RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V4 #277

From: marianne.macdonald@lineone.net
Date: 03 May 2002

>Are you implying that
>Holmes wasn't an addict? Because Scudder
>unquestionably is.
Were we perhaps being asked to cut this particular discussion short?

All that I meant is that both were sometime addicts to substances which were not themselves illegal at the time; that to get twitchy about Holmes's cocaine is no more reasonable in a historical context than to be shocked by Scudder's alcohol. Neither of these is a law-breaker because of his habit; the habit and his reactions to it are important to the characterisation. I did find parallels between them, related to the question whether Holmes is hb.

(As for us, we're having a cannabis festival down the road tomorrow.)

For all that he is surprisingly boilish, though, I think this is more interesting to a consideration of Holmes as a character than to the development of the tradition of (really, American) hb lit. For that, I agree entirely with those who've pointed out the joint influence of Hemingway's language and the Western's mythology. Conan Doyle's influences seem to me to have been a kind of mixture of Stevenson (and other 19th century British adventure story writers) and Wilkie Collins; the invention of the tortured, ethical intellectual, Holmes, is something special which he brought in to that mix. All right, now jump on me....


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