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Archived Group Reads 2016 > A Study in Scarlet - Week 1

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message 1: by Rose (new)

Rose Rocha dos Santos (roserocha) | 33 comments Hi, everyone!

This week's reading is about: Chapters 1-4.

We'll talk also about some aspects that involve the book.

1. Conan Doyle was a doctor as well as Watson. Do you think there is something of Doyle in Watson?

2. Why Doyle tells the story by the eyes of Watson. What would change if it was told by a third person or by Sherlock himself?

3. Some believe that Sherlock Holmes had Asperger's. What do you think?
See this article for more information on the subject:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...

4. Do you agree that Holmes have influenced the development of forensic techniques?
See this article for more information on the subject:
http://scholarlycommons.law.northwest...

5. If Sherlock has so many problems with people in general, why be friends with Watson?


message 2: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1995 comments Mod
I haven't had time to read them thoroughly but those look like terrific links. I'm so glad that our game is "afoot" now that it's August and we can finally get to the first of all Sherlock Holmes stories. :D


message 3: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Troyer | 16 comments 1. Yes, there is something of Doyle in Watson. This is why many theorize that Watson is at least part Scottish (the H in his name standing for Hamish). However, Doyle's professor Joseph Bell, on whom Doyle based Holmes, said that there is much of Doyle in Holmes.
2. To find out, read The Mazarin Stone or The Blanched Soldier, considered some of the worst stories. Watson is the accessible everyman.
3. YES YES YES YES YES. I actually discovered Aspergers by wondering why Holmes was the only person, fictional or real, I understood.
4. Yes, in a sense. At the time, police investigation focused on interviewing people involved. The stories created a public demand for use of forensics, and were even studied in some places as part of police training.
5. Because no man is an island. Even the most extreme introverts need human interaction at times.


message 4: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments I read a lot of Doyle as a teenager. It's truly nice to revisit him. Doyle wrote between patients because he was bored. Little did he know how long lasting the love of Sherlock would be.

While Sherlock was modeled after Dr. Bell, I think each writer leaves a bit of him or herself behind in the characters. Forensic science was in its infancy in this time period. In order to catch a murderer, you needed an actual witness to the crime. Fingerprint evidence could be obtained, but was not admissible as many did not believe each one was unique. Often times the eye of the victim would be dissected because it was believed the image of the last thing seen would be permanently imprinted. It's rather amazing that forensics would even exist.

While modern readers are familiar with the friendship of Watson and Holmes, it's their first meeting in this book. It seems to me that in these chapters, they are not yet friends. They are still trying to figure each other out. Or rather Watson is trying to figure out Holmes.


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter It has been a few years since I read a Sherlock Holmes short story and I can't recall how long since I read this month's selection. How good it is to be reminded about the early meeting of Holmes and Watson.

Today's forensic techniques are incredible. That said, it is fascinating to see how Doyle evolves the skills of Holmes, especially the delightfully esoteric knowledge he has. I imagine all good doctors, of any century, must blend science with experience and logic to come up with a profile, an interpretation, an answer.

It is great to watch Holmes and Watson. Indeed, the reader becomes a detective as well, as we interpret their interpretations and early impressions of each other. It is an impressive stylistic technique. ... the author introduces and writes about his main characters who learn about and investigate the world around them. While these events are occurring other detectives are interpreting both their world and the crime that has occurred. All of these layers are topped with the story's readers who also must interpret each of the above layers. A Sherlock Holmes story is never very elementary.


message 6: by Veronique (new)

Veronique I love the Sherlock Holmes stories and have read all of them through the years. Great questions :0)

1. I would say yes but then some aspects of Doyle can also be in Holmes and the other characters.

2. Sherlock is fascinating but also quite obnoxious and therefore I don't think readers would have liked to be in his head. Not only this but if Doyle had used this point of view, there would have been much less mystery and suspense. Finally, Watson, apart from being a much nicer and likeable personality, stands for the reader puzzled at Sherlock's deductions.

3. Haven't read article yet but yes it would fit very well. I wonder if Sherlock is also bipolar with his wild and rapid changes of temperament, from very busy to doing nothing.

4. Again not read yet. Didn't other people start forensics before? However with these stories, people would have expected these feats of detection to be possible in real life.

5. I wonder if Sherlock needed Watson as a mirror, to confirm his existence. In the text, he preens at Watson's compliments. Like Deborah said, they are not friends yet but I guess Sherlock can appreciate that Watson is intelligent enough, with his medical knowledge and soldier experience, to follow him and put him in valour. Apart from him, he would have no one to tell (no fun then) :0)


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Deborah wrote: In order to catch a murderer, you needed an actual witness to the crime. ."

Are you sure about this? I think of Crippen, for example, who was hanged for murdering his wife even though there were no witnesses to the crime. Or Smith, the "brides in the bath" murderer, who was also executed even though there were no witnesses to his crimes. These were about the same time as Doyle was writing.


message 8: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1995 comments Mod
I don't have enough background in the history of criminology. I do know that when we read Lady Audley's Secret, Robert Audley seemed to base his entire "case" on circumstantial evidence... However, he did not seem intent on taking anyone to trial.


message 9: by Peter (new)

Peter Rose wrote: "Hi, everyone!

This week's reading is about: Chapters 1-4.

We'll talk also about some aspects that involve the book.

1. Conan Doyle was a doctor as well as Watson. Do you think there is something..."


Hi Rose

I just read your link to Holmes possibly having Asperger's. Thank you. There is no question that Doyle, as a doctor, would have some working knowledge of Asperger's. The question of whether Doyle grafted any the characteristics onto Holmes gives us much to contemplate which is always a fun activity.


message 10: by Peter (new)

Peter Holmes and Watson. The principal and the recorder/sidekick. This is such a great combination used by countless writers. Since Doyle is so early in the detective fiction genre I wonder if he was the first to successfully master the tradition.


message 11: by Alicatte (new)

Alicatte | 17 comments Dr. Watson is the witness to the story, and so are we. He is a stand-in for the reader. If Sherlock told the story, there would be no mystery!

Sherlock and Dr. Watson. Yes, I wonder: if Sherlock is on the Autism spectrum, why does he have some a connection with Watson? Sherlock seems playful with the Doctor.


message 12: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments Everyman wrote: "Deborah wrote: In order to catch a murderer, you needed an actual witness to the crime. ."

Are you sure about this? I think of Crippen, for example, who was hanged for murdering his wife even thou..."


There had to be a way to directly relate the crime to the murderer. I'm not well read on the two you mentioned, although I have a book on Crippen, in my tbr pile.


message 13: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Troyer | 16 comments Alicatte wrote: "Dr. Watson is the witness to the story, and so are we. He is a stand-in for the reader. If Sherlock told the story, there would be no mystery!

Sherlock and Dr. Watson. Yes, I wonder: if Sherlock i..."


I'm autistic and I have friends and a sense of humor! Did you know there are actually quite a few autistic stand-up comedians? The friendlessness and lack of humor is a stereotype based on the fact that we're generally nerdy, have trouble socially, which leads to bullying and other bad experiences as kids, and have difficulty understanding some types of popular humor, such as slapstick and humor based on tone of voice.

I don't think Holmes had bipolar. Jeremy Brett did, and brought this to his interpretation, which influenced our popular view. The reason I think he didn't is because of what I learned while my mother and I were seeing if I have bipolar. The high and low swings can be very random in bipolar. However, the swings both Holmes and I have are high when doing something interesting but low when tired or bored. This points more towards ADHD and dysthymia (persistent low-level depression). These are both very common with people on the spectrum, while bipolar is less so.


message 14: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Troyer | 16 comments So, I have a few rules about using Christian names and surnames:
Holmes and Watson for canon
Sherlock and John for BBC series
Sherlock and Watson for Elementary

Anyone interested in a longer discussion in the reason those names are memorable, their meanings, and why Doyle chose them? We could have had Sherrinford Hope and Dr. Ormond Sacker, and I think we would not remember the stories today with those names. The names are a critical part of the stories' popularity.


message 15: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Troyer | 16 comments Deborah wrote: "I read a lot of Doyle as a teenager. It's truly nice to revisit him. Doyle wrote between patients because he was bored. Little did he know how long lasting the love of Sherlock would be.

While She..."


Have you seen the Russian adaptation? Watson trying to figure out Holmes is hilarious!


message 16: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Troyer | 16 comments Veronique wrote: "I love the Sherlock Holmes stories and have read all of them through the years. Great questions :0)

1. I would say yes but then some aspects of Doyle can also be in Holmes and the other characters..."


#4 Yes, modern forensics was in its infancy at the time. Particularly in France, personal measurements were being used to identify criminals. What the stories did was popularize forensics. People found a scientific approach much more interesting than door-to-door questioning. Did you know Doyle may have been the first to use the idea of unique fingerprints in a mystery story? Don't quote me on this, but at the time people were just discovering and theorizing, through developments in microscopes, the idea that all fingerprints are unique, but it had not often been applied to criminal investigation.

#5 Yes!!! Without Watson it would have been easy to get lost in his own world, forget to eat, have an irregular sleep schedule, be rude, etc. Watson also served as a receptacle for infodumping. This is what I am doing now: it's when an autistic person shares a lot of information about what they know all at once. It's easier than the normal give-and-take of regular conversation, and it's fun to share what we're passionate about with others!


message 17: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Troyer | 16 comments Everyman wrote: "Deborah wrote: In order to catch a murderer, you needed an actual witness to the crime. ."

Are you sure about this? I think of Crippen, for example, who was hanged for murdering his wife even thou..."


Were these based on character witnesses, then, or rudimentary forensics?


message 18: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Megan - do as much infodumping as you want :0)

Your comments on autism and bipolar were very interesting. Humour is one hard thing to get anyway, and even worse in another culture/language.

Don't know much about the history of forensics but it would be great to find out. I think fingerprints were discovered in the 19th century but not exactly when, and quite a few other things too. I think the problem wasn't so much the discovery but rather the use of these in the day-to-day policework. Need to read the link provided.

I agree it is great to find someone with the same interests/passions. I must admit I can go a bit crazy too, going from shy silent one to unstoppable babblebox lol


message 19: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Troyer | 16 comments Veronique wrote: "Megan - do as much infodumping as you want :0)

Your comments on autism and bipolar were very interesting. Humour is one hard thing to get anyway, and even worse in another culture/language.

Don..."


Yes, exactly. The theory and science was there, but it wasn't popular yet. The police still used traditional methods. Due to forensic stories, started by various authors including Poe, the public basically collectively said "Hey, why don't we do it like this?" There's an anecdote about SH stories being used as textbooks in Egypt because they were easier to get than actual forensics treatises.
And yes yes yes the swinging between silent and motormouth! Note Holmes doesn't say short conversational pieces so much as lectures at length. Once he starts talking, he usually talks for two whole pages, and then is nearly silent the rest of the story. Once I picked up on the pattern it got very funny, like "*sigh* here we go again."


message 20: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments Megan wrote: "Alicatte wrote: "Dr. Watson is the witness to the story, and so are we. He is a stand-in for the reader. If Sherlock told the story, there would be no mystery!

Sherlock and Dr. Watson. Yes, I wond..."


Thank you for sharing this personal and important insight


message 21: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments Megan wrote: "Deborah wrote: "I read a lot of Doyle as a teenager. It's truly nice to revisit him. Doyle wrote between patients because he was bored. Little did he know how long lasting the love of Sherlock woul..."

I haven't. I believe I am much older than you. I loved the Basil Rathbone series, and the Jeremy Brett. I also enjoy the new Sherlock on pbs


message 22: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Megan wrote: "Were these based on character witnesses, then, or rudimentary forensics? "

Well, you can read all about it here.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawley_...

Pretty sketchy physical evidence, IMO. And recent evidence makes the case perhaps even more dubious (the body parts they found in the cellar seemingly weren't of his wife, and apparently may actually have been of a man.)

Interesting case. The point here being the amount of evidence, or lack of it, considered sufficient at the time to hang a man.


message 23: by Peter (new)

Peter Everyman wrote: "Megan wrote: "Were these based on character witnesses, then, or rudimentary forensics? "

Well, you can read all about it here.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawley_...

Pretty sketchy p..."


Thanks for the information, Everyman. I was unaware that Crippen was ever (albeit very briefly) in Canada.


message 24: by Peter (new)

Peter Megan wrote: "So, I have a few rules about using Christian names and surnames:
Holmes and Watson for canon
Sherlock and John for BBC series
Sherlock and Watson for Elementary

Anyone interested in a longer discu..."


I would be very happy to learn more about the interplay and extended meaning of names.


message 25: by Rose (new)

Rose Rocha dos Santos (roserocha) | 33 comments Peter wrote: "I would be very happy to learn more about the interplay and extended meaning of names. "

Me too! :)


message 26: by Teddy (new)

Teddy Troyer | 16 comments Okay, here goes:

The names Sherlock Holmes and John Watson went through many iterations before arriving at their current, including Sherrinford Hope and Ormond Sacker. Doyle decided to give Watson an average name, while Hope was used for a character in STUD. (It's used to humanize him - I'd say more but spoilers!) Watson was also the last name of a friend of Doyle's, who used his own and his friend's characteristics to create the doctor.

At the time Sherlock was an old-fashioned but not unheard-of name, rather like naming your child Laban or Mabel today. It means fair-haired or curly-haired, and we know Holmes was not the former, and apart from Cumberbatch's edition, probably not the latter. So, why this name? Well, Sherlock was the last name of a violinist, Alfred Sherlock, or it may have come from Sherwin and Shacklock, cricket players. (Doyle was a sports enthusiast.)

Holmes was then added as a nice cozy English name, like his older brother Mycroft's name, meaning "my farm."

Ignore BBC, Sherlock is NOT a girl's name, and William Sherlock Scott Holmes comes from W.S. Gilbert's fictional biography of the detective. He vainly stuck a bit of his own name in, and a lot of the biography has been incorporated into adaptations, despite such nonsense as Holmes' true purpose for visiting Tibet and the Dalai Lama to be investigating the abominable snowman!


message 27: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments Megan wrote: "Okay, here goes:

The names Sherlock Holmes and John Watson went through many iterations before arriving at their current, including Sherrinford Hope and Ormond Sacker. Doyle decided to give Watson..."



Great info


message 28: by Janice (new)

Janice | 37 comments Thanks Megan for the background on the names! Very interesting.


message 29: by Michaela (new)

Michaela | 241 comments Thanks for all the info, esp. about the names!


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