The official verdict was suicide...We weren't close, but I was very interested in his work. Sigh.
Generally the crimes in Holmes' narratives leant towards the supernatural, but with a mundane solution ([i]Hound of the Baskervilles[/i], [i]The Speckled Band[/i] etc). Dorian's story [i]has[/i] a supernatural explanation. It was like throwing down a gauntlet - Wilde provides a supernatural story, based in a contemporary setting. At the end of [i]Dorian[/i], were the events real, [i]someone[/i] would have had to investigate and try and come up with a plausible explanation as to what had happened. In some ways there are similarities between [i]Dorian[/i] and the 'spy in a bag' news story at the moment. (In short, a spy was found dead in a bag in his bath in an MI6 safehouse. The key to the padlock on the outside of the bag was inside, underneath his body. The safehouse door was locked from the inside. There were no fingerprints other than those belonging to the spy and his immediate family anywhere in the flat. The coroner ruled this week he was "probably unlawfully killed" but no-one knows how it was done.)
That's an AMAZING mystery about the spy!! And about the writer....isn't it difficult to garrote one's own self? pardon me if it's not...
So, back to Sherlock...Homes used Watson as the pedestrian character responsible for publishing the sensational stories popular with the masses much Sherlock's chagrin...: ) I could have sworn there was a line where Sherlock explained his preference for normal murders, like a dead man found in the street with nothing remarkable about the crime because it illustrated his great powers better.
I want to say the line I'm thinking of is from the Return of Sherlock Holmes...but I'll never be able to find it now that I want it. lol.
True though, including the speckled band and the hound we also had the vampire he was so happy to disprove. : ) Holmes was quite the antithesis to Doyle the Spiritualist..though I suppose Doyle didn't get into spiritualism until after the Great War so most of what he wrote was from the secular POV of his youth...
And while it's been a while since I read any Holmes stories I think you're right, he did [i]say[/i] that he preferred 'unremarkable' crimes...but Doyle didn't write them. I think actually that was Doyle having a sly dig at the reader because clearly in real life the more outlandish the crime, often the more clues there are to the solution, ergo anyone with a modicum of intelligence could, eventually, have solved all of Doyle's crimes themselves (if he gave the reader all the clues, of course). It's like life contradicting art.
Holmes disliked Watson "sensationalising" his stories because his was a rational mind fixated on the how and why of the crime, not on the human interest. But as readers we read them as much for the human interest as the whodunnit itself. And, of course, the biggest part of the human interest angle is the relationship between Holmes and Watson themselves.
Doyle's books are basically one overarching metanarrative (the relationship between Holmes and Watson) played out through a series of smaller events (the individual mysteries that they solve). The series as a whole can be read in two ways, either taking each story individually at face value, or exploring them as a whole, in which case the individual cases pale into insignificance compared with what is going on between Holmes, Watson, and of course Moriarty. The riddles they solve along the way become stocking fillers that plug the gaps while we watch the metanarrative develop until it [i]becomes[/i] the narrative - when Holmes "dies".
And don't even get me started on the whole 'Watson marries, Holmes dies, Watson's wife dies, Holmes comes back to life' bit. Beyond convenient.
lol...so the marries, dies, comes back to life bit you think plays into the romance between Sherlock and Watson storyline? Not, perhaps, the part where Doyle was sick to death of writing Sherlock and so killed him off, but when his hand was forced and he brought him back to life he couldn't be bothered to write Mary Watson anymore because her character didn't really play a role in the mystery solving? Layers and layers, this Doyle has. Layer and Layers.
I could be made to believe there is a romance relationship subtext to S and W but I have never read the stories looking for the "clues" to that before...and having no knowledge of the cultural hints of the period I bet I'd miss it all even if I was looking for it. Though obviously, I've heard the claim made before, just never substantiated. : )
So, tell me what you really think about he purported US Sherlock about to debut with Lisa Ling as an asian female Watson? ; )
A female Watson would never work. Sherlock was fundamentally misogynistic. Would he ever had found any use for a woman? Doubtful. In actuality, were he a real person, he'd probably have been asexual. It's just fun to queer these old stories.
That's what I do best. For example, here's Watson's response to Holmes' return:
[i]I rose to my feet, stared at him for some seconds in utter amazement, and then it appears that I must have fainted for the first and the last time in my life. Certainly a gray mist swirled before my eyes, and when it cleared I found my collar-ends undone and the tingling after-taste of brandy upon my lips. Holmes was bending over my chair, his flask in his hand.[/i]
Has Holmes given an unconscious man brandy? Or has he kissed him, shortly after taking a drink himself? It seems unlikely he'd be pouring [i]any[/i] drink down Watson's throat while he was in a dead faint, doesn't it? Isn't it more probable that he was nervous about Watson's reaction to his return (understandable), hence he was carrying a flask of brandy which he took a drink from shortly before revealing his true identity. Dutch courage. Then Watson faints and Holmes bends over his chair, loosening his collar to help revive him, which would put their faces naturally close. Did he lean that little bit further and kiss him? Logically, it makes perfect sense.
I love to see women kick butt in male dominated genres like Science Fiction. I have been in the top 100 for the genre from time to time. I mostly stay in the top 100 for high tech books. It's nice to see that I can compete with all those men! LOL A little ole Southern Belle from Texas ......
Referring back to Traci's comment about cultural things, and yours about giving an unconscious person a drink of alcohol: For most of history it has been very common for men to give men a small drink of alcohol to "bring them around". A light dose of a strong substance will often cause a person to cough, which will often cause a sudden intake of breath. Higher amounts of oxygen can aid in reviving a person. It's much like using smelling salts. And, alcohol is more common than smelling salts.
Nope, never read any of his stuff. My BA is in English Lang & Lit, I studied the Victorian classics mostly, a bit on the Bible, Renaissance poetry and early modern English. At one point I could wax lyrical on the impact of the introduction of Christianity to Britain. My dissertation was on Heathcliff as the archetypal Victorian heroine (yes, you read that right). Without a name, without money, power or class, he's the ultimate frustrated female.
My MA was in queer theory, which was multi-disciplinary - I did 18thC lit, 21stC lit, film, sociology and psychology, a whole mix. I went from Freud and Foucault to [i]Fanny Hill[/i], [i]American Psycho[/i], [i]Gattaca[/i], performative masculinity and moral panics. A heady combination
I did a piece on the influence of the Bible on the [i]Matrix[/i] trilogy, so I'm no stranger to reading monotheism into secular works myself, but my first love has and always will be analysing Victorian novels for queer subtexts. It's had an interesting side-effect in that there's basically nothing about that period that I don't know, because to analyse them properly you have to understand the timeframe, otherwise a lot of the subtext just passes you by. I don't even think about it these days but I got talking on GR to an author after advice on period detail and I, um, well, I may have given them slightly more than they asked for, lol. And a reading list about 20 books long. I've now got half a dozen authors who contact me when they need help with the time period.
Of course it's all academic, and it's difficult to prove anything conclusively one way or another, but it's fun to do. Wilde's an easy target, and has been done to death. Holmes and Watson aren't far behind. I was always surprised that Forster wasn't more popular in the field, being another gay author. But then it all bleeds back to the fact that most people are looking for evidence of the author's life in their work, and vice versa, whereas I tend towards thinking that a truly great author can separate the two.
Although I am in the middle of a non-fic analysis of the James Bond canon in which I'm going to argue that Bond was queer, and probably fell in love with Scaramanga. Must have been that third nipple
You're quite correct, David, and brandy in specific has been used as a stimulant for medicinal purposes for years, up to and including the timeframe of this story. It was in fact noted by the Victorians for how well it revived people who had fainted.
The hallmark of this kind of analysis is reading a subtext into what is, on face value, innocuous. To get that particular analysis past initial criticism such as you have levied I would of course have to justify it further. Why, for example, did Watson note the tingle of brandy on his lips, and not in his mouth or throat? If administered orally for medicinal purposes it would need to be swallowed, not merely swabbed around the lips. When we imbibe neat alcohol the usual allusion would be to a burning sensation in the throat, or perhaps the taste in the mouth. So the analysis is plausible, but not conclusive. As is most analysis of this type
I managed to beat out everyone when my book went into the Top Ten on all of Amazon with the first book in my series, The Last Call--A Bill Travis Mystery, and I'm still beating out everyone in my genres (Mystery and Action-Adventure) as I'm still in the Top Ten in both of those. Additionally, several of my books are in the top 100 in those genres. Makes a body proud.
Oh man,. that makes my fingers get all tingly to turn pages and analyze! Uni is so dang fun. I wish real life were half as fun as that!
Forgive me if you know all of this already...Nichols eventually came out of the closet and was very flamboyant in his public persona. He was also in credibly prolific, esp. in the early part of the twentieth century. There is more than a little gay subtext in his first extremely popular book, Down the Garden Path, where he waxes lyrical about his naked statue Antonius, and doesn't hide his antipathy towards the "modern female."
In an later work...golly...I'm thinking Merry Hall, there was a poignant line about an "American friend" which was his a man he was deeply in love with but it didn't work out...if I remember correctly the American Friend was the only time he had a partner that he thought might be a long term relationship.
While I've read his first two garden series books i haven't read the gardening parts for gay subtext, but I bet it is rich in it. His passions were winter flowers and flower arranging, and playing piano...As you can see I am very fond of Nichols. It would be very fun to write a thesis on him.
He writes in that bright, funny style like Wodehouse, something I've never seen in an American author but would love to be able to do myself.