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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sherlock Holmes remains the best of all men

From The New York Times:

Mr. Carr's Holmes is, in other words, a thorough product, or even an exemplar, of the Victorian mind-set - supremely rational, nervously asexual and slightly superstitious. And a point implicitly made by this novel and by Mr. Klinger's erudite annotation is that no small part of why we love the Holmes stories is because of the way they so evocatively recreate an entire 19th-century world: the trains, the hansom cabs, the mews and alleys, the shopkeepers and street urchins, the social pecking order so precise and well organized that you can tell a person's occupation just by observing his boots or his shirt cuffs. One reason the Sherlockians thrive is that the Holmes stories provide them so much texture and detail to work with.

Holmes is a bohemian of sorts, but he is also a defender of the Victorian system. The stories all begin with a threat to the social order, to the rational scheme of things, and they all end with Holmes having restored that world to the kind of clockwork precision of which he is a symbol.

Hat tip and thanks to my friend DCDemocrat for pointing the article out to me.


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