Home > 19th Century, Abandoned books, British Literature, Classics, Conan Doyle Arthur, Crime Fiction, Short Stories > The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories published in 1892. I have read the five first ones and was so disappointed that I decided to stop reading it. I’m not abandoning it since I have it on my kindle and intend to read the other short stories at lost moments. It is a perfect distraction for a doctor or dentist waiting room, as it doesn’t require a lot of attention – I know, this isn’t the least positive. I’m not going to describe the plot of the different stories, it would be tedious and pointless.

Why such a disappointment? The first problem is in the pattern of the texts. Arthur Conan Doyle loses a lot of time in describing Watson’s fascination for Sherlock Holmes’ deducting skills and gives us useless contextual details about the cases. In other words, the introduction is too long compared to the length of the stories. That bothered me. I read this and I’m thinking “get to the point, please!”. Crime short stories should have a brief introduction, start the plot as soon as possible, develop it with striking synthetic sentences and bring smoothly the solution of the mystery.

 I was dissatisfied with the abrupt end of the first story A Scandal in Bohemia. The introduction led me to imagining a longer story and all of a sudden, it ends. Sherlock Holmes loses against Irene Adler and doesn’t fight back. But at least, this one gives hints on Holmes’ temper and mad observation skills. 

The worse occurred when I guessed what had happened in the third story, A Case of Identity. That really irritated me. When I read whodunit crime fiction, I want to be carried away, led in wrong directions and be astonished by the denouement. It ruins my pleasure if I figure it out before the last pages. I want Sherlock Holmes to be cleverer than me, or it’s no fun at all.

These are the reasons why I stopped reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, not so adventurous, by the way. The free kindle edition I downloaded doesn’t recognise the “£” sign and the accents in French words used by the author.  So you get a curious “�4’”instead of the “£” or “é”. I didn’t have difficulties to guess the correct words but it hurt the eyes a little.

I had read The Hound of the Baskervilles a long time ago and I remember I liked it. Maybe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was more gifted for novels than for short stories, which are a tricky genre. Though I found the stories a little thin and dull, I intend to find a French version because I know at least two children who may like reading this.

  1. October 1, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I can relate to your experience, and I always found the Holmes/Watson relationship rather irritating to be honest. I expect I’m the minority opinion here as Holmes has his fans. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste.

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    • October 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm

      It was fresh at the time it was published, I’m pretty sure my perception is distorted by the reading of other detective stories written later.

      However, I can’t help thinking Conan Doyle did slapdash work here because the construction of the stories is unbalanced. In the fifth story, the end came abruptly and solved nothing. It was as if the author had been allowed a certain number of words and had run out of them prematurely. Or like a student writing an essay during an exam and running out of time and rushing to write a quick end not to let it unfinished. (I’m not sure I can clearly explain the frustration I felt)

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  2. October 7, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I always rather enjoyed Holmes, but it’s a while since I’ve read any. The structure was always very odd. The first I recall starts off as a Victorian mystery, but soon becomes a sort of Western about evil Mormons (also the theme of Zane Grey’s famous Riders of the Purple Sage). I enjoyed it, but it was a very odd way to put a story together.

    His Brigadier Gerard stories though are I think much better. Those are my favourite works by Conan Doyle. They’re inspired by Baron de Marbot. Gerard is an anti-Holmes in a very different way to Raffles. He’s essentially a complete idiot who generally has no idea what’s going on even when it’s perfectly apparent.

    I’ve read Marbot’s diary and he wasn’t anything like that, but the Gerard stories are still funny as anything.

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    • October 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      Brigadier Gérard ? I looked for it on Wikipedia, that sounds funny. The stereoptype of the smug Frenchman always hitting on women. I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.

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