Simanaitis Says

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WATSON’S EYESIGHT, HOLMES’ EATING HABITS

FOLLOWERS OF Sherlock Holmes take everything written by Dr. John H. Watson as utter truth. It’s a charming conceit among Sherlockians that all of the tales were merely relayed to us through the help of Arthur Conan Doyle. Whatever the authorship, the “Sacred Canon” is studied, analyzed, and enjoyed. The best sources are annotated versions (of which more anon).

Breakfast at 221B Baker Street: Watson exercises his eyes; Holmes munches.

I take particular delight in commentaries planted subtly, if firmly, in cheek, like the one concerning Dr. Watson’s eyesight in The Hound of the Baskervilles. While visiting Mr. Frankland of Lafter Hall, in the village of Fernworthy, Watson looks out the window and sees a lad delivering food to a mysterious personage on the moor. In The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, William S. Baring-Gould comments that “Watson’s eyesight was phenomenally acute” in this regard.

No trivial observation, for Watson notes that the boy was “several miles away.”

In A Study in Scarlet (the one in which Holmes and Watson meet), they’re having breakfast at 221B Baker Street. Watson writes, “Then I picked up a magazine from the table and attempted to while away the time with it, while my companion munched silently at his toast.”

In an annotation to this, Baring-Gould observes, “munched silently at his toast. How Holmes accomplished this minor miracle is not known.”

All in good (and sort of scholarly) fun.

There are scads of delightful books devoted to Sherlockiana, the most essential being The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, by William S. Baring-Gould, two volumes, Clarkson N. Potter, New York; and The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, edited with annotations by Leslie S. Klinger, three volumes, W.W. Norton & Co. Amazon has the three Klinger volumes new for around $100. Baring-Gould is out-of-print, pricey if found new, collectable otherwise with nice copies for $30 the set. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2012

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This entry was posted on August 17, 2012 by in The Game is Afoot and tagged , , , .
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