Monday, December 10, 2012

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study In Scarlet
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study In Scarlet introduces the eccentric genius of Sherlock Holmes to the world. This baffling murder mystery, with the cryptic word Rache written in blood, first brought Holmes together with Dr. John Watson.

Ward Lock & Co

Originally N/A

Rosy's scrawlings on A Study In Scarlet
Now, this is going to be an odd recommendation. I'm recommending that this be read not because it is by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and features the brilliant Sherlock Holmes but because it was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and features writing within the grasps of most of us and a character only partially formed. Within A Study In Scarlet you are faced with Sherlock as you've probably never thought of him. He's a self-righteous prig for the most part, hasn't hit upon his drugs yet, doesn't explain himself until everything is over and his deductions aren't so out of the box as you'd never think of them yourself in a similar situation. While he does show flairs of brilliance and aptitude his fellows fail to and some of us today still would he isn't nearly as much of a super detective in A Study In Scarlet as the Sherlock legend tells us.
But this is why you should read A Study In Scarlet. The fact that Sherlock is within your grasp of understanding, is faulty and only partially himself as though A Study In Scarlet is the product of one or two few drafts means you can start somewhere fairly comfortable and feel capable of grasping how Sherlock's mind works. Also, knowing that the story isn't as well formed as it could be will allow you to forgive the other issues that come along, such as a rather horrible depiction of the Mormons. While the Mormon section of the story is entertaining it does break into the thread of Sherlock's story rather harshly and depict the Mormons as kidnappers, murderers and enslavers of women. As fiction it is what it is but a good editor would have saved Doyle for outcries over the subject, which ended up seeing him apologise. Privately, of course, for he couldn't be see to really be wrong.
Seeing the issues in A Study In Scarlet, being able to put them into context as establishing a character, starting a new series and socio-political viewpoints of the time (not held by everyone) also allows you to get a handle on the ones to come in Doyle's subsequent Sherlock Holmes stories. When reading A Study In Scarlet you need to keep in mind the era it was written in, even if only to comprehend just how many times Sherlock and Watson ejaculate. I write this while giggling but it is a sign of our times that I find it so amusing.
Above all though, A Study In Scarlet is fun to read, quick and entertaining. The elements of Sherlock and Watson as we know them are present, like new-laid foundations of a castle. Seeing this groundwork laid out by Doyle is seeing the inner workings of Sherlock, a not often rewarded treat. Also, seeing the early relationship between Sherlock and Watson is enough for you to believe Watson is by far the finer and better adapted fellow, if not the genius, and that Sherlock almost needs a minder, a situation that only gets worse.

I'd recommend this book to: anyone capable of reading it but those who love detective and crimes stories in particular.

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