Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes

Sign of Four (1890)

largely derived from Collins’ The Moonstone. Has  boat chase scene, Holmes solves the plot but does not get the treasure back…the futility of unraveling plot for the sake of plot, or perhaps just the opposite.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)

Triangulates between Watson, Holmes and reader. Reader identification is crucial—the cards are always stacked against her, b/c of Watson’s withholding of information (not directly, but by the person writing Watson…or is it?) Holmes is a master reader, always finding reasons for everything. But at times the concept of plot is internally critiqued as a mere device, while plot is being used to tell the story.

Drug use as a substitute for the effects of narrative—Holmes is either plotting or shooting up.

  • A Scandal in Bohemia – use of the negative as a way to find result – beat by Irene Adler – the problem/threat of women remains paramount for Holmes.
  • Red-Headed League – Interesting stuff on the strangeness of life itself (as opposed to fiction), in a story that deals with biological traits – namely, red hair, which comes to represent ugly wierdness for Doyle.
  • Case of Identity – A step father becomes the suitor of his step-daughter (engaging but not marrying here) in order to maintain the constant flow of her dowry. Connect with other father/husband doublings, such as Jarndyce.
  • The Five Orange Pips – Takes the KKK as its subject – strange similarities to Sutpen in Absalom/Absalom. Unique because “fate” in the form of a storm succeeds where Holmes fails (sinks the boat of racists) though he solves the crime, he can’t being justice.

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