|Dr. Carlina de la Cova at the Hounds dinner (Photo: Monica Schmidt)|
After re-reading The Hound of the Baskervilles so many times over the past 50 years, I thought I’d looked at it from just about every angle. Then I attended the annual dinner meeting of the Hounds of the Baskerville(sic) over the weekend.
The scion, founded in 1943 by the legendary Vincent Starrett, is accurately self-described as “Chicago’s original, senior, and most singular Sherlockian society.” Attendance at its only meeting each year is by invitation, as is membership in the group.
This year’s after-dinner speaker was our dear friend Dr. Carlina de la Cova, who offered her unique perspective on The Hound – that of a Sherlockian who is also associate professor of anthropology at the University of South Carolina and a deputy coroner in Colombia, SC.
In brief, she said, “Anthropology is what makes the story what it is.” This is an insight that will inform my future re-readings.
Carlina pointed out that multiple sub-disciplines of the field are represented in the novel:
- Physical anthropology
- Cultural anthropology
- Linguistic anthropology
- Criminal anthropology
Most importantly: “The mystery is solved with anthropology,” she noted. How so? That has to do with a certain painting of Sir Hugo Baskerville and what it told Sherlock Holmes.
As the Hounds of Baskerville (sic) is a scion rich in history, it is appropriate that the before-dinner speaker imparted a little recent history: Michael Whelan, leader of the Baker Street Irregulars (“Wiggins”), discussed the recent move of the BSI Archives from the East Coast (Harvard) to the Midwest (Lilly Library at Indiana University in Bloomington).
At the end of the evening, Carlina was inducted as a member of the Hounds, along with Mike McSwiggin, BSI, Second Most Dangerous Member of the Tankerville Club of Cincinnati; and Rodney Henshaw. Congratulations to them all!
Now, back to Dartmoor . . .