Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quintessential Quote #43

"Well, well, I suppose I shall have to compound a felony as usual."
-- Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Three Gables"
How do I love this quote? Let me count the ways!

First, the general wryness is charming. Holmes is exhibiting what he referred to in Dr. Watson as "a certain pawky humor." One can almost hear him pause before saying "as usual," perhaps with a theatrical sigh.

Second, the way this quote refers to Holmes' past actions makes those familiar with the great detective's adventures feel right at home. We know from experience that he's not exaggerating -- Holmes really does compound felonies a lot.

In my recent read-through of the Canon, I counted four occasions on which he committed burglaries. (Legal hairsplitters say they were not burglaries under British law because no crime was intended, but to me they were burglaries.) I didn't count the numberous times he let the criminal go, but "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," "The Crooked Man," and "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange" spring to mind.

Third, Holmes is clearly telling the truth here -- which he does not do when he claims in "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" that "I use my head, not my heart." In every case in which he lets the villain go, he is doing it for a heart reason, not a head reason.

The frequent assertions of Sherlock Holmes that he is no more than a brain, an "ideal reasoner" may reflect his own self-understanding, but they do not reflect the reality. In truth, Holmes had a great heart as well as a great mind.

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