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WILLIAM BARING-Gould, a most notable Sherlockian scholar (see http://wp.me/p2ETap-3v), has presented the thesis that famed detective Nero Wolfe is the love-child of Holmes and Irene Adler. As chronicler John H. Watson so tactfully observed, “To Sherlock Holmes, she was always the woman.”
However, I offer evidence of a somewhat different sort. I claim that the “well known adventuress” Irene Adler had more than one Holmes. And, indeed, Nero’s father wasn’t Sherlock, but rather Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft.
Consider the physical evidence. In A Study in Scarlet, Watson says of Holmes, “In height he was rather over six feet and so excessively thin that he seemed to be considerably taller.”
By contrast, throughout the Nero Wolfe canon, his employee and chronicler Archie Goodwin says, “My boss is the smartest and the stubbornest, the fattest and the laziest, the cleverest and the craziest, the most extravagant detective in the world.”
This gargantuan gourmet, Archie writes, “weighs between 310 and 390, and he limits his physical movements to what he regards as the irreducible essentials.”
Wolfe himself says, “I would be an idiot to leave this chair, made to fit me.”
And what of the man I claim is his father?
In The Greek Interpreter, Watson learns for the first time that Holmes has a brother, Mycroft. When we meet him at the Diogenes Club—“for the most unsociable and unclubbable men in town”—Watson describes Mycroft as “a much larger and stouter man than Sherlock. His body was absolutely corpulent…”
Might we suppose he weighed between 22 and 28 stone?
What’s more, Holmes says of his brother, “Mycroft has better powers of observation than I.” Yet, he “does not use his powers for detective work. He is incapable of it.”
Why is this?
Holmes continues, “If the art of the detective began and ended in reasoning from an arm-chair, my brother would be the greatest criminal agent that ever lived. But he has no ambition and no energy….”
I would ask no less a Wolfean authority than Archie Goodwin if this reminds him of anyone he knows.
Why the coverup? And such a good coverup, with Goodwin keeping a picture of Sherlock Holmes— not Mycroft—above his desk.
Paternity was already suggested in Watson’s comment of Irene being the woman. However, he also recalled what Holmes said about his brother: “There are times when Mycroft is the British government.”
It was paramount to avoid the scandal of illegitimate fatherhood being added to membership in the Diogenes Club, in Holmes’ own words, “the queerest club in London, and Mycroft one of the queerest men.” Note well: This was the England of Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol.
Of course, all of this is high supposition put forth with more than a little immodesty on my part. Two highly placed brothers sharing the affections of the same beautiful actress? How very unlikely. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2012