SHERLOCK HOLMES – ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (incomplete)

A STUDY IN SCARLET.

1. London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. (p.4)

2. It was a foggy, cloudy morning, and a dun-coloured veil hung over the house-tops, looking like the reflection of the mud-coloured streets beneath. (p.29)

3. Where there is no imagination there is no horror. (p.51)

A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA.

4. (…) while Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, (…) (p.3)

5. ‘You would certainly have been burned had you lived a few years ago.’ (p.5)

6. ‘(…) and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting specimen of the London slavery.’ (p.5)

7. ‘Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.’ (p.6)

8. Boots which extended half-way up his calves, and which were trimmed at the tops with a rich brown fur, completed the impression of barbaric opulence which was suggested by his whole appearance. (p.8)

9. His expression, his manner, his very soul seemed to vary with every fresh part that he assumed. The stage lost a fine actor, even as science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a specialist in crime. (p.18)

A CASE OF IDENTITY.

10. ‘My dear fellow,’ said Sherlock Holmes as we sat on either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, ‘life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outré results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.’ (p.27)

11. The larger crimes are apt to be simpler, for the bigger the crime, the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive. (p.28)

12. ‘You may remember the old Persian saying, “There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.”‘ (p.44)

THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE.

13. ‘You have shown your relish for it by the enthusiasm which has prompted you to chronicle, and, if you will excuse my saying so, somewhat to embellish so many of my own little adventures.’ (p.45)

14. ‘It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.’ (p.57)

THE BOSCOMBE VALLEY MYSTERY.

15. He ran up and down, sometimes losing, sometimes finding the track, until we were well within the edge of the wood and under the shadow of a great beech, the largest tree in the neighbourhood. (p.85)

16. ‘Why does Fate play such tricks with poor helpless worms?’ (p.92)

THE ENGINEER’S THUMB.

17. ‘Yes, it did. I fainted when it was done; and I think that I must have been senseless for a long time. When I came to, I found that it was still bleeding, so I tied one end of my handkerchief very tightly round the wrist, and braced it up with a twig.’

‘Excellent! You should have been a surgeon.’ (p.185)

18. ‘Capital! Between your brandy and your bandage, I feel a new man.’ (p.186)

19. ‘Experience,’ said Holmes, laughing. ‘Indirectly it may be of value, you know; you have only to put it into words to gain the reputation of being excellent company for the remainder of your existence.’ (p.203)

THE COPPER BEECHES.

20. (…) I frequently found my thoughts turning in her direction, and wondering what strange side-alley of human experience this lonely woman had strayed into. (p. 258)

21. ‘Data! data! data!’ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’ (p.258)

22. ‘Are they not fresh and beautiful?’ I cried, with all the enthusiasm of a man fresh from the fogs of Baker Street. (p.259)

23. ‘They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.’ (p.260)

(INTRODUCTION – IAIN PEARS.)

a. Even his habit of using cocaine is referred to in passing only: it is not used as a way of excavating his character. Holmes’s personality is so strong because he is supposed not to have one; he is meant to be ‘cold, precise, but admirably balanced…the most perfect reasoning and observing machine.’ (…) Seen through the eyes of Dr Watson – the perfect embodiment of open-minded yet conventional Victorian society. (p.viii)

b. For the character presented is the archetypal ‘new man’ of the Victorian age, a meritocrat, living solely off his brains, dislocated socially and scornful of the society in which he lives. (p.ix)

c. Had the stories depended on Holmes alone, they would perhaps have been a little too dry; had Conan Doyle tried to fill out Holmes’s character, he would have diminished the mystery: Holmes is fascinating because nobody really knows him well. (p.ix)

d. The further out into suburbia he goes, the weaker Conan Doyle’s descriptive powers become, although in all fairness it must be said that scene-setting was not a high priority for him. (p.xi)

e. (…) only in longer stories such as The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) does he pay much attention to scenery, and even then the landscape is often conveyed through the characters who inhabit it. Indeed, far more important than physical location in the early short stories is his description of character, which is as much part of Conan Doyle’s art as it is of Holmes’s, and in a succession of thumbnail portraits he demonstrates an impressive ability to capture personality and types in a minimum of words. (p.xi)

f. The trouble is that Moriarty is so unconvincing that the contrast does not work. (p.xii)

g. What Conan Doyle create was the perfect positivist, the embodiment of Victorian faith in rationality and science, convinced that the right combination of method and reason would overcome all obstacles. Even though our own trust in science is not what it was, our faith in human rationality has taken a battering since the middle of the twentieth century, Sherlock Holmes still presents an attractive enough figure, although now viewed with a sentimental affection rather than seen as an almost aggressive blueprint for the future. (p.xiii)

h. (…) the narrative of the client hides the deeper narrative which detective and analyst alone can perceive. (p.xv)

i. The world of Holmes is a purely material one, unconcerned with anything beyond. (p.xvi)

j. Holmes was setting out his creed about the ideal reasoner at the moment that the realism of Émile Zola was being challenged by the mysticism of Joris-Karl Huysmans, (…) (p.xvi)

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