Monday, March 16, 2015

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes where have you been all of my life? This is one of those books that has been on my to read list for several years now, but one that I haven't picked up until just now ... despite the complete series being in my own personal library. I wish that I would have picked this one up sooner. There are several words that could describe this book, genius and brilliant being just some of them.

Amazingly enough is the fact that the Sherlock Holmes stories were written quickly and carelessly by the author, who felt that his literary fame would rest on other, more serious works. But Sherlock Holmes is, and always will be, considered Arthur Conan Doyle's best pieces and is known worldwide.

Sherlock Holmes himself could be viewed as a very unlikable and disagreeable person. He loves the hunt, and one could say that when he is on a case is the only time that he truly comes alive. Off the case he appears to have severe bouts of boredom and depression. He cares nothing for the victims, and it seems that he cares for no one else other then himself. His lack of empathy and self absorbed personality could be considered borderline sociopath. He would not be called humble. He basks in others praise of himself, and takes delight in walking others through the case and pointing out his genius and superior mind."Elementary, my dear Watson". Despite this, I still like him. I find him intriguing and curious as a character.

Sherlock Holmes - his limits 

1. Knowledge of Literature. - Nil.
2. Knowledge of Philosophy. - Nil.
3. Knowledge of Astronomy. - Nil.
4. Knowledge of Politics. - Feeble.
5. Knowledge of Botany. - Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
6. Knowledge of Geology. - Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
7. Knowledge of Chemistry. - Profound.
8. Knowledge of Anatomy. - Accurate, but unsystematic.
9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature. - Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is a expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

Sherlock is able to be seen as more human per say because we are shown that he is a little naive and ignorant on some subjects. It makes his brilliance as a character slightly more believable, realizing that he too has his blind spots. Upon being told by Watson that the earth travels around the sun Sherlock replies "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it".

"I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but none these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones" 

There are many layers to Sherlock Holmes. He solves cases not because of a perceived duty, but because life in general bores him. Not to mention the stroking of his ego when he reveals "The big explain". As previously mentioned he loves flattery and having his genius recognized.

I love being able to see the cases through the eyes of Holmes. I for one will be going on more of them in the very near future.

My rating :  *****

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