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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

When Parody Meets Pastiche

The distinction between a pastiche and a parody can be more nebulous than you might think.

In his essay, “The Beginnings of Solar Pons,” August Derleth made it clear that he intended Pons as a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes, “not  parody.” But Vincent Starrett, in praising the Pons stories, wrote that he found in them “a hint – just a mild flavor of burlesque.” He added that “it seems to me the best pastiches must have just that remote flavor of affectionate spoofing.”

Recently, I picked up a copy of Arsene Lupin Versus Herlock Sholmes (also known as The Blonde Lady) at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York. Most crime fiction aficionados at least recognize the Lupin name as that of the famous thief of French fiction. In this episodic novel, which I have known about since I was a boy, Lupin does battle with a character that might fairly be called a burlesque of Sherlock Holmes. The story is serious, but Herlock Sholmes is not.

Even less serious is Sholmes’s sidekick, Wilson. When Sholmes calls Wilson a “triple imbecile,” he is only stating the obvious. Think Nigel Bruce, but not as smart.  

Lupin, on the other hand, is everything that the back cover of the Wildside Press edition of Arsene Lupin Versus Herlock Sholmes proclaims him to be: “witty, charming, brilliant, sly . . . and possibly the greatest thief in the world.”

And still, the best he can do against “Herlock Sholmes” is a draw. To that degree, Sholmes is like the character of which he is a parody. His one book-length appearance is worth reading.

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