#HolmesPeerReading: Initial thoughts on SCARLET

❛ Tнεяε'ѕ тнε ѕcαяlεт тняεαd σƒ мυяdεя яυииιиg тняσυgн тнε cσlσυяlεѕѕ ѕкειи σƒ lιƒε, 
αиd συя dυтч ιѕ тσ υияανεl ιт, αиd ιѕσlαтε ιт, αиd εχρσѕε ενεяч ιиcн σƒ ιт. ❜


Reading through the first twenty-five pages for A STUDY IN SCARLET was most certainly very nostalgic. My peer for this endeavor, Airiz, just told me that it was the only Holmes story she had read a while back in high school, so this is more or less a re-read for us both in that aspect.

My impression after coming back to this Holmes story (which was the Great Detective's first appearance ever in the Strand Magazine back in 1887 for their Christmas Annual) was not the same as the one I had before when I read it for the first time at thirteen years old. There was so much wild intrigue and fascination for me back then because I was viewing in the fresh eyes of a budding bibliophile. Doyle was also the first author in classical literature whose work I've had the pleasure to experience, and he had since opened the doors to that genre of fiction for me. Still, reading it tonight made me very excited, and it was still a rewarding pursuit for me to pick up his books again.

I still recall every passage and dialogue that had occurred in those measly twenty-five pages, all of which I envisioned now with the knowledge of someone who had seen the more modern adaptations for Holmes and Watson on-screen. The closest thing their first meeting was adapted approximately was back in BBC Sherlock's pilot episode entitled "A Study in Pink". Of course, that had its tweaks since it was set in our current times as opposed to Victorian London.

Not even the Granada series starring Jeremy Brett had depicted the very first time Holmes and Watson met which for me is a disappointing if not completely missed opportunity. After all, Brett remains to me as the 'definitive' Holmes, and I would love to have seen him act out the scene in the laboratory. In it, Holmes had just discovered a more proficient way to examine blood by establishing timeline. This was a crucial discovery because it would aid immensely in crime detection back in that period.

From the get-go, author Doyle had characterized his Sherlock Holmes as a scholar who prided himself in his scientific experiments especially the results he would yield from them. He was bold, innovative and unabashed in taking his studies one step further, no matter how eccentric they prove to be. Watson would later figure out just how both encompassing and limited Holmes' knowledge is when it comes to certain branches of studies, and that was one of the notable things I'd like to tackle here in my expanded notes.

The next pages detailed succinctly not only Holmes' profound grasp in subjects like Chemistry, Botany (notably poisons), Geology (soil samples) and Sensational Literature (he avidly follows crimes), Doyle also touched upon his ignorance of more 'practical' knowledge such as the Copernican Theory. Holmes asserts that it was useless to him if the earth revolved around the sun since it had little meaning in his work. The man also believed that the human brain is an attic, and you must only store valuable information in it so as not to crowd it with senseless data.

But what was his work? Later on, Watson will discover this right after he read an essay called 'The Science of Deduction'. He thought the observations made by the analyst in the paper are absurd, but Holmes countered it by saying deductive reasoning is the most practical scientific method of all. He revealed that he wrote that article and he can attest to its credibility.

Ah, the science and art of deductive reasoning. Where do we begin with that? Well, in BBC Sherlock, the writers had depicted it as some sort of superpower in which only Holmes and his older brother and rival Mycroft are gifted with it. However, the American adaptation Elementary had grounded it in more reasonable terms, and it was therefore much more in spirit of how Doyle intended it to be.

Deductive reasoning is a science; it can be both taught and learned provided that someone shows devotion and passion in the art of observation and analysis. It isn't some superpower that only genuises like Holmes are readily bestowed with like some sort of karmic provenance. No, it is a cultivated way of living in which a scientist makes a real study of it and constantly harnesses and improves their skills on deducing events right from the most banal and mundane.

This is one of the things I enjoy about the Holmes books and why I think Elementary (next to the Granada series) is the closest adaptation to Doyle's method of approach concerning Holmes' supposedly crime-detecting genius. Sure, it is impressive in scope how Holmes can deduce things in near perfection by just looking at clues in a person's clothing or many other details in appearance when he's within a crime scene. But Doyle had always treated it with a more pragmatic sense of wonder for the readers' benefit than glamorize it that it becomes an alienating sort of parlor trick that only serves to impress and entertain.

Unlike in the BBC adaptation, in which we have Moffat and co. make it seem like deductive reasoning is inaccessible to the average man and Sherlock Holmes is a superhero simply gifted with it, Doyle instead presented that anyone can study deduction. It does take someone who puts in constant hard work, however, and has the drive and patience that such a rigorous endeavor entails, in order for him or her to fully master said craft.

Sherlock Holmes is one such individual. But you could be too, if your heart and soul is in it. The Holmes books had taught me that science shouldn't be put in some pedestal never to be touched and only admired from afar, but rather a goal in which one can aspire to achieve and make a difference in.


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