Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Kiwi Appraisals of Doyle, Sherlock, and That Dog

WE'VE REPRODUCED the articles below, but you can also follow the links to the originals.

From "Literary Chat."
By "The Sage."
The New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 March 1901.
Online (HERE), continued (HERE).

   "The following is Conan Doyle's account of how he came to originate Sherlock Holmes:

   "'At the time I first thought of a detective — it was about 1886 — I had been reading some detective stories, and it struck me what nonsense they were, because forgetting the solution of the mystery the authors always depended on some coincidence. This struck me as not a fair way of playing the game, because the detective ought really to depend for his success on something in his own mind, and not on merely adventitious circumstances, which do not by any means always occur in real life.

   "'For fun, therefore, I started constructing a story, and giving my detective a scientific system, so as to make him reason everything out. Intellectually that had been done before by Edgar Allan Poe with M. Dupin, but where Holmes differed from Dupin was that he had an immense fund of exact knowledge to draw upon inconsequence of his previous scientific education.

   "'I mean by this that, by looking at a man's hand, he knew what the man's trade was, as by looking at his trouser's leg he could deduce the character of the man. He was practical, and he was systematic, and his success in the detection of crime was to be the fruit, not of luck, but of his qualities.'"
~ ~ ~
From "Literary Chat."
By "The Sage."
The New Zealand Illustrated Magazine, 1 July 1902.
Online (HERE).

   "From Messrs. Upton and Co., of Auckland, I have received Conan Doyle's latest work, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' (which the sub-title announces to be another adventure of Sherlock Holmes), published in Longman's Colonial Library.

   "In this welcome addition to his previous efforts the author has taken a West Country Legend as the foundation for a most exciting story.

   "A certain Dr. Mortimer calls on our old friend, Sherlock Holmes, for his professional assistance to solve a 'most serious and extraordinary problem.' He commences by reading an old manuscript, dated 1742, to Holmes and his friend, Dr. Watson, which he stated had been committed to his care by Sir Charles Baskerville, whose sudden and tragic death had created so much excitement in Devonshire some months before. This M.S. describes the origin of the Hound of the Baskervilles, having been written by one of the race who had the story from his father, who had it from his.

Artwork by Selman Domagk

   "At the time of the Great Rebellion it appeared, Hugo Baskerville, whose wanton and cruel humour made his name a by-word through the West, loved the daughter of a yeoman. The young lady avoided him. He forthwith carried her off to his Hall, and placed her in an upper chamber while he held his usual nightly carousal with his friends. She escaped by climbing down the ivy-covered wall, and fled across the moor.

   "When her flight was discovered one of the revellers suggested putting the hounds after her. No sooner said than done. Hugo, on his black mare, was first and foremost in the chase. A scared shepherd, asked if he had seen the hunt by those who followed, said he had seen the unhappy maid with the hounds on her track, and he added, 'Hugo Baskerville passed me ... and there ran mute behind him such a hound of hell as God forbid should ever beat my heels.'

Artwork by John Patience at Deviant Art

   "Following on, they found the maid and the squire lying dead, with an enormous black hound standing over Hugo, plucking at his throat. After reading this Dr. Mortimer explained that the late Sir Charles had been
found lying dead in the Yew Alley, and that some little distance off he
had himself seen the footprints of a gigantic hound!

   "It will be at once seen that Conan Doyle had here a subject after his own heart, and in the elucidation of this mysterious death he puts his favourite detective to a very sharp test, out of which it is needless to say Sherlock comes victorious. But few authors have the faculty of using the same hero for several successive works without wearying the reader. The present work, however, proves, if proof were wanting, that Conan Doyle possesses it in no ordinary degree. The reader, on putting down 'The Hound of the Baskervilles,' cannot fail to acknowledge that both author and hero have lost no whit of their power to excite and interest, if indeed they have not increased it."

~ ~ ~
Completely unrelated bonus review of The Ace of Spades (HERE):

   "Messrs. Wildman and Lyell, of Auckland, send The Ace of Spades, a psychological romance, written by Messrs. R. Andre' and G. Leitch Walker,
and published by Messrs. Ward, Lock and Co., of London, Melbourne and
New York.

   "This is a gruesome story of insanity, red murder and sudden death, which should be highly pleasing to those who delight in sensational reading. The plot is too incredible for serious consideration, but the story might be an agreeable change to readers whose literature consists of the Newgate Calendar and the New York Police Gazette [sniff]."

The book doesn't seem to be listed on Worldcat, but it is for sale for £50 on Amazon.

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