Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the Mystery Genre's Tolkien

My father and I just finished His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and, in doing so, finished our final journey with the consulting detective of 221B Baker Street and his faithful friend Dr. John Watson.
It was an absolute joy, an utter thrill-ride, and His Last Bow had some of the best. The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans contained all the finest elements of every Holmes mystery, The Adventure of the Dying Detective had us on the edge of our seats the whole time for the sheer uniqueness of it, while The Adventure of the Devil's Foot had us speculating as much as we were reading. And His Last Bow - The War Service of Sherlock Holmes had us howling with laughter, for the detective who came out of bee-keeping retirement showed once more that he is the unchallenged master of in the field of Higher Insults as much as in mystery.
Thus it is with sadness that, at last, we take our leave of 221B Baker Street. We salute you Mr. Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson, Inspector Lestrade and our other friends of Scotland Yard, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft Holmes, and of course the Baker Street Irregulars.
Thus do I state that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is beyond question the counterpart of J.R.R. Tolkien in the mystery genre, doing for it what, decades later, Tolkien later did for Fantasy. Indeed, avid readers of the Holmes stories helped create the modern practice of a fandom in that they were and are the world's oldest. When Conan Doyle killed off Mr. Holmes in The Final Problem, the public reaction to the death was unlike anything previously seen for fictional events. More than 20,000 Strand (the magazine in which Holmes stories were published) readers cancelled their subscriptions, furious at what they judged to be Holmes’ premature end. The magazine nearly went out of business and its staff referred to Holmes’ death as “the dreadful event” while those selfsame livid readers wrote to the magazine in wrath. Not that we, today, would expect much less from a truly diehard fandom but, at the time, Conan Doyle was the epitome of stunned for the simple reason that, again, fans had never before acted in this manner (indeed, this was before the word "fan" was even in widespread use). So while Fantasy owes it's roots to the great J.R.R. Tolkien, due credit must be given to its literary kindred Mystery that owes its bones to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle whose genius provoked the world's first literary fandom. Frankly and in ending, I am quite certain that Tolkien was inspired at least partly by Conan Doyle as the writing style of the two Englishmen are, at least to my eye, somewhat similar.
"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." - Sherlock Holmes
"To a great mind, nothing is little." - Sherlock Holmes
"So silent and furtive were his movements, like those of a trained bloodhound picking out a scent, that I could not but think what a terrible criminal he would have made had he turned his energy and sagacity against the law instead of exerting them in its defense." - John Watson
"The game is afoot.” - Sherlock Holmes

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