Books for the Reading: The Complete Sherlock Holmes

by Lynn Wienck, The Chisholm Trail Bookstore

Autumn, with cool mornings, is a welcome respite from Oklahoma summer heat. It feels autumnal, somehow, although the tree leaves have not yet turned to vibrant red shades.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), begun last spring, and on summer hiatus, has commenced again. I read this book comprised of four novels and 56 stories many, many, many years past and now from the same book, I am reading them again. The book is a shade worn, and the dust jacket much tattered and barely survives. For all the book’s shabby appearance, it is much treasured, and I wouldn’t exchange it for any other volume; it is my book. Of the tales themselves, I didn’t remember them, but I remembered the sense of them, with the air of old-world about them and a grace to the words. I wasn’t disappointed on reading them again; they were both fresh and familiar.

In the tales, British detective, Sherlock Holmes (using critical analysis), and with the assistance of his partner, Dr. Watson, solved numerous and intriguing cases. Mr. Holmes was portrayed as cold and cerebral; Dr. Watson as warmer and more congenial. Although all the tales are remarkably similar in tone, the first Sherlock Holmes tale was published in 1887 and the last in 1927 – a span of not quite 40 years. I am sure there are those who insist that Sherlock Holmes; and his partner and chronicler, Dr. Watson, were actual people, and that Sherlock Holmes did indeed live at 221B Baker Street.

Since that time, there have been numerous variations, updates, and modifications upon the Sherlock Holmes themes. However, the original stories remain better than the changes since that time. There is no improving the original tales.

My battered, personal volume of The Complete Sherlock Holmes will continue to remain greatly cherished. So, it’s time to finish the last of the tales for a second time, reflect on the past, and greet the future. Sherlock Holmes has returned, at least for me, and so has autumn.

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