The More You Holmes

From: The BBC Casebook by Guy Adams

Line: SHERLOCK (flyleaf):

Don’t buy this book. The author has transformed what should have been a series of lectures into a gross and tasteless entertainment.

The science of deduction is a branch of human achievement requiring serious analysis and yet here I find it lavishly illustrated, disfigured with humour and infested with gossip. Apparently, this kind of sensationalism is required to engage the interest of the reading public, but it is rather like working an office romance into a paper on quantum physics. Only an idiot would be impressed. Help yourself.

Reference: Holmes often complains that Watson embellishes reality too much in his writings (one wonders why he insists Watson tag along so often), but the above particular complaints show up in two places: The Sign of Four and “The Copper Beeches.” Here are the quotes, respectively:

From the Sign of Four:

“Honestly, I cannot congratulate you upon it. Detection is, or or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid.”

From the Copper Beeches:

“You have erred perhaps in attempting to put colour and life into each of your statements instead of confining yourself to the task of placing upon record that severe reasoning from cause to effect which is really the only notable feature about the thing. … If I claim full justice for my art, it is because it is an impersonal thing — a thing beyond myself. Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell. You have degraded what should have been a course of lectures into a series of tales.”

It is interesting to note, however, that later in the canon (very late: in The Casebook, “The IMG_0004Blanched Soldier”), when Holmes himself narrates one of his stories, he is “compelled to admit that, having taken my pen in my hand, I do begin to realize that the matter must be presented in such a way as may interest the reader.”


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