Wordsworth Classics & Sherlock Holmes

This is exciting. My first ever post!

It’s summer again, you see, and as much as I am enjoying the non-enforced early rising, it does mean I have a lot more time on my hands. With each year the summer seems to fly past even faster than the previous one. To be honest, I’m a bit young to be thinking thoughts like that. I should be carefree, foolish, headstrong. And maybe I am, a bit. But I’m not the type to just sit around playing video games. Much.

Anyway. The point is, I decided to finally start writing this blog, because, it being summer, I very nearly have enough time on my hands. If you’re going to continue reading this blog, that’s something you’ll have to get used to. My rambling off-topic, I mean. I once… now you see, there I go again. See what I mean?

I think I’ll just get on with writing the bally thing, shall I?

The Science of Deduction. I really should explain myself. I suppose it really started a few months back, when I went into Whitby on a foggy day out with some friends.

There is a secondhand bookshop in Whitby (Endeavour Books), which sells rare and, well, secondhand books, where I found a Wordsworth Classics edition of The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, complete with The Hound of the Baskervilles. Its pages are yellowed and blotchy with brown mould (which, I hear tell, is hallucinogenic. To me, as someone who has spent a large proportion of their life with their nose buried in a book, this strikes me as significant. It sure explains a lot…), a few of the pages are folded over and the cover is bent back slightly. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful book, containing facsimiles of the stories as they first appeared in The Strand Magazine between 1901 and 1904 with the original illustrations by Sidney Paget, the first man to draw Mr. Holmes wearing his distinctive deerstalker hat. The writing is tiny and in columns, and I must admit that I find it easier to read like that.

It has great illustrations, it smells like nice old books, and of course, it’s a darn good read.

Up until I got this copy, I had only ever read A Study In Scarlet, part of The Redheaded League, and an abridged version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. But I had very much enjoyed the film adaptation with Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes, was familiar with the Jeremy Brett versions, and was absolutely in love with the more recent BBC adaptation, Sherlock.

If you have never read any Sherlock Holmes, I strongly recommend that you do. It is not only exciting and intelligent, but also at times endearing and often quite hilarious, particularly the relationship between Holmes and Watson, and the way all the characters react with each other.

As much as people describe Holmes as cold, unfeeling even, it is easy to see the great love and respect he has for Watson, and vice versa. They do care very deeply about each other, although not in a romantic way. It is not for me to destroy the hopes of a thousand shippers of Johnlock, but I don’t think there was ever a romantic relationship between the two.

As exceptionally human and three-dimensional characters who complement each others’ characteristics perfectly, with a strong, mutual friendship, Holmes and Watson are easily my favourite duo of characters.

Again, I ramble. This copy of The Return has not left my side since I first started reading it, but a few days ago, on a day out in a city called Durham (where the Lindisfarne Gospels currently reside!), I entered an Oxfam bookshop, just on the offchance that I might find another Holmes book. There is already a copy of The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes in my house, but it is a very large volume which I could not take in my bag 20-odd miles to school every day, and it does not have the illustrations!

Although I didn’t have very high hopes of finding any, I did. First I saw several more copies of The Return, and then – The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes! This copy has been a lot more well-looked after. Both of my Holmes books were published in 1993, but this one looks a lot newer, and has much better reproductions of the illustrations: larger and clearer, and not as dark or hard-to-distinguish.

Since then, I have been trying to teach myself that precise art, the Science of Deduction.

I’ll tell you more in my next post… stay tuned!

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