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Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Adventures in Book Naming
Naming a book of short stories can be a real adventure.
The first Sherlock Holmes stories ran in The Strand under the collective title of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," with many of the story titles beginning "The Adventure of . . . " That became the book title as well for the greatest collection of detective stories ever written.
The next dozen stories carried the same "Adventures" banner in The Strand, and all but one were collected as The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. That book title is a misnomer, though, when you stop to think about it. These may be memoirs about Holmes, but they are memoirs of Dr. Watson.
Both Adventures and Memoirs are deeply imprinted on my consciousness as titles associated with Sherlock Holmes and his creator. So much is this so that for many years I believed that Arthur Conan Doyle's autobiography was called Memoirs and Adventures rather than the actual Memories and Adventures!
The first five collections of Solar Pons short stories were designed to mirror the Sherlockian Canon, even to the point of having the same number of short stories in each book as in the Canonical model. And so we have In Re: Sherlock Holmes - The Adventures of Solar Pons, The Memoirs of Solar Pons, The Return of Solar Pons, The Reminiscences of Solar Pons, and The Casebook of Solar Pons before The Chronicles of Solar Pons breaks the pattern.
But wait - Reminiscences? That reflects ACD's His Last Bow, which carries the little-used subtitle Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes.
The inevitable association with Sherlock Holmes makes Adventures such a great title for a collection of detective stories that Ellery Queen used it twice: The Adventures of Ellery Queen and The New Adventures of Ellery Queen.
Coming up with a creative title for a collection is such a daunting challenge that many authors (or publishers) simply name the entire book after one of the short stories. I was tempted to do that for the first (and so far only) collection of Sebastian McCabe - Jeff Cody mysteries. Instead, I called it Rogues Gallery because a rogues gallery is a collection, and because the first story in the book takes place in a gallery.
But G.K. Chesterton, in my opinion, wins the day for giving his Father Brown books of short stories a series of titles that are unique, memorable, and appropriate: The Innocence of Father Brown, The Wisdom of Father Brown, The Incredulity of Father Brown, The Secret of Father Brown, and The Scandal of Father Brown. And next year, I plan to reread them all.
Posted by Doctor Dan at 12:00 AM