Monday, October 20, 2014

Baskervilles Read-Along: Sir Henry Baskerville (Ch. 4)

Isn't Sir Henry just charming and awesome?  And has any character ever been described as "pugnacious" who does not turn out to be delightful?  And determined.  Though I have to wonder... Sir Henry says "[t]here is no devil in hell, Mr. Holmes, and there is no man upon earth who can prevent me from going to the home of my own people" (p. 600).  And yet he's been living in Canada all this time?  Hmm.

We get to see Holmes fail at something here.  Have I ever mentioned that I love that the canon Holmes is fallible?  He doesn't always solve the case, he doesn't always capture the villain.  He doesn't always catch his quarry.  And when he fails, he's so hard on himself.  Makes him feel so real and human!  Here's our Possible Discussion Question:  Do you think there's a reason Doyle has Holmes fail here, other than to keep us from learning the identity of the bearded gentleman?

Favorite Lines:

"I seem to have walked right into the thick of a dime novel" (p. 598).

"I think anything out of the ordinary routine of life well worth reporting" (p. 598).

10 comments:

  1. I like how Doyle puts us into the thick of the mystery solving right away! Kind of like Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books.

    I think Doyle has Holmes fail here to give him more depth, like you said. If you're great at something and fail, I think it's human to be hard on yourself. (At least I am :)

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    1. I definitely identify with Holmes' perfectionist tendencies. I agree that his failure makes him more human :-)

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  2. I've always liked Sir Henry- of course, I might be a wee bit prejudiced in favour of a fellow Canadian. And I think you're right about failure humanizing Holmes... while we want him to be the smartest man in the room, we don't want him to be omniscient or infallible- that would make it impossible for us to relate to him. In any case, a few setbacks now and then make his eventual triumph all the more satisfying.

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    1. Well, a wee bit of prejudice of that sort is to be expected :-D It's like when I run across a Lutheran character in a book or movie, lol.

      I like your idea that setbacks make the eventual solution more satisfying! Very good insight.

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  3. I think maybe it was Doyle's way of keeping the reader engaged. "What? Sherlock bested? What is this new devilry?" (I can't stop saying that.) I was definitely surprised. It could also make Sherlock develop as a character. He'll have to be on his toes more sharply than usual.

    And I kind of love the word pugnacious. Actually, I just love that I'm back to reading books that send me to the dictionary every two pages or so. There's this great word, crenellated, in Chap. 6 that got me all excited. What nerdiness. :-)

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    1. Well, I say "What is this new devilry?" with some regularity myself. In my best Sean Bean impersonation. Which involves squinting my eyes and imagining my shoulders are much more impressive than they are.

      But I digress.

      I think it also helps us wonder, later in the book, if Holmes is going to be able to solve this case. If I was writing this, that would have been part of my motivation for sticking that failure in there, anyway.

      Crenellated! Another great word.

      (I owe you an email. I promise I'll get to it soon! Just kinda swamped with blogging stuff right now.)

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    2. My best Sean Bean impression usually involves some kind of sad-eyed death. Equilibrium, anyone?

      Yeah, I see that, too. It would take out some suspension of the story if you're always 100% of Sherlock solving the case.

      Nonono, I owe YOU an email. We had church convention last week, and I went to Denny's almost every night afterwards. :/ I'm way behind on the blogging stuff, too. (I read all the way to Chapter 7 because I was so mixed up, lol). And I've been mentally flipping from a Wuthering Heights post to reading Sherlock to studying Emma for the blog party....so I'm all kinds of confused. :-)

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    3. Sometimes it's a triumphant death. Boromir, for example. And sometimes a very satisfying death, like in GoldenEye and Patriot Games and... he dies a lot. Poor Sean Bean.

      I'm 2 weeks behind in reading the blogs I follow. TWO WEEKS! Life happens.

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  4. With this chapter, I love the part where Sir Henry shows Holmes the threatening letter made up of cut-out-and-pasted newspaper words and is then like "Meh, I don't think it's very important Mr Holmes. I'm sure it's just someone having a joke." That always cracks me up :D Another part that stands out for me is the bit where Holmes reads the letter and then reads a Times article afterwords which contains all of the words in the letter. Everyone else is like "What is the *matter* with the man? He's clearly lost his mind!" and I'm thinking "Seriously?! You can't see what he's doing?!" I feel kind of bad for Holmes there, frustrated on his behalf!

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    1. Haha, yes, poor Sir Henry just can't make up his mind to take all this seriously yet, can he?

      Sometimes I have to wonder how I would have behaved, were I in this world, hanging out with Holmes. Would I have been as baffled as everyone else? Or would I have had at least a glimmer of a notion of what he was up to sometimes? (Or would I have been like, "Oh, Holmes, that was astounding! I had no idea what you were doing -- you're so much more brilliant than I!" just to make him feel good?)

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What do you think?

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)