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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sherlock Holmes, Italian-Style

Sherlock Holmes turns up in the most unexpected places.

Recently I was re-reading an Italian comic book to brush up on my Italian language skills in preparation for a trip to Rome. Martin Mystère: Detective Dell’Impossible is an American adventurer whose travels often bringing him to Italy, where he studied in his youth.

The comic has been around since 1982. In episode 293, from 2007, Martin is involved with a group of international Robin Hood types called the Aristocrats, who steal for charitable purposes.

The story is set in modern day, but a flashback scene from a diary has Oscar Wilde describing the famous Langham Hotel dinner at which he and Arthur Conan Doyle were each commissioned to write a novel. “Imagine my disappointment,” Wilde says (my translation), “when I realized that Sherlock Holmes really exists. I thought that he (Conan Doyle) had invented him.”

Forty-two pages later, Wilde encounters ACD again years later and congratulates him on Il Segno dei Quattro – “great title, my dear doctor . . . but, above all, a grand adventure, in which the investigative genius of Sherlock Holmes shines again.”

This passage is illustrated by a drawing of a deerstalkered Holmes with Watson and the body of the late Bartholomew Sholto.

Conan Doyle responds to Wilde, in part: “I owe it all to my friend John Watson, who gave me permission to draw on his diaries.”

I own a nice paperback copies of Il Segno dei Quattro, Il Mastino dei Baskerville and Tutto Holmes (the Complete). I hope I can add to my Sherlock Holmes library on our Roman holiday . . . and I wouldn’t mind picking up another adventure of Martin Mystère: Detective Dell’Impossible as well.

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