Watson Deduces

(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.” 

And then Holmes was like, “Calm your tits, fanboy.”

thatjessjohnson:

I’ve always had an affection for the bit in A Study in Scarlet when Watson and Holmes discuss other fictional detectives. Aside from sparking one of my favorite little canon quotes - which I put on a t-shirt once - I think it’s a delightfully smart exchange.

It’s the “So… What sort of books do you like?” stage in the getting-to-know-you process. Watson’s appreciation for detective fiction and Holmes’s criticism of it is lovely character building. What it says about Holmes is interesting enough, but I particularly like Watson’s reactions in this scene.

I felt rather indignant at having two characters whom I had admired treated in this cavalier style.

Oh, Watson, every nerd who has ever loved a thing knows that feeling. I love how this bit establishes Watson’s investment in stories, while Holmes swans around smoking and delivering the Victorian equivalent of, “Yeah, I guess that band is good, if you’ve never heard music before.”

It’s also just a smart way to take care of the acknowledgment factor. Having two characters express disparate opinions about the works that helped inspire their existence is such a nice way of saying, “This may have come from that, but it’s also not that.” Affectionate acknowledgment and dismissal all in one.

You’re one meta bastard, Sir Arthur, you really are.

Holmes, you old hipster you. Watson, you fanboy.

Yes, it’s a brilliant little passage. Though just a tiny little bit vain on the part of good old Sir Arthur, having his detective scorn other fictional detectives? You make a good point, however, “This may have come from that, but it’s also not that.” Still, it seems like there is a little bit of “my detective is better/cleverer/quirkier than your detective” going on. 

And I like that Watson is a fan. That for him, stepping into Holmes’ world feels a little like stepping into a story. I like how unsure Watson is that people like Holmes really exist, that this is a life he could really have. It’s sort of the ultimate fan dream, isn’t it: to discover that the story you love is true. “I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.” Yup, that was the part where I died from the meta. (SO MUCH META! It’s glorious.)

Also, “That book made me positively ill!” Is a phrase I shall be using in the future. 

nympheline:


There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had considerably more freely than I ought. 
I had no friends who would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence. 

i am constantly amazed at how much an author can convey of a life he has never known.
my pool of data isn’t huge, but i’ve known some soldiers who came back from iraq and kosovo. although they celebrated to the point of unconsciousness upon their discharge, there was one feeling that characterised the days immediately following their return to america: boredom. they were, one and all, without cessation, bored. a typical phone conversation went something like this:
me: hey, what’s up? how’re you doing?
them: bored. i’m bored.
me: it’s friday night.  you’re downtown with a bunch of army buddies, right? drinking and carousing and flirting with chicks?
them: yup.
me: and you’re bored?
them: yup.
me: why didn’t you stay home and watch a movie, or build a birdhouse, or something?
them: because it’s boring.
me: well, what could we do that wouldn’t be boring?
them: everything’s boring. oh, maybe i’ll get in a fight.  wanna come downtown so i can get in a fight over you?
and though i can’t approve of watson “spending such money as [he] had considerably more freely than [he] ought,” neither can i exactly blame him. every soldier i’ve known has blown tens of thousands of dollars when he came back. in one extreme case, the ex-army man bought a new computer, then a car, and finally a new house and all the furnishings to fill it. in a week. and then, because he was so bored, he decided to re-enlist and try to get sent back to kosovo.
i always thought holmes was one bored by the flavour of mere existence, forever spicing his life with cases and cocaine, but i forgot about watson’s frustration at the drudgery of ordinary days. poor john watson, wandering through london waiting for the war to come to him.
in summary, i’m struck by two things:
1. a.c.d.’s ability to so perfectly capture the tone of a life he never lived,
and
2. that john watson feels the weight of boredom more than sherlock ever could, but (with knee-jerk dependability) it is always sherlock holmes whom i characterise by boredom.

This is really interesting, and I think you are absolutely right. Especially in your second point. If I’m particularly noticing anything on this re-read, it’s that many of the assumptions and characteristics I’ve built up in my head about Holmes and Watson are shockingly off the mark. They are more complicated, and to a degree more similar, than I usually think. 
Thank you. 

nympheline:

There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had considerably more freely than I ought. 

I had no friends who would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence. 

i am constantly amazed at how much an author can convey of a life he has never known.

my pool of data isn’t huge, but i’ve known some soldiers who came back from iraq and kosovo. although they celebrated to the point of unconsciousness upon their discharge, there was one feeling that characterised the days immediately following their return to america: boredom. they were, one and all, without cessation, bored. a typical phone conversation went something like this:

me: hey, what’s up? how’re you doing?

them: bored. i’m bored.

me: it’s friday night.  you’re downtown with a bunch of army buddies, right? drinking and carousing and flirting with chicks?

them: yup.

me: and you’re bored?

them: yup.

me: why didn’t you stay home and watch a movie, or build a birdhouse, or something?

them: because it’s boring.

me: well, what could we do that wouldn’t be boring?

them: everything’s boring. oh, maybe i’ll get in a fight.  wanna come downtown so i can get in a fight over you?

and though i can’t approve of watson “spending such money as [he] had considerably more freely than [he] ought,” neither can i exactly blame him. every soldier i’ve known has blown tens of thousands of dollars when he came back. in one extreme case, the ex-army man bought a new computer, then a car, and finally a new house and all the furnishings to fill it. in a week. and then, because he was so bored, he decided to re-enlist and try to get sent back to kosovo.

i always thought holmes was one bored by the flavour of mere existence, forever spicing his life with cases and cocaine, but i forgot about watson’s frustration at the drudgery of ordinary days. poor john watson, wandering through london waiting for the war to come to him.

in summary, i’m struck by two things:

1. a.c.d.’s ability to so perfectly capture the tone of a life he never lived,

and

2. that john watson feels the weight of boredom more than sherlock ever could, but (with knee-jerk dependability) it is always sherlock holmes whom i characterise by boredom.

This is really interesting, and I think you are absolutely right. Especially in your second point. If I’m particularly noticing anything on this re-read, it’s that many of the assumptions and characteristics I’ve built up in my head about Holmes and Watson are shockingly off the mark. They are more complicated, and to a degree more similar, than I usually think. 

Thank you. 

"

“It would be robbing you of the credit of the case if I was to presume to help you,” remarked my friend. “You are doing so well now that it would be a pity for anyone to interfere.” There was a world of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke. “If you will let me know how your investigations go,” he continued, “I shall be happy to give you any help I can. In the meantime I should like to speak to the constable who found the body. Can you give me his name and address?”

Lestrade glanced at his note-book. “John Rance,” he said. “He is off duty now. You will find him at 46, Audley Court, Kennington Park Gate.”

Holmes took a note of the address.

“Come along, Doctor,” he said; “we shall go and look him up. I’ll tell you one thing which may help you in the case,” he continued, turning to the two detectives. “There has been murder done, and the murderer was a man. He was more than six feet high, was in the prime of life, had small feet for his height, wore coarse, square-toed boots and smoked a Trichinopoly cigar. He came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was drawn by a horse with three old shoes and one new one on his off fore leg. In all probability the murderer had a florid face, and the finger-nails of his right hand were remarkably long. These are only a few indications, but they may assist you.”

Lestrade and Gregson glanced at each other with an incredulous smile.

“If this man was murdered, how was it done?” asked the former.

“Poison,” said Sherlock Holmes curtly, and strode off. “One other thing, Lestrade,” he added, turning round at the door: “`Rache,’ is the German for `revenge;’ so don’t lose your time looking for Miss Rachel.”

With which Parthian shot he walked away, leaving the two rivals open-mouthed behind him.

"

What I love most about the Sherlock Holmes stories are the deductions. His capacity for perception is incredible, and hearing him list off his answers is always such a rush. I find myself trying to analyze the scene through the narrator’s (Watson’s) eyes to try to beat Sherlock to the solutions. When that proves impossible, I simply try to keep up! (via elizabethkate)

Oh, I agree! I love the deductions. I’m afraid, however, that I fall more at the “simply try to keep up” end of the spectrum, but that is a big part of why I like them so much. It’s a skill that I don’t have, that I’ll never have. It’s fascinating to watch. Part of the reason that I love these stories so much is that I (usually) have no idea how they’ll turn out, and that I actually sort of don’t want to figure it out for myself. I like watching Holmes play the game, and knowing that he is roughly eleven thousand times better at it than I would be. I sort of like being baffled. That is not a usual feeling for me, I’m continually impressed that Conan Doyle manages to change the way I like to read mysteries. 

Better late than never!

touchtherose submitted:
  1. Name, general area of origin, and length of time you have considered yourself a Sherlockian/Holmesian/whatever the kids are calling themselves these days? My name is Solange, I’m from Córdoba, Argentina, and I guess I should say I only vaguely consider myself a Sherlockian (I think I have to work a bit more before calling myself that - personal preference, I like to be very meticulous upon entering a fandom) since I was pretty much forced (and how thankful I am for that) to watch the BBC series. While I saw the first movie with RDJ first, I think, I wasn’t as involved in the fandom… like, at all.
  2. Have you read the canon stories before? Let’s just say no. I’ve read several things when I was younger that I later discovered were awfully mistranslated.
  3. If you have: favourite story? -
  4. Favourite adaptation/continuation/other use of the characters? Oh, I love both the BBC series and the most recent movies. I think they both have very good things about them.
  5. Holmes or Watson? (Yes, you actually have to choose. Come on, I know everybody has a preference, out with it. Yes, I really am this cruel. If you say “I can’t choose!” you better have a darn good reason why… No, I’m kidding. Sort of.) Jawn Watson! Not that I do not love Sherlock, of course, but Watson intrigues me so, particularly the BBC version.
  6. Reason why you want to read all the stories in 84 days? What could possibly be more fun than reading these books in such good company? Besides, it’s always been something I told myself I should do. Adding a challenge just made it even more tempting!
  7. Stories about murder, or stories about thefts? As long as they’re well-written, it doesn’t really matter to me. Ok, I might be a bit biased towards murder.
  8. What is Watson’s bullpup? (tee hee. Sorry. Don’t worry about it.)
    I’m sorely tempted to ignore any other possibly correct answer and just start to squee about Gladstone because sdhjdgagf dogs (yes, I have clear and logical priorities… yes <_<).
  9. Anything else you want to share with the group? Not really, only that I hope we have a good time and tons of fun :)

platonicteamugs:

Something’s just occurred to me while re-reading A Study in Scarlet for holmesin84days.

It’s so heart-breaking how both sentences start out so casual, but turn so bitter by the end. Being “as free as air” would sound amazing to a young bachelor; if he weren’t so short of money. Moving to London should be a great adventure too; if the man in question had a choice. There’s just something very sad about Watson’s bitterness here, as I’m pretty sure was talking about loungers and idlers because he himself felt like one. I think he not only felt like a failure for being sent home from service, but he must have felt useless for being unable to “take care of himself” too. This is especially sad coming from someone who used to be so energetic and vigorous.

One of the things that really struck me on this reading was the subtlety of Watson’s unhappiness on returning to London, it’s not overstated, but there are a few passages, like this one, where his situation really comes through. You’re right: it is a bit hear-beaking: there is a definite sense of bitterness and self disappointment.  Watson seems to be quite good at putting on a brave face, but there is a sadness that comes through in a few places. Continuing on directly from the passage you quoted:

There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had considerably more freely than I ought. 

Just after the start of chapter two, Watson says:

I had no friends who would call upon me and break the monotony of my daily existence. 

Which is pretty bleak. It’s odd, because I usually think of Holmes as being the more “friendless” of the two, it’s good to be reminded just how lonely and futureless Watson’s life seemed before his association with Holmes began. 

Thanks for pointing this out.

(Source: sandwichpress)

thebrigadiersmoustache:

I love that when Holmes asks about the violin, he’s all anxious about it. As if he’s pretty happy to have found someone to share a flat with, but he’s all worried that he’s going to have to choose between his violin and a new flatmate. 

“The violin is my best friend and I love him, but he doesn’t have any income.”
“Oh hey, this Dr guy has money, but what if he hates me violin? I can’t get rid of my violin! Oh wait, he likes good violin players? Oh we are fine. We are so fine.” 

Yes! I also especially like:

"Do you include violin playing in your category of rows?" He asked, anxiously.

"It depends on the player," I answered. "A well-played violin is a treat for the gods- a badly played one…"

"Oh, that’s all right," he cried, with a merry laugh

Just a little bit vain about our skills, are we Sherlock? 

(Source: clarasdoctahs)

nympheline:

good night, dear holmesin84days,

good night absinthe, and green fairy haze.

good night, inventions by johann s. bach,

good night, lestrade, discovering rache.

Ha! Poetry! Excellently done, especially the “Bach”/”rache” rhyme. 

(I hope it&#8217;s okay I&#8217;m posting the answer on this blog&#8230;)
Oh good! Productivity boosts are always excellent. And I&#8217;m glad if this project is contributing in some tiny way to your wonderful artwork. 
Out of interest, who do you have reading the booktapes? I&#8217;ve been looking for a good one for years, but all the readers I&#8217;ve found have done incredibly stupid voices for Holmes, I just can&#8217;t stand it. He&#8217;s supposed to have a high pitched voice, not sound like he&#8217;s been inhaling helium. If you&#8217;ve found a good one I&#8217;d love to know&#8230;

(I hope it’s okay I’m posting the answer on this blog…)

Oh good! Productivity boosts are always excellent. And I’m glad if this project is contributing in some tiny way to your wonderful artwork. 

Out of interest, who do you have reading the booktapes? I’ve been looking for a good one for years, but all the readers I’ve found have done incredibly stupid voices for Holmes, I just can’t stand it. He’s supposed to have a high pitched voice, not sound like he’s been inhaling helium. If you’ve found a good one I’d love to know…

muetokaerou asked: I hope it's not too late to join? When a friend linked me here I was *this* close to actually screaming, if it's not a problem, I'll submit a post later to introduce myself.

Of course it’s not too late to join! Please, don’t scream, everything is okay. Take a calming breath. Shhhh. Honestly, this is all pretty relaxed. I hope I’m not some sort of evil dictator of the reading group. 

Glad to have you with us! 

I now declare this Sherlock Holmes reading group open!

Hello everyone! 

Hope everybody’s feeling limbered up and ready to read. Starting today, we’ll be reading A Study in Scarlet, the very first Holmes and Watson story. Because it’s a novel, we have one week to read it; next Saturday it’ll be time to start The Sign of Four.

Starting now, please feel free to submit/ask/post anything for the group to see! 

I hope everyone enjoys themselves, and thinks of things to discuss. As a small warning: if you haven’t read the story before, and don’t want to be spoiled, it might be best to avoid this blog for the time being. I’ll try to post things moving from the start of the book to the end of the book, but I can’t guarantee that something spoilerish might not slip in.

Good luck, everybody! 

-Kate

skeletree asked: Will we also be reading The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes? I figure the answer is probably yes, but often I hear people leave that collection out of discussions so I wasn't sure if it would be included in this (and it's the only one I don't have, so I don't want to be unprepared!). Thanks!

Yes!

What, people leave the Casebook out of discussions? I’d never heard of this! Does anyone have any idea why you would do this? I personally think it has some really fantastic stories. Suddenly I’m very confused and more than a little defensive on behalf of the Casebook… 

(If you need a copy, and don’t mind ebooks, there were some links early on in this blog about where to find the stories online for free.)

This is last minute but…

If anyone still wants to join in with us to read all Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories in 84 days, we don’t start till tomorrow! 

Please take a look at this blog for more information if you’re interested! 

List of Participants

Hello everyone! 

Alright. So, we are now getting pretty close to the start of our 84 day long reading of the Sherlock Holmes canon. I, for one, am pretty excited. 

However, before we begin, I would like to confirm who will be taking part, so that I and all the other participants can have an idea of who is in this sort of international, internet based, Sherlockian, book club, discussion group, weird thing. Here is the list of who I think will be taking part (that is, the people who “liked” the confirmation post):

quinngrey

elizabethkate

 nympheline

rox712

ladyprincessgeek-nerd

jealousofthetea

for-a-lark

therepublicofsolution

sisterbeatrice

thatjessjohnson

okoyn

curlyhairedspaniel

dalekexterminate

fledisthatmusic

capriciousarsenicdelight

jinxesforthejinxed

doctorwhonesss

moved-to-platonicteamugs

misterquark

 thebrigadiersmoustache

tabbykatification

punifa

cosmostrekker

thenamelesswizard

zangee-cokes

missilemuse

starburiedlogic

caelumfen

pappykins

astudyinsherlockholmes

chemistryholmes

*UPDATE:

seeboyrun

galleonwillow

ignoringoblivion

stealthpowersactivate

skeletree

weirdconnections

touchtherose

callmenyx

That is everybody on my list (31! Good grief. Wow.), if you don’t see your name on here, but are going to participate, please “like” the confirmation post here. It is not too late to join in! If you are on here, but are no longer planning on joining in, could you let me know, please? 

As I’ve said before, signing up for this project is not a written in stone contract, if you decide to leave the group for whatever reason, that’s totally fine. I’d just like to have an idea of who plans to start reading this Saturday!

Hope everybody is getting their page turning muscles in good shape. As always, let me know if you have any questions/comments!

-Kate

Introduction Questions

fledisthatmusic submitted:

Name, general area of origin, and length of time you have considered yourself a Sherlockian/Holmesian/whatever the kids are calling themselves these days?

Elizabeth, from Chicago but attending college in Kentucky, and only for a few months now, after discovering BBC’s Sherlock

Have you read the canon stories before?

I have not, but I can’t wait to get started on them!

If you have: favourite story?

Haven’t read the canon before.

Favourite adaptation/continuation/other use of the characters?

The only one I’ve seen so far is BBC Sherlock, and I absolutely adore it, but I’d like to see others before picking a favorite. 

Holmes or Watson? (Yes, you actually have to choose. Come on, I know everybody has a preference, out with it. Yes, I really am this cruel. If you say “I can’t choose!” you better have a darn good reason why… No, I’m kidding. Sort of.)

Hmm…I think I have to go with Holmes.

Reason why you want to read all the stories in 84 days?

I’ve wanted to read the canon after seeing Sherlock and thought that reading the stories with others would be a lot of fun.

Stories about murder, or stories about thefts? 

Murder

What is Watson’s bullpup? (tee hee. Sorry. Don’t worry about it.)

My best guess is that it’s a dog. 

Anything else you want to share with the group?

Not really, just hello to everyone and I look forward to getting to know you all!