Friday Sherlock Links Compendium (January 19 - January 25, 2013)

I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere released their 50th episode “A Golden Passage” and it’s one of their best to date. What better way to celebrate a 50th episode milestone than to host “a scintillating conversation with the two editors of the Baker Street Irregulars’ eighth entry in their Manuscript Series, The Wrong Passage, which is a look at the manuscript of “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez.” Co-editors Andrew Solberg, BSI (“Professor Coram”) and Robert Katz, MD, BSI (“Dr. Ainstree”) joined us to discuss just what it is that goes into creating a significant piece of scholarship such as we’ve come to expect from BSI publications of late.” Clocking in at a breezy one and a half hours, I’ve listened to this podcast twice and thoroughly enjoyed every deliciously Sherlockian moment contained therein. 


[Cover of The Wrong Passage.]

Baker Street Journal capped off their 62nd volume (Winter 2012) with an extra thick offering of Writings upon the Writings. Included are enticing sounding articles such as: “”Fleet of Foot”: Watson at the Battle of Maiwand (or Not)”, “Out of Africa: Cracking the Carbuncle Conundrum”, “Dickens, Conan Doyle, and Holmes”, “Validation of Internet Fandom: Bridging the Gap between Traditional Fandom and the Age of Tumblr” and “Sherlock Holmes Fan Fiction”. Also, @BakerStJournal celebrated their 2 year anniversary on ‘the twitter’ recently - 140 cheers for them! Lastly, now is the absolute perfect time to (re) subscribe to the BSJ so that you’re sure to receive all four (ir)regular issues, along with the always erudite and fascinating Christmas Annual - like this year’s 2012 Xmas Annual by Sonia Fetherston about John Barrymore and his role in Sherlock Holmes (1922) as the Great Detective.


[Cover for Baker Street Journal, Winter 2012, Vol. 62, No. 4.]

New York Times in “The Holmes Behind the Modern Sherlock” argues that The Seven-Per-Cent Solution “deserves special consideration because [it’s] the father of all those modern Holmeses. Besides being a clever comic mystery with an absurdly talented cast, this 1976 film — based on Nicholas Meyer’s playful novel imagining the meeting of two great Victorian detectives, one of whom is Sigmund Freud - established the template for all the twitchy, paranoid, vulnerable, strung-out Holmeses to come.” I mostly agree with this assessment though hasten to add Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) as the other ‘father’ of modern Holmes adaptations. Released this week in a new Blu-ray and DVD package, the double disc set of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution on Shout! Factory contains a wealth of extra features including an interview with Nicholas Meyer. 


[DVD title screen for the newly re-released double disc set of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.]

Digression: A Study in Controversy (or The Great January 2013 ‘Debate’ On What It Means To Be a ‘Real Sherlockian’) *Updated

I had originally planned, at least temporarily, to avoid writing about the growing (internet) controversy that started earlier in the week when Kristina of the Baker Street Babes posted a (self-described) rant against Sherlockians who dismiss various types of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasm as ‘not Sherlockian’. The two main reasons for her rant were 1) a post someone made on Facebook which called into question one of her friend’s ‘real Sherlockianness’ and 2) an article by Philip Shreffler (BSI and former editor of the Baker Street Journal) in a new publication titled The Saturday Review of Literature (which cleverly captures the look/feel of Christopher Morley's original mouthpiece for early Sherlockian musings and news c. 1930s) entitled “The Elite Devotee Reduxwhich questions the recent surge in Sherlock Holmes enthusiasm due to Benedict Cumberbatch/BBC Sherlock - which is a follow-up by Mr Scheffler to an “Editor’s Gas Lamp” piece “The Elite Devotee” (March 1988) written during his tenure as BSJ editor regarding the potential dangers associated with the sudden popularity of Sherlock Holmes due to Jeremy Brett/Granada. 

Baker Street Babes posted a late night essay/rant about why she (Kristina Manente) is sick of certain perceived attitudes in the Sherlockian (BSI) world where recent fans of Holmes (by way of Cumberbatch) are put down as ‘not real Sherlockians’, immediately setting-off a Tumblr/Facebook avalanche of responses, mostly in support of Ms Manente’s essay.

Lyndsay Faye in “Notes Upon the Care and Feeding of Your Curmudgeonly Sherlockian” takes a humorous approach in her response to Kristina’s original post - as well as providing some perspective/frame of reference when talking about the type of Sherlockian who is accused of being overly exclusive, snobby, etc.

Frida Frag opted against her original knee-jerk snarky reaction and instead composed “A Love Letter to *All* Sherlockians” detailing what she thinks makes for a true Sherlockian.

Doyleockian weighs in with “Are You a Sherlockian” exploring the question: when does one become a Sherlockian? 

Sherlock Peoria's titles speak for themselves: “Women kicking cranky old ass”, “Me, not hating the playa” and “Serious Sherlockian bullshit”.

Unfortunately, thus far, apart from Mr Philip Shreffler's original article in The Saturday Review of Literature, (No. 1, Jan 2013), the conversation has been completely one sided in nature and I fear the ‘reaction’ blog posts are becoming more and more defensive and less open to productive dialogue; in addition many of the arguments tend to be directed at an overly-generalized ‘straw-man’ opponent (eg. big, mean, cranky, old, white male know-it-all Sherlockians who don’t like girls or anything new) opposed to engaging in a dialogue with what is of course a much more nuanced and multifaceted set of view points.

Regardless of how you feel about Mr Shreffler’s editorial, the publication also contains significantly less controversial though thoroughly interesting articles such as a selection of recently discovered New Statesmen essays from 1927 under the title of “Desmond MacCarthy and the Chronologicla Problem" which 1) underline the central part played by chronological researches in the early years of the history of our game; 2) propose some of the canonical (and perduring) methods for dating the stories… 3) expose some major questions and problems that will be discussed for decades and thus illustrate the, at the time, future and constant disagreement among Sherlockian scholars… 

Don’t outright dismiss this project just because you disagree with one of it’s editorials - or at the very least own a limited edition piece of controversial Sherlockian history: 221 copies of this issue reviving the Saturday Review of Literature of Christopher Morley’s day have been printed, for $5 postpaid while they last from Donald Pollock, 521 College Avenue, Niagara Falls N.Y. 14305.


[The cover of the publication that started all this hullabaloo.]

/End Digression

Dan Andriacco released a new short e-reader only Sherlock Holmes pastiche called Sherlock Holmes in the Adventure of the Magic Umbrella, an exploration of one of Watson’s unwritten cases mentioned in “The Problem of Thor Bridge" about "the mysterious disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore, who stepped back into his house to get his umbrella and was never seen again”. Mr Andriacco, along with his brilliant McCabe/Cody cycle and collection of Holmes essays, plays and musings Baker Street Beat, previously released a short Holmes pastiche called Sherlock Holmes: The Peculiar Persecution of John Vincent Harden also dealing with an untold case which Watson mentions in passing at the start of “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist" (ie. "he was immersed at the moment in a very abstruse and complicated problem concerning the peculiar persecution to which John Vincent Harden, the well-known tobacco millionaire, had been subjected.") I love the concept of pastiches based on the ‘untold cases’ and I also love Mr Andriacco’s writing style, so I hope it goes without saying that I highly recommend both of these novellas. 


[Sherlock Holmes in the Adventure of the Magic Umbrella.]

Quick Sherlock Links:

Markings posted an insightful essay on one of the great tragedies in the Sherlockian world: the loss of William Gillette's 1916 film adaptation of his play Sherlock Holmes. Luckily, a smattering of stills survive and Ray Wilcockson collects a sampling of them here from the University of Minnesota Rare Holmes Collection.


[Click the above image for a larger view plus many more stills.]

KUOW in “Sherlock Holmes, The Junkie” notes that “when the fictional character Sherlock Holmes took up his recreational cocaine habit, the drug was still considered a responsible alternative to alcohol. It was a thinking person’s drug. But the public perception of cocaine changed and in response, Holmes’ creator painted the great detective’s coke addiction in increasingly darker tones.” Listen to All Hopped Up: Drugs in America (Backstory Radio) for an in-depth discussion of drugs in 19th century literature, ACD included. 

Huffington Post published “Sherlock Holmes: A Science Based Detective”, an essay by Jim O’Brien whose recently published book The Scientific Sherlock Holmes (Oxford University Press) “examines the science and forensics that Holmes employed and even makes the case that it is the science that has made the Holmesian Canon so enduring.”

Angelophile delivered up visually fascinating series of side-by-side comparisons of original Strand illustrations and scenes from Granada’s Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Even though I’ve watched each episode of the Jeremy Brett incarnation of Holmes at least a dozen times, I’m continually blown away by the tremendous attention to detail which the Granada team achieved. 


[Paget and Granada Holmes from “The Man With the Twisted Lip”.]

Tenacious looks at the new plaque presented this past weekend: “This plaque commemorates the historic meeting early in 1881 at the original Criterion long bar of Dr. Stamford and Dr. John Watson which led to the introduction of Dr. Watson to Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”


[This plaque commemorates the historic meeting early in 1881 at the original Criterion long bar of Dr. Stamford and Dr. John Watson which led to the introduction of Dr. Watson to Mr. Sherlock Holmes.]

Door County Daily News investigates “What Kind Of Pipe Is Sherlock Holmes Smoking?” explaining that “it may surprise you to learn that the two-billed deerslayer hat and the curved pipe aren’t even mentioned in what Holmes scholars call “the Canon”. Included is an audio segment by local actor and director Ross Dippel discussing this ‘multi-pipe problem’.

The Norwood Builder posted a fascinating analysis of Sgt Donovan’s character from BBC Sherlock in regards to her blatant dislike/distrust of Sherlock. Personally, I’ve always been taken aback by Donovan’s over-the-top hatred of Sherlock (cf. Study in Pink where Donovan ‘warns’ Watson about Sherlock’s psychopathic potential) to the point where I find her character distasteful. A tremendous amount of thought was put into this essay and it’s worth reading in its entirety. 


[Donovan to Watson: “One day we’ll be standing round a body and Sherlock Holmes will be the one that put it there.” (A Study In Pink).]

Humans of New York announced on Twitter: “Sherlock Holmes spotted in the lobby of The Met yesterday, no doubt uncovering some bigtime clues. w/ photo.” Perhaps Holmes was checking out the Metropolitan Museum of Art's holdings of his great-uncle Horace Vernet? Perhaps he was looking in on Vernet’s The Start of the Race of the Riderless Horses (by 1820) - which perhaps reminded the Great Detective of Silver Blaze or Shoscombe Prince.


[Painting by Horace Vernet, great-uncle of Sherlock Holmes.]

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    The usual bevy of Sherlockian links from @always1895. We appreciate the top billing and the double listen!
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