(So this is hardly the most earth-shattering of observations. It’s simply something that I find amusing and slightly curious from the beginning of A Study in Scarlet.)
End of chapter one:
"Oh! a mystery is it?" I cried, rubbing my hands. "This is very piquant. I am much obliged to you for bringing us together. “‘The proper study of mankind is man,’ you know."
"You must study him, then," Stamford said, as he bade me goodbye. "You’ll find him a knotty problem, though. I’ll wager he learns more about you than you about him. Goodbye."
"Goodbye," I answered, and strolled to my hotel, considerably interested in my new acquaintance.
Directly preceding Watson’s list of Holmes’ limits:
I pondered over our short conversation, however, and endeavoured to draw my deductions from it…
I love Watson’s curiosity about Holmes at the beginning of Study in Scarlet. It’s charming, and more than a little interesting that Watson, in the early part of the book, acts a lot like Holmes. If I didn’t know who was narrating the passages I’ve quoted here, I’d guess Holmes. It’s odd: Watson clearly loves a mystery (as his knowledge of detective fiction also shows), but when Holmes tells Watson what he does, Watson is incredibly distrustful.
Whether it is just an example of Conan Doyle’s bad continuity, I don’t know. I would prefer, however, that it is meant to illustrate that Holmes and Watson are not so very different, that they have similar interests and passions, but that for Watson deduction and detective work are simply a game and a story. For Holmes, they are a Game and a science. I like watching Watson’s induction into Holmes’ way of thinking, as these things come out from the story and become a real part of his world. Again, it ties into that wonderful line: “I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”