The View from Sherlock Peoria
Out of Bounds
A point of interest came up during a little Facebook chat this week, regarding matters of pastiche. There was some discussion of the mistakes careless writers make in not adhering to the details Watson set forth in the original sixty tales. Call it incompetence or call it disrespect, there is no great love of such sloppiness in Sherlock circles, as we have all seen it done far too many times, once we've read enough of the post-Conan-Doyle Holmes.
And there's no excuse really. I mean, everything ever written in the original Canon of Holmes can be found in a single book. Four novels and sixty short stories. Compared to the amount of time it takes to actually write a novel, reading that little bit is a fairly involved weekend's reading.
Of course, the arrogant writer is apt to think his or her view of Holmes supersedes those dusty old originals. Or perhaps they aren't bright enough to handle the old-style prose, which should disqualify them from writing of a genius, in any case.
The thing of it is, I'm fairly convinced that there is no rule in writing about Sherlock Holmes that can't be broken. No detail that can't be changed. However, it's a bit like playing golf. Hitting the ball out of bounds into the rough is disaster for a bad golfer, but for a truly skilled player? One shot out of bounds is no big thing.
As long as the writer respects his readers enough to make Sherlock Holmes recognizable and give his variance a solid footing, be it as a logical alternate reality, or a worthwhile exploration of a concept requiring the change. Perhaps the ultimate proof of this is the BBC modern day Sherlock . . . setting Sherlock Holmes in the modern day, which, done wrongly, breaks all the rules, has captured the character as well as any Victorian version ever did.
That, of course, should never be seen as encourage those to arrogant of un-bright to do it properly . . . though it probably will.
Your humble correspondent,
Past 2012 Columns