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Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening the Case of The Hound of the Baskervilles
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Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening the Case of The Hound of the Baskervilles

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  280 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
A playfully brilliant re-creation of one of the most-loved detective stories of all time; the companion book no Holmes fan should be without.

Eliminate the impossible, Holmes said, and whatever is left must be the solution. But as Pierre Bayard finds in this dazzling reinvestigation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, sometimes the master missed his mark. Using the last thoug
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jonathan
Mar 19, 2012 Jonathan rated it really liked it
With such an ambitious, and in some aspects arrogant, title Pierre Bayard was always going to have to write a very convincing analysis. Which in my opinion he managed to do while also throwing in a hint of literary criticism of a type I had not paid attention to as of yet. And while such things appeared at first disconnected from his analysis he managed to pull everything back together by the end to throw the entire case on its head.

Bayard for the first half of the book begins with a recap of p
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Helmut
Sep 21, 2014 Helmut rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holmes war ein blutiger Anfänger
Wirklich faszinierend: Die Aufzählung so vieler Fehler, die Holmes im Laufe seiner Ermittlungen gemacht hat. Kaum zu glauben, dass so jemand einen solchen Ruf haben kann. Aber Holmes' Macken überspielen seine Inkompetenz grandios, das muss man ihm zugestehen.

Wie bei vielen Büchern Bayards gibt es Missverständnisse - viele Leser meinen, dass es Bayard darum gehe, Holmes (oder Conan Doyle) in Misskredit zu bringen, aus Neid, Arroganz, Besserwisserei oder sonst einem
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Michael
Dec 22, 2011 Michael rated it it was ok
I'm going to chalk much of my distaste for this book due to bad translation. The flow of language is terrible, making this a difficult read for me from the start.

Another large part of my distaste is the sheer arrogance of the author that drips from every page. Holmes was arrogant, too, but his was derived from his success in solving problems where others where having trouble discerning the mere existence of an issue. Holmes also showed a more humble side numerous times. Pierre Bayard exemplifies
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Sarah W
Feb 24, 2009 Sarah W rated it it was ok
I can't quite decide if this is a perfect example of tongue-in-cheek meta-criticism, or a nutty rereading padded with chapters of justification that essentially sum up to "It's my opinion, so it can't be wrong." I suggest skipping to the last chapter and just enjoying Bayard's reworking of the plot, which isn't without its own gaping holes but is somewhat more satisfying than the solution in the original.
Niklas
Sadly, this is not a very amusing read. Unlike "The Physics of Superheroes", a book with a similar idea of applying real world reasoning to a world of fiction, this book takes itself a bit too seriously. I will say however that when Bayard's version of the crime was fleshed out in the final chapters I could not disagree with his findings. Annoying as it is, his theory does make a lot of sense.
That having been said, his overall reasoning is flawed at best. He makes assumptions based apparently so
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Sandy
Aug 27, 2009 Sandy rated it it was ok
This slim volume takes a clever idea (re-solving the mystery of the House of the Baskervilles) and pads it out in an attempt to be able to justify the idea being presented as a full book instead of a single essay. Bayard expounds on literary theories of whether or not fictional characters can do things without the author knowing (handled pretentiously here; much more cleverly done in the fictional universes of Jasper Fforde), he has a tediously long chapter on whether or not Sherlock Holmes ...more
Ryan Cooper
Dec 07, 2016 Ryan Cooper rated it did not like it
Arrogant, self-indulgent, and guilty of the same stretches in logic that it criticizes. And I don't even necessarily disagree with the conclusion.

It's also 40-50% literary criticism, just as a fair warning. I don't consider that a drawback per se, but some might.
Julie
Oct 30, 2016 Julie rated it liked it
This was a very interesting take on this case and Sherlock Holmes opinion on it.
Arthur
Nov 11, 2016 Arthur rated it liked it
An interesting alternative hypothesis. Definitely has some merit. A bit long-winded.
Derek Emerson
Jul 13, 2009 Derek Emerson rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-books-read
In preparation for Pierre Bayard's Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong I returned to my childhood favorite reading. Granted, the Hound has never been my favorite Holmes story, but I found it to be a fun, exciting, and an interesting read. The story is steeped in the gothic tradition with the large estate, deadly moor, oppressive fog, and desolate landscape. Doyle succeeds in creating a character out of the landscape in a way that Willa Cather's does (and you try fitting those two in the senetence.) The ...more
Brian Bess
Apr 07, 2013 Brian Bess rated it it was ok
A short book with a thin premise


This is a short book. It would be even shorter without the first 30 pages or so, which consists of a lengthy but well-written summary of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles.’ While this recap is not really necessary to the audience for this book—for how many people would care to read this book without having first read the original?—it may serve useful for readers wishing to refresh their memories of the novel. I had just read ‘The Hound…’ and I read it, although I did
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Todd Stockslager
Jun 05, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing
First, to get out of the way the least interesting part of this book: yes, Bayard makes a convincing case that the great detective was wrong in nearly every detail in his most famous case.

Second, some suggested prerequisites to get the full understanding and enjoyment from Bayard's seemingly contrarian reading:

--Bayard's slim volume How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, where he first presents his argument that books have a life beyond the written page: Each reader brings to a book their own
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Jay
Jul 23, 2015 Jay rated it it was ok
The idea that Sherlock Holmes might be wrong is a little like the idea that the king of France is bald.

Bayard plays the game all mystery readers play, testing the theories against the evidence, and the game most readers play, testing the solution revealed by the detective against the evidence. So far, nothing too unusual. Is Templeteton's strategy for enriching himself improbable, far-fetched, and likely to fail? Absolutely.

Where he is, um, original, is where he suggests that Templeton therefor
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Lis Carey
Feb 11, 2013 Lis Carey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pierre Bayard reads The Hound of the Baskervilles, and comes to the same conclusion many other readers have: In this particular case, Sherlock Holmes was wrong.

This is a work of slightly tongue in cheek, very French literary criticism. As such, it's not for everyone. This isn't a fault in the book, but simply a matter of taste.

Bayard begins with an explanation of what he calls "detective criticism," and a recap of the events of The Hound of the Baskervilles. This is the preliminary to analyzing
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Eric
Mar 27, 2010 Eric rated it it was ok
This was a terribly-written book, but I will chalk that up to translation issues, as it was written in French.

More importantly, the first 2/3s of the book is useless navelgazing of the worst kind. Do characters in books come to life and cause real harm in the real world? Of course not, you git.

The final 1/3 of the book is another indictment against Holmes' solution of the HotB. Unfortunately, Bayard does not stick on target and spends a lot of time discussing Holmes' relationship to ACD.

Howeve
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Maurizio Codogno
Nov 15, 2010 Maurizio Codogno rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
Siete convinti che nell'Amleto l'assassino sia Claudio? Allora non avete letto bene il testo della tragedia, e vi siete limitati a seguire pedissequamente quanto affermato da Shakespeare senza notare le incongruenze messe nero su bianco nel testo della tragedia. Pierre Bayard si occupa di critica poliziesca, cioè di rileggere i libri gialli e fare nuove ipotesi che siano più rispettose del testo. In questo caso il libro messo sotto torchio è lo sherlockiano Il mastino dei Baskerville. Dopo un br ...more
Dina
Aug 14, 2016 Dina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author spoils not one, but two entirely unrelated Agatha Christie books in this text without warning, so if you still want to read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Towards Zero, maybe give this a miss. I hadn't read the latter yet, so merci for that.

The actual point of this book (what if someone else was the murderer?) would have taken about 15 pages. Unfortunately it has 200, during which the author goes and on about how his solution is the "correct" one, that the reader who accepts what an
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Deirdre
Feb 01, 2009 Deirdre rated it liked it
A glowing beast stocks what is supposed to be the last of the rich and influential Baskerville family. At least two men seem to have been killed on the cold and desolate English moor by the bloody hound. All hopes for the future of the young Baskerville rest on the cunning of the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. But did he get his conclusion all wrong? Did the real murderer go free?

According to French literature professor, Pierre Bayard, not only did Holmes make numerous mistakes,
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Lindsey
Aug 05, 2013 Lindsey rated it liked it
Shelves: sherlock, non-fiction
One of the most interesting books I've read this year. Bayard introduced me to a lot of new concepts like character emmigration/immigration, detective criticism, and some of Doyle's thoughts about Holmes. And the symmetry between Hugo Baskerville's murder and Bayard's solution was very Ooooh!

I did have a problem with Bayard saying that Holmes deductions were wrong, when Bayard wasn't actually present at the investigation. All the information Bayard has to go off of is from Watson's supposedly fl
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Chani
Feb 09, 2009 Chani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For years Pierre Bayard, Literature teacher and shrink, has been carrying on what he called himself "une critique policière" which is literary critic applied to detective novels.
According to him, when it comes to the case of the hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes got it all wrong so Pierre Bayard leads a counter-investigation while writing an essay on literature. This book is an exercice in style of exegesis and critic brilliantly accomplished by an Academic who fights with the text, so
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Catherine Delors
Feb 22, 2010 Catherine Delors rated it really liked it
Bayard begins with a very pedestrian exposition of the plot of The Hound of the Baskervilles. As a Conan Doyle enthusiast, I found this a bit irritating. Now I understand Bayard's reasons: he needed to strip the novel of its wonderful atmosphere, its poetry. Bayard undoes Conan Doyle's work, he de-writes the novel. Why? To expose the workings of the plot, the shoddiness of Holmes's deductions and the improbability of the supposed solution to the mystery. And why would a writer of Conan Doyle's ...more
D2MillerGR
Feb 25, 2011 D2MillerGR rated it liked it
Really a 3.5 star...

I'll elect to describe this book with a professor's comment from one of my C- art history term papers, "Interesting theoretical paper."

Bayard provides some valid holes in the case, some of which may have already been noticeable to careful readers of the original and others quite unexpected. However, his own "case" is susceptible to the same skepticism he applies to Holmes' construct. The book is worth reading for the beginning, where he talks about understanding life from a
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Tracy
Jan 17, 2016 Tracy rated it it was ok
Literary critic Bayard creates a new approach to reading classical (or any kind of) literature which he coins "detective criticism." This reading of a text is not simply content to declare that Oedipus really didn't kill his father or that Claudius wasn't really the king's killer, but it sets out to prove who really is responsible for the deed. By observing disparities in a novel (e.g., there was more than one person on the road with Oedipus who could have done the deed or that observations made ...more
Mark
Dec 18, 2014 Mark rated it liked it
While this short literary study is not as profound as How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, Pierre Bayard once again demonstrates that playfulness and seriousness are not opposites. Bayard explains how Conan Doyle's disgust with Sherlock Holmes caused Doyle to take revenge on Holmes by having Holmes incorrectly solve the mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles. Bayard offers an alternative solution - while I wasn't convinced, it didn't seem any less convincing that Holmes' original solution ...more
Tucker
Feb 01, 2009 Tucker rated it liked it
An arousing premise of reopening a fictional detective case. The literary theory that follows is curious but not especially compelling or rigorous. The author refers to Thomas Pavel's analysis in "Fictional Worlds" of the so-called "segregationist" and "integrationist" views of fiction and non-fiction; in other words, he asks whether fiction and non-fiction are entirely separate realms or whether there is a permeable membrane between truth and fiction. The author takes the integrationist side, ...more
Mary
Nov 07, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it
The author's analysis is very intriguing. He is either very serious about the fuzzy area between fiction and reality, or he is taking the idea of 'serious scholarship' about literature for a ride. I can't tell....but the portion of the book where he analyzes Holmes' solution to the Hound of the Baskervilles is top notch! His solution is much more satisfying than the ending from Doyle, and his reasoning is quite sound. Highly recommended for Holmes' fans and anyone else who enjoys mysteries. One ...more
Id Davidovich
Aug 30, 2010 Id Davidovich rated it liked it
Pleasantly written (in translation), but loosely reasoned. Bayard is more successful in revealing possible flaws in Holmes's conclusions than he is in concocting plausible alternatives. Also, some of the textual "clues" cited by the author exist only in the French translations of the novel, not the English original, and should therefore be discounted.

Bayard's "detective criticism" is an interesting literary exercise, but I suspect that it lends itself to exactly the fault with which he credits H
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Dave
Nov 19, 2008 Dave rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Holmes Scholars and Supporters of Outrageous Claims
Bayard's case lending an "autonomous" will to literary characters is so ridiculous, but so well-argued that as I read this book I was again and again certain that he MUST be joking and again and again supplied with (mostly) plausible arguments. More than legitimate autonomy on the part of the author's creation, the author claims that through the subjective closure provided by individual readers, the spaces in the necessarily incomplete universe of a work of fiction can be filled in such a way as ...more
Michael
Jun 10, 2009 Michael rated it liked it
On picking up the book, I thought it would be an outrageous and preposterous take on this mystery classic. But after finishing the work, I found it to be much more credible than I would have imagined.

Especially intriguing was Bayard's criticism of the flaws in Holmes's deductions. On my reading of The Hound of the Baskervilles, I didn't notice any of Bayard's points. But after hearing Bayard's critique, my reaction was: "Hmm. I don't know how I missed that." Or "Yes, I agree. That doesn't make
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David R.
Jun 15, 2010 David R. rated it it was ok
Shelves: unclassified
A very strange book. There's a real problem here, folks. This fellow goes to great length to identify the "real" murderer in the Conan Doyle classic and torpedo the alleged genius of Sherlock Holmes. Whether or not his case is persuasive (and it is, within the bounds he's set for detective criticism and Conan Doyle's presumptive attitude towards his literary creation), this is at the end of the day a book about a FICTIONAL character. Does it really matter who the murderer might be? Can't we ...more
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Pierre Bayard (born 1954) is a French author, professor of literature and connoisseur of psychology.

Bayard's recent book Comment parler des livres que l'on n'a pas lus?, or "How to talk about books you haven't read", is a bestseller in France and has received much critical attention in English language press.

A few of his books present revisionist readings of famous fictional mysteries. Not only do
...more
More about Pierre Bayard...

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“Our relationship with literary characters, at least to those that exercise a certain attraction over us, rests in fact on a denial. We know perfectly well, on a conscious level, that these characters “do not exist,” or in any case do not exist in the same way as do the inhabitants of the real world. But things manifest in an entirely different way on the unconscious level, which is interested not in the ontological differences between worlds but in the effect they produce on the psyche.
Every psychoanalyst knows how deeply a subject can be influenced, and even shaped, sometimes to the point of tragedy, by a fictional character and the sense of identification it gives rise to. This remark must first of all be understood as a reminder that we ourselves are usually fictional characters for other people […]”
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“[…] there exists around the written world opened by the work a multitude of other possible worlds, which we can complete by means of our images and our words. Denying oneself this work of completion in the name of some hypothetical fidelity to the work is bound to fail: we can indeed reject filling these gaps in a conscious way, but we cannot prevent our unconscious from finishing the work, according to its priorities and those of the era in which it was written.” 2 likes
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