Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Conan Doyle


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
 
One of my favorite writers about books and reading is MichaelDirda, former book columnist for the Washington Post. Mr. Dirda is an admirer of the work of Arthur Conan Doyle and shares his appreciation for this writer’s stories, characters and life in the recent book On Conan Doyle. This small volume contains a summary of Dirda’s own adventures in reading, highlights of the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, a glimpse into the erudite world of the modern Baker Street Irregulars, and an excellent bibliography.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) is widely known as the creator of the world’s greatest consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his friend and chronicler, Dr John H Watson. Conan Doyle was of the opinion, however, that writing the Holmes stories kept him from working on things of higher value. Michael Dirda notes Conan Doyle’s own choices for his best works: The White Company* and its prequel, Sir Nigel*, which are medieval historical novels; his multivolume history of World War I; and his writings about Spiritualism.

Julian Symons, one of Conan Doyle’s biographers, says “Anybody who wants to approach him as a man of letters should read the Sherlock Holmes stories, the major historical novels, the Brigadier Gerard tales, one of the science fiction novels, and a selection of the short stories.”

As storyteller, sportsman and citizen of the British Empire, Arthur Conan Doyle was a man of his time, who found the attitudes and lifestyles of the post-World War I era not to his liking. Modern times, however, have not diminished our fascination with his iconic characters, Holmes and Watson. The recent movies starring Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law combine the ambience of gaslit London with startling special effects. There are currently two shows on television that bring Holmes and Watson into modern times, one set in London (Sherlock) and one in New York City (Elementary).

Whether you’d like to read (or re-read) the Holmes stories, find out more about the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, or explore how his storytelling has influenced modern writers, the library has a large selection of material to choose from. Some of my favorites are:


                                                                                          *titles available through inter-library loan
Maryellen@Warrenton

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