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View Diary: Character names by Arthur Conan Doyle (65 comments)

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  •  Now here I disagree (10+ / 0-)
    (Holmes was never addicted. He used drugs when he was bored and put them aside instantly when something grabbed his attention. I'm not saying this is a realistic thing. It's just the way Doyle wrote it.)
    On several occasions in the pre-Reichenbach Falls stories, Watson is very concerned about Holmes' cocaine use. I'm not sure that I would go so far as to say he was an addict (he does quite eventually) but the idea that Holmes was in that opium den pursuing a case never did quite convince me for some reason.
    •  I see where you're coming from (10+ / 0-)

      ... but I would argue that Watson is the "unreliable narrator" in this case. It's Watson's opinion that Sherlock is addicted, but that's just Watson's adherence to social norms speaking.

      Doyle had little respect for the medical men of his time. Today, we think of physicians as people with extensive scientific education and skills. In Doyle's time, doctors often did more harm than good. The medicine we know today was only in its infancy.

      From a purely objective frame, I would say that someone who used drugs the way we saw Holmes use them, was indeed an addict. But it's my argument that Doyle saw Holmes as someone nearly superhuman -- who had near complete control over his physiology through his intellect.

      I can say from my modern perspective that it isn't realistic, but that doesn't mean it isn't what Doyle was trying to say.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 09:50:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (8+ / 0-)

        in the pre-Reichenbach Falls stories, I would say that Holmes was defintely as close to a superhuman being that you can get (and it occured to me that Holmes was defintely a model for The Batman).

        In the post-RF stories, Holmes did become more human and it wasn't always to everyone's liking.

      •  Medical Men (6+ / 0-)

        Um... Doyle was a medical man of his time.  He just found writing more renumerative.  But besides his Sherlock Holmes stories and his beloved historical adventures such as The White Company, Doyle also wrote several medical stories which were collected as Round the Red Lamp.  These stories don't necessarily shy away from the flaws of medical practice in that era, and he portrays his doctors as human beings with failings and fobiles like everyone else; but I wouldn't say in reading them that he displays a lack of respect for his profession.

        Now granted, Watson does not come off as a highly-competent medical professional in the Holmes stories; but that's because he's a supporting character, not the star.  Doyle deliberately keeps him and his medical activities in the background except in rare instances such as the opening of "The Engineer's Thumb" where in treating a patient he learns of a mystery for Holmes to solve.

        "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

        by quarkstomper on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:10:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Doyle was a physician (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          avsp, TheFatLadySings, Aunt Pat, Brecht

          ... but never very successfully.

          And at the time, drug treatments were very sketchy, and surgery a definite risk for the patient. Both anesthesia and antiseptic procedures were in their infancy in the late 19th century.

          Which is to say, the medical profession was not held in as high esteem then as it is now.

          As for Doyle, his interests in spiritualism and fairies fed a general distrust of what he perceived as "scientists," who debunked these treasured ideas.

          I read one article (at least 30 years ago) that put forth the theory that Doyle was behind the Piltdown Man hoax -- basically, as revenge against scientific thinkers who had ridiculed his interest in spiritualism.

          The above is sadly free of links back to source material, mostly because it's based on things I've read over the last 40 years and I mostly don't remember where.

          You could be correct. I could be mentally cherry picking snippets from my head.

          Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

          by elsaf on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 10:37:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Uh, no (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht

        First, why do you say that Watson is an unreliable narrator?  You rely on his statements for your beliefs about Holmes and women even though critics and fans from the Baker Street Irregulars on down have found plenty of wiggle room in the texts for Holmes to have romantic relationships with everyone from Irene Adler to Violet Hunter.

        Second, Watson explicitly says in at least one of the stories that Holmes was addicted to cocaine but is now clean, and is horrified when he sees Holmes with a syringe in his hands.  If that isn't canon, what is?

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