Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Watching the Detective
Sherlock Holmes lives on—in fan societies, annotated versions, and new adventures
From the Village Voice

"...In 1933, Christopher Morley started the Baker Street Irregulars, the first society devoted to the scholarly study of the canon. You may well be aware of it, but did you know that it's one of over 400 active Sherlockian associations? (Scion societies, they're called, and some of them seem to be narrow offshoots indeed. The Companions of Jefferson Hope, headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, is composed of Sherlockians who have had aortic aneurysms. Both the Blanched Soldiers of NOAH and the Sir James Saunders Society are made up of Sherlockian dermatologists. His Last Miaow brings together Sherlockians "who have lived with cats.")

One needn't search for a reason why enthusiasts of any stripe would band together to share their enthusiasm. That noted, it may be said of the Irregulars and its scion societies that their être is possessed of a singular raison. Members prioritize the voluntary suspension of disbelief upon which the enjoyment of fiction is predicated. As far as they're concerned, Holmes and Watson were real people, and the sacred canon consists of Watson's actual reports. Yes, Sir Arthur's name appears as a byline, but he was at once a trusted friend and literary agent, and may indeed have done some editorial tinkering. And either he or Watson has done some fictionalizing, changing names and addresses and disguising circumstances, but surely much of the truth can be ferreted out by painstaking scholarship..."