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Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The Many Roads to Baskerville Hall
You just can't have too many copies of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
When our younger son, now thirty-three, was in high school, he once failed a test on The Hound of the Baskervilles. His excuse was that couldn't get a copy of the book to read. I went into my library and counted. I had more than forty copies of the book (any of which he could have borrowed).
That was long ago. I now have many more copies of The Hound. When I see an interesting edition that I don't own, it's hard for me to resist buying it.
I'm now re-reading the book in a fascinating 2002 edition from Viking, part of that publisher's The Whole Story series of classics. The colorful illustrations by Nicollet are dramatically unusual, almost cartoonish, and highly engaging. Many pages also include illustrated annotations aimed at the general reader. They interesting, though far from the detail of a Baring-Gould or Klinger.
Several other editions I have are also noteworthy. The 2006 Candlewick Press edition is lavishly illustrated with highly evocative sketches by Pam Smy in muted colors. Unusually, the text itself is in blue. The North Point Press version from 1986 sets the proper mood with black and white photos by Michael Kenna.
Those are all hardback editions. Naturally I have many paperbacks. Two of them are in Italian, Il mastino dei Baskerville, and the wide difference in the translations is fascinating. (I just learned from Paul D. Herbert, B.S.I., that The Hound has been translated into Piedmontese, the language of the Piedmont region of Italy.) Also interesting is a Signet edition I have from 1967 with an introduction by William S. Baring-Gould.
The 2000 Aladdin Classics edition contains a foreword in which Newberry Award-winning author Bruce Brooks boldly states: "The Hound of the Baskervilles is the perfect mystery, perhaps even the perfect novel."
What do you think? Does Brooks go too far or is The Hound in fact the perfect mystery?
One thing is for sure: It's the perfect book to buy again and again. One never seems to run out of editions worth adding to the shelves.