Saturday, 22 June 2013

Much Ado About Sherlock Holmes

(Book cover designed by one of my favourite illustrators Joe McLaren)  

I am a huge Sherlock Holmes geek.

I've read all the books – and some fan written ones. I love the TV series' (Sherlock and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes staring Jeremy Brett are my favourites) and the Guy Ritchie movies. I've watched Sherlock listening to just the commentary so many times. I have a toy bear dressed like Sherlock Holmes. My childhood toy was not called Mouse (for he is a mouse) or Tatty or Patch but Moriarty. I've even been to the Sherlock Holmes museum IN Baker Street!

You get the point. I love it. It turns me into a complete dork. Yet what is it about Sherlock Holmes that makes me – and so many others – love it so much?

For me, it's not just about the clever mysteries and the wonderful quotes, though they certainly play a part. For me, at the centre and heart of Sherlock Holmes it's all about the characters and their relationship.

Who doesn't love Holmes and Watson? No, really – if you hate them let me know why because I am convinced no one can dislike these two.

Starting with Sherlock Holmes. Because why on earth do we love this character? He's arrogant, scarily unpredictable, shoots walls when he's bored, closes himself off from humanity for days, is dealing with a drug problem and is just a little bit mean. If you came across someone like this in real life you'd hate them.

So why do we love him? Is it because he's brilliant? Unintentionally characteristic? Because of the deerstalker? Because Benedict Cumberbatch is so gorgeous?

Well, perhaps because he's interesting. He's absolutely fascinating, just as much as one of the mysteries he's running around solving. Sherlock Holmes is one of the most unique characters in fiction. On one side, he is a genius. He's able to tell you everything about a stranger's life in one look, he solves mysteries no one else can, he's the world's only consulting detective! Yet I love the balance, because on the other side he has these horrible flaws.

He's not perfect in any means. He doesn’t even know that the earth goes around the sun, for god's sake!

And we love him for these great big flaws. A perfect character is a boring character. And Sherlock Holmes is, as Spock would say, fascinating.

Watson – well, he's the everyday man. He gives clarity to the story, he's the grounding anchor to this bemusing, brilliant character. If you were dropped into the life of Sherlock Holmes, you'd be the Watson of the story.

Yet Watson is brilliant in his own right too. He's an former solider. He is brave and strong and exactly the person you'd want around in a crisis - or after one, for you certainly wouldn't get comforted by Sherlock Holmes. Watson has buckets full of patience. He's lost without the war and Sherlock Holmes offers him the alternative. For, as it is noted in Sherlock, “When you walk with Sherlock Holmes you see the battle field.”

Their friendship is one of the greatest friendships in history. There is no doubt about it. These two men, who are seemingly such opposites, have a friendship that really starts to define them both. I could go on for days, but I'll leave it for another time. :)

Have you read Sherlock Holmes? Just seen the series? Haven't decided if you want to do either yet? Let me know what you think of it!

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