Saturday, February 23, 2013

Arthur Conan Doyle: Wildean humorist

As I mentioned previously, I'm working my way-- on my smart phone-- through the complete collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series. I've finished A Study in Scarlet and am now in the first chapter of The Sign of the Four, which begins by portraying Sherlock Holmes's operatically massive addiction to cocaine. Because this is the post-Civil War late 1800s, Holmes doesn't snort his stash: he injects it in his forearm, heroin-style. Watson, being a medical doctor, strongly disapproves of Holmes's drug addiction, but can't help admiring the man himself. Doyle has a good eye and ear for the sophisticated emotional relationship between the two residents of 221B Baker Street, and it shows in his dialogue.

Here's an exchange that I found funny. Holmes has just wowed Watson-- again-- by deducing that Watson had gone to the post office to receive a telegram. Watson then says:

"Would you think me impertinent if I were to put your theories to a more severe test?"

"On the contrary," [Holmes] answered, "It would prevent me from taking a second dose of cocaine."

Heh. I definitely see where David Shore got his ideas for the Vicodin-addicted Dr. House, a character based almost entirely upon Sherlock Holmes.


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