Friday, February 20, 2009


This, in the famous words of George Harrison, has been a "long cold lonely winter." A bit of escapism was in order, and took the form of reading the entire Sherlock Holmes canon, as the many fans of the fictional detective call his collected works (four novels and over fifty stories). Incredibly enough, I had never read any of the original works, perhaps because of a mild form of diffidence toward "minor" forms of literature. I just completed the last two stories this morning and I greatly enjoyed entering into the world of Baker Street.

Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson have a large and devoted following, to put it mildly. Many of them play "the game," in which they immerse themselves in a sort of late Victorian Second Life where Holmes is not a fictional character. Here in Boston we have The Speckled Band, which goes back many decades. I remembered from my childhood that even the Italians are very fond of this extremely English Englishman (the photo shows actor Nando Gazzolo with the iconic pipe and deerstalker hat, which I adore- but no cocaine syringe). You can check out the sherlockiani at the site Uno Studio in Holmes, in Italian and English (natch).

The real Conan Doyle seemed to be full of prejudices. There is more than one unflattering remark about Italians, including an entire story called the The Red Circle which is based on a mafia-like association. And one of the later stories features a villain who is half-Italian, as a sort of explanation of his villainy. Pshaw!