November 9th, 2008

reading, activism, writing

Book # 40: Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong, by Pierre Bayard

A glowing beast stocks what is supposed to be the last of the rich and influential Baskerville family. At least two men seem to have been killed on the cold and desolate English moor by the bloody hound. All hopes for the future of the young Baskerville rest on the cunning of the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. But did he get his conclusion all wrong? Did the real murderer go free?

According to French literature professor, Pierre Bayard, not only did Holmes make numerous mistakes, Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock's creator) hated the character so much that by the time he wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles he couldn't see who the real murderer was either.

Bayard follows the story from the outcry that arose around the world when Conan Doyle killed Holmes in The Final Problem. The intensity of the opposition to Holmes' death proved to be more than Conan Doyle could handle. He grudgingly continued writing the stories despite his desire to move to other stories.

Bayard's supposition, that evidence in the Baskerville case was overlooked and that Holmes repeatedly saw what he wanted to rather than what existed on the page, is intriguing and makes for an interesting and short read. The book opened up an entire world of literary theory that argues that characters in books can be as real as live human beings because of the impact they have on the everyday life.

Humm... I'll have to think about that. The consequences are alarming, but then, so is reality.