12 3 / 2012

Just realized I’ve been writing the name of this book wrong all this time. I blame Sherlock.

Anyway. Hound of the Baskervilles. After reading it I see why this is one of the iconic Holmes stories. As a novel it’s a lot more coherent than Study in Scarlet, or Sign of Four. The plot is constantly moving forward, the new characters are pretty clearly driven, and it doesn’t get bogged down in chapter long narratives of HERE’S HOW I PULLED OFF TEH CRIME!!!111 This is the book of an author who’s hit his stride when it comes to writing these characters. Also it’s very atmospheric and spooky. Even without the hound, the reader is still treated to descriptions of quicksand that swallows ponies alive, and really creep paleolithic ghost towns. Me gusta.

Couple themes running throughout.

  • Ancient ways versus modern technology. This was a constant theme running throughout, as I noted in a previous post. Well ingrained ideology, versus dispassionate study study. It reached its synthesis when the murder weapon, as it were, turned out to be a combination of fear over old urban legends, combined with new scientific discoveries that made a non-supernatural dog appear much more frightening. Funnily enough, anthropology was discussed in this book a lot, (from studying skulls, to Holmes and Watson remarking about the personality traits of Celtic or Spanish people. Heh.) and I think Doyle would have placed that in the “modern day discoveries column.” However, 19th century social sciences were deeply problematic, and often used to prop up white supremacy. lol woops. And now social sciences… can definitely still be problematic, but the views espoused in this book are largely regarded as obsolete as any of the supernatural things in this book.
  • Respect the wimmenz:The story starts off with a tale about a Baskerville kidnapping a woman and making her his wife. But she escapes and dies of fright on the way home. Cue vengeful dog from hell to hound (HAHAHAHA) The Baskervilles forever more. And then there are several examples of women who are, or are not, done well by when it comes to their husbands. The one I found most interesting was Laura Lyons. It takes guts in the 19th century to run away from your father, get married, and then do all you can to get a divorce when that marriage turns awful. Watson seemed as defensive about her as he was about Irene. Not sure what to make of that.
  • Holmes likes Watson. He really really really does: Still kind of amazed that people say Holmes doesn’t talk about how much he likes Watson. He doesn’t often say it in as money words, but this book really was all about their friendship. He entrusts Watson with a pretty important investigation- which is Holmes’s way of saying “yeah I think you’re savvy and smart”- and hides out on the moor… partially to investigate, yeah, but also I get the sense he just did not want to leave Watson on his own in such a dangerous environment. And when pressed he says Watson’s letters to him were very helpful. Also Watson’s letters to Holmes were pretty sweet. “I MISS YOU I WISH YOU WERE HERE!!!!11” was pretty obvious in all of them.

09 3 / 2012

I’ve been enjoying the past couple of chapters. Watson investigating on his own is pretty fun. And to continue in the same vein of People Getting Watson and Holmes Wrong, I don’t know why people portray Watson as The Dumb One, sometimes. He’s not at Holmes’s level of deduction, but he’s knowledgeable and observant (no matter how snarky Homles can get about it.) He demonstrates social acumen too; most of their clients seem at ease in his presence. Holmes’s commentary on how Watson is one of those people who inspires brilliance in others is more accurate than, I think, even Holmes realizes. It sounds like Sherlock’s business is more successful than ever, and I think that’s due to Watson’s ability to make their clients feel valued.

"It’s no wonder my uncle felt as if trouble were coming on him in such a place as this," said [Baskerville]. "It’s enough to scare any man. I’ll have a row of electric lights put up here inside of six months, and you won’t know it again, with a thousand candle-power Swan and Edison right here in the front of the hall door."

There’s this theme of ‘ancient versus modern’ running throughout Hounds of Baskerville. It seriously keeps coming up. The Baskerville ghost stories have an ‘old world’ feel to them. Sherlock makes a big deal about USING THE TELEGRAM!!!11 Old ways of doing things contrasted with new technology. etc etc etc. (Hell, the tobacco and coffee that Holmes was consuming earlier were probably taken from one of England’s colonies, and then refined and manufactured in one of the factories of the industrial revolution.) And, when I last left off, Watson was talking with someone about how the moor preserves abandoned neolithic era villages. I feel like this is all building up to something.

"The records of your detective have reached us here, and you could not celebrate him without being known yourself."

Good line. I have thoughts about it, but they’re difficult to put into words. Definitely another display of how witty Watson can prove to be. Sherlock’s an interesting dude, but Watson writes stories in such a way that people want to read them.

Also, giggle giggle at ‘your detective.’

08 3 / 2012

"It’s an ugly business, Watson, an ugly dangerous business, and the more I see of it the less I like it. Yes, my dear fellow, you may laugh, but I give you my word that I shall be very glad to have you back safe and sound in Baker Street once more."

It blows my mind how often people claim ACD!Holmes rarely openly values Watson. He can be an imperious dick, but he clearly adores Watson.

08 3 / 2012

Like a shotgun needs an outcome (xx)