Watson Is Not an Idiot: An Opinionated Tour of the Sherlock Holmes Canon
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Over the past few years, Sherlock Holmes has exploded in popularity. The character has made a huge impact on the 21st century, with multiple interpretations gaining a growing audience of new Sherlockians. But many fans of Sherlock and Elementary know very little about the original stories themselves. Watson is Not an Idiot is an opinionated exploration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original canon, written to illustrate interesting features and historical elements of the stories from the perspective of a lifelong fan of the material. It's not academic, but a companion -- the passionate, excited, and sometimes ranty friend who sits alongside you and points out interesting bits while you read. Watson is Not an Idiot is perfect for the first-time reader of the stories and fans curious about starting a more critical reading of the material.
quite clearly the guilty party, but Holmes withholds the evidence until a time he feels is correct. Holmes is becoming more and more convinced at this stage in his career of his own ability to mete out appropriate justice, instead of simply supporting the legal authorities. This leads into another back-and-forth rant about the canon. As previously mentioned, the conceit of the stories are that they are actual events that Watson transcribes and publishes both as a form of advertisement for Holmes
Sherlock, not Mycroft.) Aside from his brother, we learn that Sherlock’s ancestors were country squires, and that his grandmother was the sister of the French artist Vernet. There are actually several French painters with the last name of Vernet, but Emile Jean Horace Vernet seems to have lived at the right time, so I assume it’s him. While the story of Sherlock’s family ends there, some research on Horace Vernet shows that he was primarily a painter of battles and portraits in a very accurate,
earlier “Greek Interpreter” or the upcoming “Final Problem,” there’s still a lot to dig into with this story. This story was released relatively close to the start of World War I. In that war, France and Russia were strong allies to England, but in this story, they are seen as potential enemies who might benefit from the theft of the treaty. This is accurate of the political climate of the time, though, showing the radical shift in politics that the First World War brought about (and proving
calling Watson “James” in “The Twisted Lip”). It appears I’m not the only one who likes this one, as “Hamish” is used for Watson in the BBC series Sherlock. So with that introduction, we see that this is a refreshing return to form for Doyle after the miserable “Mazarin Stone,” and it’s one of the stronger stories in the book to boot. In fact, Doyle does some backtracking on his last two stories, having Watson claim that “I was either not present or played so small a part that [some stories]
will speak not here of forgeries by other hands than mine, which include such drivel as ‘The Lion’s Mane,’‘The Mazarin Stone,’‘The Creeping Man,’ and ‘The Three Gables.’” The fact that other players in the Great Game have latched onto this as a potential explanation of the quality of these stories is telling. “The Mazarin Stone” has already shown its own failings from top to bottom, so it’s hard to refute Meyer’s attempt to simply discount those four stories. (Although, to be fair, The