Monday, April 13, 2009

Holmes' personality and Doyle's way of writing


Monday, April 13, 2009

In the short story, "A Scandal in Bohemia," Sherlock Holmes says, "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data."

That's pure Holmes, of course.

Holmes' personality affects Holmes' method of investigation, but it also affects Doyle's way of writing.

The thing that sets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle off from some of the other writers of his time is his clear, concise style. Contrast what he writes to what Wilkie Collins writes. Collins writes long, beautiful sentences, but they are not always simple or easy to read. Here is a simple Collins sentence from The Woman in White.

"If the machinery of the Law could be depended on to fathom every case of suspicion, and to conduct every process of inquiry, with moderate assistance only from the lubricating influences of oil of gold, the events which fill these pages might have claimed their share of the public attention in a Court of Justice."

But here is Conan Doyle with Holmes speaking:

"I soon found Briony Lodge. It is a bijou villa, with a garden at the back, but built out in front right up to the road, two stories. Chubb lock to the door. Large sitting room on the right side, well furnished, with long windows almost to the floor, and those preposterous English window fasteners which a child could open."

This is a clear, concise description from a person who thinks in a clear, concise way.

Holmes' way of thinking is his weakness, too. In this story, it leads him to lose the day, so to speak, but not in such a way that the whole case is lost.

I'm reading all nine volumes of Sherlock Holmes. I'm on the third right how. It has been years since I've read Sherlock Holmes. I am amazed at how much I like it.


No comments: