Re: Re: RARA-AVIS: holmes a druggie ??

Date: 02 May 2002

Long message alert!

This is off a website, can't remember the name but if you Google search for Sherlock Holmes and cocaine it'll pop up. There is more, and a lot of other articles that will interest any Holmesians. I think you are right though in that it is latter day adaptations of Holmes that have made such an issue of his drug use/abuse. This article goes on to say that the most surprising thing about it at the time was Watson's vehement opposition to it - well ahead of the rest of the medical community. Just to get this back on group matters I don't think Holmes is hardboiled either. However, asskicking carpenter's son, on the run from authority, mesmerising speaker, on the mean streets of judea but not mean himself, HB or what? Colin, flippantly

Conan Doyle was a prolific and rapid writer who contributed more than thirty full-length books, over one hundred and fifty short stories, as well as numerous poems, plays, essays and pamphlets but is best known for the four novels and fifty-six short stories that comprise the Holmesian canon. The first story A Study in Scarlet, was published initially in November 1887 and the final study Shoscombe Old Place was published in The Strand in April 1927. Holmes's much publicised drug habit is directly observed in only two stories: The Sign of Four (1890) and A Scandal in Bohemia (1891) with vague or historical references in seven other tales. Why did Doyle inflict his character with this behavioural flaw? The view promoted by some Holmesian scholars (5) that this was for "no other reason than to add to his idiosyncrasies" is unsatisfactory. Doyle had watched his own father's addiction to alcohol result in his eventual commitment to mental institutions. His medical knowled!
 ge of drugs also added to his appreciation of cocaine's potency (6). Another biographer suggested that because Doyle began writing A Study in Scarlet on 8 March 1886, the same day that an article on cocaine appeared in one of Doyle's favorite periodicals, Chambers Journal, that this supplied him with the idea for Holmes's addiction (7). This is a flawed deduction for no reference was made to cocaine in the story, although Watson states that he "might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion". Doyle had no intention of serialising this fiction and was only enticed to do so by Joseph Stoddart several years later. Thus it is implausible that Doyle would lay down this suspicion to be proven true in later adventures.

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