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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

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  408 ratings  ·  102 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
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.38  · 
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 ·  408 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Jonathan Terrington
Mar 18, 2012 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
Sarah W
Feb 19, 2009 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. ...more
Dec 22, 2011 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
May 19, 2009 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 make ...more
Nov 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I think this author really likes to listen to himself. It seems to me that his main argument is that in the world of fictional works, only a fraction (say 25%) is put down in words, the reader supplies the rest with their imagination and knowledge (which is why you can never read the same book twice [you gain knowledge and imagination and thus fill the book's world just slightly differently each time] and why you'll never read the same book as your friends). And because the author cannot control ...more
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
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Gosh, this book is an absurd flight-of-fancy, irritatingly smug, and sits at the opposite end of the literary theory spectrum to myself. It is also, incidentally, well-written and coherent within its own framework.

Bayard adopts the viewpoint of the 19th century school of literary theory (somewhat back in vogue) that characters can have a life beyond the page. He argues forcefully for the fact that we all play some role in bringing characters to life, interpreting the gaps and lacunae in the aut
Jul 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm really very much not a fan of **Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening the Case of The Hound of the Baskervilles** by *Pierre Bayard*. Spoilers ahead, though I won't spoil the proposed solution to the Baskerville case.

The book's premise is this: Doyle was so tilted by having to bring back Sherlock Holmes that he didn't correctly solve this case, because he was busy writing an evil-associated, incompetent, absent Holmes. The author proposes an alternate resolution, and shows plenty of sources f
Sep 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
I made the mistake of thinking this book was a parody. Unfortunately, it was not.

While touted as a love-letter to crime novels, this book seeks to destroy one of the best loved crime novels. Basically, I got the impression that the author genuinely dislikes the Hound of the Baskervilles and wanted to re-write the novel how he thought it should be written, because obviously Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - the author - didn't actually know who committed the crime. On top of that, the author spent a lot o
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really want to discuss this book with other acadafen people. (Is that still a thing? I miss LJ.) It is so very clearly a discussion of concepts of fandom, only through an academic lens which knows nothing about fandom and is using academic terms to describe things which fans have long since assumed.

It's an interesting look at *The Hound of the Baskervilles*, one which I thoroughly enjoyed. (If you want the gist of the story without reading the book, I suggest the excellent LA Theatre Works aud
T Collen
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Part literary criticism and fiction theory and part a dissection of Holmes' deductions. While the author has some plausible reasoning for who the real murderer was, he neglects explaining a major clue involving the ancestry of the novel's victims and killer which renders his argument insufficient. While readers interested primarily interested in the analysis of HOUNd might find the literary criticism and fiction theory tedious and irrelevant, I found in them new ideas for exploring literarature. ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Bayard, like many Sherlockians before him, conceives a clever alternative explanation to a Holmes story. Unlike other Sherlockians before him, he sees the need to pointlessly steep his version in a watery broth of low-grade literary theory. A reader could skip the 140 pages leading up to the author's 40-page retelling and not have missed anything interesting except Bayard's translator inserting footnotes to point out errors in his reasoning. It's fair justice to Bayard that my copy of this book, ...more
Cameron Toney
Mar 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
Ok, I'll bite- show me where The Hound of the Baskervilles goes wrong.
This book is an interesting concept, which is rather marred by being too padded out. All you really need is the first and last chapters, to remind how Sherlock Holmes solves the case, and to show how this author would have solved it instead. That makes for a fun little read, but more as an essay than a tome.
The rest is dense, and I didn't absorb it, though I'm sure the author wanted me to take something from it.
Ah well.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
I thought this was going to be some lighthearted read about a guy making fun of Sherlock Holmes and how awful he is. But this is actually an in depth piece of literary criticism on Sherlock as a character. Parts of it were rather dry, and it took a long time to get to the point, but I still enjoyed (and mostly buy) the author's conclusion about who the real murderer is. ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not quite as brilliant as Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?, which was Bayard’s tour de force, but this is nevertheless a skilful and perspicuous deconstruction of The Hound Of The Baskervilles that lays bare the many flaws and inconsistencies in Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes novel and presents an alternative reading of the story.
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
An enjoyable, at times intriguing, but, to me, not quite convincing argument as to who 'really was' the killer in the 'Hound of the Baskervilles'. Includes an exploration of the nature of literature and reality. ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have
Interesting. A little wordy at times. I feel like most of the middle of the book could have been left out and not changed anything. He seems to be defending arguments that no one brought up. But it was a fast enjoyable read.
Through the first half of this book I couldn't help comparing the idea of ACD and SH being wrong about who the murderer really was to the question of was there or wasn't there enough room on the door for both Jack & Rose. (Answer: no) But you can't compare the two, because the conclusion of who the villain really is actually made a lot of sense and was an interesting way to think about a beloved novel. ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book
Well thought out argument and actually had answers for some issues that had bothered me when I read The Hound of the Baskervilles. Fun insightful and thoughtful read.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book
Well thought out argument and actually had answers for some issues that had bothered me when I read The Hound of the Baskervilles. Fun insightful and thoughtful read.
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Curiosity and skepticism are profoundly lacking in the world. While I'm not entirely convinced by the conclusions M. Bayard presents, I am thrilled he's out there questioning things. ...more
Anna Gabriele
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I Love it so much!
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Love the premise and enjoyed the parts pertaining directly to that. Too much filler and the translation felt clunky.
Nov 11, 2020 rated it liked it
for any skeptic or Sherlock Holmes fan. preferably both.

........ wait a minute
Derek Emerson
Jul 03, 2009 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 en ...more
Brian Bess
Apr 07, 2013 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
Todd Stockslager
Jun 05, 2015 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
Jul 20, 2015 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
Mar 27, 2010 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.

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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

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25 likes · 5 comments
“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 […]”
“[…] 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.” 4 likes
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