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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quintessential Quote #53

"It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside."
-- Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Copper Beaches"
William Bolitho, in a passage that I love, called Holmes "the spirit of a town and a time." The town, of course, is London. And yet it is astonishing how many of his adventures take him outside of London proper and into the countryside. Sometimes that countryside is a bedroom community of London, sometimes farther afield.

It would be tedious to list examples, but almost half of the tales in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -- five out of twelve -- take Holmes out of the city down country lanes for at least part of the story. So do half of book-length adventures -- The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. (I don't know about The Sign of Four. Pondicherry Lodge is not in the city, but I'm not sure it would be considered country, either.)

Maybe Sherlock Holmes wore that style of country cap called a deerstalker more often than we Holmes fans generally believe. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. What an excellent question to bring up. I very much like the thought behind this. Personally, I'd have to say yes I feel Holmes was away far more than we albeit fictionally, realize. I have also always wondered about the three years he was absent after 'The Final Problem.' While Holmes does tell us where he has been it just doesn't account for every day of three years. I often find myself wondering about these particular travels. Wonderful question.