#HolmesPeerReading: ADVENTURES part 1

I've reached the first anthology of the Holmes canon at last! THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is comprised of twelve short stories or standalone cases. Think crime procedurals in television shows. That genre of serials might as well hail from Doyle's Holmes canon itself. My idea for my next reviews of this book is that I'll divide the stories in groups of three so that I can discuss everything and hopefully make it as succinct as possible. After all, I can't really spoil too many details for each story, seeing as they are shorts and so the content of my reviews should also reflect that brevity. In the interest of furthering my reviews as an insightful reading material about the Holmes canon, I also want to raise a few observations not necessarily in regards of the plot or mystery/case presented, but also on the characterizations or themes made in each piece. Holmes and Watson's respective development as characters, particularly their personal and/or working relationship, should be a focal point that I must address and tackle as I go on. They are such interesting individuals who continue to capture the imagination of generations of readers throughout the ages, whether here in the source material or in other adaptations. 

 It's worth noting that the Holmes short stories are not always in chronological order. The Great Detective had a long and illustrious career, and so some cases often never get told or only revealed later in another volume. Watson as the boswell would often publish stories out of order which will become noticeable only with the references he would make here and there to clarify certain dates. There were also references to cases that author Doyle himself never wrote and only added to give the impression of the multitude of cases Holmes had solved (or never solved), hence the reason why writers of today can still write (and had written) their own cases to add as supplemental material. I own six Holmes anthologies complied from several authors, and I can attest that there were a spectacular few I consider worthy enough to be added into the canon itself. But I digress.

Let's start talking about the first three cases in ADVENTURES, shall we?



❛tσ shєrlσck hσlmєs, shє ís αlwαчs /thє/ wσmαn. í hαvє sєldσm hєαrd hím mєntíσn hєr undєr αnч σthєr nαmє. ín hís єчєs, shє єclípsєs αnd prєdσmínαtєs thє whσlє σf hєr sєх. ít's nσt thαt hє fєlt αnч єmσtíσn αkín tσ lσvє fσr írєnє αdlєr. αll єmσtíσns, αnd thαt σnє pαrtículαr, wєrє αвhσrrєnt tσ hís cσld, prєcísє вut αdmírαвlч вαlαncєd mínd...

...αnd чєt thєrє wαs вut σnє wσmαn tσ hím, αnd thαt wσmαn wαs thє lαtє írєnє αdlєr, σf duвíσus αnd quєstíσnαвlє mєmσrч.❜

﹂✦ Next to Professor James Moriarty, Irene Adler was another character strongly associated to Holmes. Most of it was because of the adaptations on screen and the fan fiction they spawned. Readers can interpret Watson's opening paragraph for SCANDAL in the obvious way, which is the fact that Irene Adler must have been Holmes' great (if not only) romantic love. When I was thirteen and started writing fanfics myself, I was understandably sold with this idea. It stemmed mostly from my own self-insert fantasies about being Holmes' own love interest. Young girls tend to do that about their heroes, don't they? Over the years, I've learned to view the potential relationship between them objectively.

﹂✦ Some would argue that Watson himself had already abolished any notion or speculation of a romantic affair by explaining that the Great Detective never allows emotions to govern him, and that his feelings for Ms. Adler remain that of admiration and professional respect. After all, during the course of SCANDAL, she has shown what a remarkably astute and intelligent woman she was and therefore has even bested a great mind like Sherlock Holmes. ﹂✦ It was brought up in THE SIGN OF THE FOUR that Holmes distrusts the opposite sex. Whether or not this makes him a misogynist would depend on more examples that I'm prepared to make as I move along with the volume. There are notable scenes and dialogue that would point out that he sees women in general in an unfavorable light, as much as there are examples where he fought and defended an exceptional woman who impressed him. Irene Adler was one, and so is the governess Violet Hunter who will make her appearance in the last story found in ADVENTURES.

﹂✦ RATING: 8/10

* This story was a good opening for ADVENTURES. We get to see Holmes put on a few disguises as he spies on Irene Adler to uncover a certain photograph. And, as added bonus, he got to put a member of a prominent royal family in his place.


﹂✦ A notable moment in this story had to be Watson's descriptions of Holmes' mood swings. He made observations regarding the man's consuming lethargy when he has no cases to solve or interests to pursue at the moment, which were then contrasted with his high energy and infectious charm every time he was hot upon the scent of a mystery. There were speculations among Holmes scholars and fans that he had a bipolar disorder since the symptoms of his behavior point to that nature. My favorite definitive Holmes actor Jeremy Brett shared this disorder, which lent his performance of the Great Detective some incidental authenticity.

﹂✦ Holmes' passion for the violin and classical masterpieces was also tackled in this story. I think this was the first time Watson and the readers witnessed the softer side of Holmes in which he has displayed keen interested towards arts and music and not just towards science and crime-solving. According to Watson, ❛“thє stαgє lσst α fínє αctσr, єvєn αs scíєncє lσst αn αcutє rєαsσnєr, whєn [hσlmєs] вєcαmє α spєcíαlíst ín crímє.”❜

﹂✦ RATING: 7/10

* The amusing con involving red-headed men is interesting to see get solved. Holmes' shrewdness is enjoyable especially because he was rather cheeky about it too. He also imparted more great lessons about what he does as a scientist and detective, such as: ❛As a rule, the more bizarre a thing is t̲h̲e̲ l̲e̲s̲s̲ ̲m̲y̲s̲t̲e̲r̲i̲o̲u̲s̲ it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are r̲e̲a̲l̲l̲y̲ p̲u̲z̲z̲l̲i̲n̲g̲, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.❜


﹂✦ This story was actually a weak point for me, not only because of how easy it was to figure out the 'mystery' element of the case, but also due to the fact that it ended on a weirdly detached tone in which Holmes didn't even care to disclose the truth to his client, whom he dismissively claimed will never believe it anyway because of her sentiments of the heart. It just didn't sit right with me, is all. Holmes operates on his own morality scale, true, but he just sounded thoroughly negligent here when he never had a problem with brutal honesty before. Not even Watson protested about it when he's the type of fellow who's always eager to jump on a woman's defense, especially if she has been wronged.

﹂✦ RATING: 6/10

* We also don't get to see Holmes and Watson engage in anything remotely resembling an action sequence or a good mental sparring with the 'antagonist'. It really felt as if Doyle was half-asleep while penning this one.


Slow and steady is how I move through this peer reading, I know, given my other creative preoccupations plus the burden of my work as a teacher. But I've made a vow to myself to be consistent with my posts and reviews. I surely hope Airiz herself can catch up soon. THE GAME IS ON!


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