Monday, 24 February 2014

The Adventure of Connecting-- A Study in Scarlet, Chapters 1-5 Week 3

By Jarod
In A Study in Scarlet, Watson becomes a very relatable character almost immediately in the story. Someone left to his own devices on his pension, just trying to keep his life as least monotonous as possible. Doyle smartly makes Watson's situation less than desirable, and as he only as his pension to live on, not be able to work with his disability, he finds himself running out of money, and looking to get a roommate to save money on housing, as many people just older than ourselves are forced to do in order to scrape by. Also, with nothing else to entertain himself with, Watson decides to investigate Holmes, wanting to know more about his mysterious roommate. Watson acts as any man would in his situation, trying to slyly inquire into Holmes' field of study as he marvels at Holmes' extraordinary deductive skills.

Holmes also becomes a relatable Character in the story, as he attempts to humbly shrug off Watson's awe of his observations, as any person with extreme talent would, yet still smiles and feels good about himself when Watson is awestruck when he explains his seemingly random theories about the case.

Gregson and Lestrade also have a little competition with each other to out-solve the other, as many workers have with their coworkers, which encourages them to be pushed and find answers as soon as possible. This is shown by the passage "The little man's [Lestrade's] eyes sparkled as he spoke, and he was evidently in a state of suppressed exultation at having scored a point against his colleague." They also are both trying to impress Holmes, though they wouldn't admit it, as students try to impress their teacher when they say with such conviction what they believe the answer to be, though this makes Holmes simply see them as idiots.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Adventure of Discussing-- A Study in Scarlet, Chp. 1-5 Week 3

(by Claire)

Hi! I really enjoyed this week's reading--A Study in Scarlet is one of my favorites. These first five chapters moved really fast-first Watson and Holmes meet, then Watson finds out what Holmes does, and then woosh! he gets dragged along on one of the cases and the fun begins. :) As part of my job, I've prepared three questions--

1. What do you guys think of the meeting between Watson and Holmes? I think its kind of funny; Holmes gets so excited over the test for blood stains, while Watson is completely taken aback and Stamford stands there smiling as if he just caused some kind of great thing to happen and everyone will thank him in the end. Which is close to the truth. (link to video [blogger doesn't like vimeo] from BBC show [yes, I will try to incorporate references into every single post. I would like to show how true to the books it is.])   

2. What do you think about Watson's list, "Sherlock Holmes - his limits"? Any particular favorites? Do you think Sherlock is right about the "wood in the attic" concept--do we really need to save information about things that we will never use? (and, as a bonus, following up on that; do you think core subjects really necessary after you decide on a major/job? And obviously, explain why/why not.)

3. (Page 56/195 on Kindle, I have no idea where this is in a real book) Here we first see Sherlock liking to be flattered. The beginning of his drama queen episodes almost. He says, "You know a conjurer gets no credit when once he has explained his trick, and if I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all." and then later, "My companion flushed up with pleasure at my words, and the earnest way in which I uttered them. I had already observed that he was as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty." Your thoughts on Sherlock's vanity?

Finally, in honor of John coming along on his first case with Sherlock, I present this beautiful .gif (and I downloaded this off my Pinterest, so its all good copyright-wise):


Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Adventure of Connecting, Week 2

Connecting is probably not going to be my great strength. The outside world and fiction are, actually, surprisingly, highly interlockable (fiction does stem from reality, no?). But I will try my best.

In chapter eleven, Doctor Watson mentions a box found in the river Thames. Did you know that a box was, actually, found in the Thames but in 2013? And not the kind of box you would expect- no, it was a post box. I just found that fascinating. Another strange object found in the Thames was a young bottlenose whale. Other strange objects include body parts, a time bomb (this link leads to a top ten list) , a zulu spearhead (another list of artefacts discovered in the Thames) and a prisoner's ball and chain.

In chapter twelve, we also discover the box is empty. Of course, Small has made off with the loot, but a real life example of an empty treasure chest can be found here, after an Indian archaelogy expedition turned up a treasure chest only to reveal it was emptied years previous, under "mysterious" circumstances.

And, of course, everyone can relate to Holmes' plight towards the end as his life-long friend and constant companion leaves him for a woman he has come to love in this short time, leaving Holmes feeling lonely and forgotten (and somewhat indignant). Remember, though, that despite John is leaving with Mary, adventures with the dynamic duo will continue on- they are soulmates, after all (how you take that is up to you). -KATIE

 (picture is a link to OP's DeviantArt)

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Adventure of Discussion -- Chapters 7-12 Sign of Four Week 2

Discussion Questions from "Sign of Four"
By Jarod

In the way that questions go, these chapters gave more answers than provided cause for more. However, a few were raised in my mind while I read, so here is some food for thought.

1.) At the end of chapter 7, Holmes is telling Watson his deduction and reasoning for the case, but when Watson asks of the associate, Holmes simply shrugs the question off, and changes the subject although he already knows. Why do you think he does this, when he later gives Watson the answer in chapter 8?

2.) In chapter 10, Holmes reveals that he had been searching boat repair sheds and yards earlier, in chapter 9. Why would he spend all day doing this himself, possibly giving Small a chance to escape, instead of using the "Baker Street irregulars" to help him search to get the job done more quickly?

3.) Then, in chapter 11, Smith claims that the Aurora is one of the fastest ships on the river, and with another man to help with the engines, they wouldn't  have been caught, and Small no doubt would have mentioned that they chose the Aurora for her speed, why did Smith not mention he may need help, so that another man could be hired and Small could have gotten away?

4.) Later, at the end of chapter 11, Watson delivers the iron chest to Mrs. Morstan, and confesses his love when it is found to be empty. Why is he so relieved when "the golden barrier was gone", when she expressed no interest in the treasure time and time again? I realize that he doesn't want to look like a "vulgar fortune-seeker" but if she clearly doesn't care for money all that much, why does he insist on making such a big deal of it?


The Adventure of More Passages Chp 7-12 The Sign of the Four Week 2

(by Claire)

Here are the passages I made notes on in our final reading of "The Sign of the Four":

(end of Chp. 7) "On the dog raced through sawdust and shavings, down an alley, round a passage, between two wood-piles, and finally, with a triumphant yelp, sprang upon a large barrel which still stood upon the hand-trolley on which it had been brought. With lolling tongue and blinking eyes, Toby stood upon the cask, looking from one to the other of us for some sign of appreciation. The staves of the barrel and the wheels of the trolley were smeared with a dark liquid, and the whole air was heavy with the smell of creasote.
    Sherlock Holmes and I looked blankly at each other, and then burst simultaneously into an uncontrollable fit of laughter."

I like this passage because it is an anti-climactic ending to a very tense chapter. If you remember earlier int he chapter, Toby had been tracing the creasote across London, trying to track the criminal who had accidentally stepped in it. This passage also shows how Holmes and Watson were good friends, and enjoyed their "unusual" business of solving crimes (see picture below for modern day adaptation of laughing at a crime scene)

Giving credit where credit is due:

The next passage I liked was towards the middle of Chapter 8, where Holmes reads the newspaper article. I like this one because it demonstrates how much the Scotland Yard/police force really needs Holmes.

"'About twelve o'clock last night,' said the Standard, 'Mr. Bartholomew Sholto, of Pondicherry Lodge, Upper Norwood, was found dead in his room under circumstances which point to foul play. As far as we can learn, no actual traces of violence were found upon Mr. Sholto's person, but a valuable collection of Indian gems which the deceased gentleman had inherited from his father has been carried off. The discovery was first made by Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, who had called at the house with mr. Thaddeus Sholto, brother of the deceased. By a singular piece of good fortune, Mr. Athelney Jones, the well-known member of the detective police force, happened to be at the Norwood Police Station, and was on the ground within half and hour of the first alarm. His trained and experienced faculties were at once directed towards the detection of the criminals, with the gratifying result that the brother, Thaddeus Sholto, has already been arrested, together with the housekeeper, Mrs. Bernstone, and Indian butler named Lal Rao, and a porter, or gatekeeper, named McMurdo. It is quite certain that the thief or thieves were well acquainted with the house, for Mr. Jones's well-known technical knowledge and his powers of minute observation have enabled him to prove conclusively that the miscreants could not have entered by the door or by the window, but must have made their way across the roof of the building, and so through a trap-door into a room which communicated with that in which the body was found. This fact, which has been very clearly made out, proves conclusively that it was no mere haphazard burglary. the prompt and energetic action of the officers of the law sows the great advantage of the presence on such occasions of a single vigorous and masterful mind. We cannot but think that is supplies an argument to those who would wish to see our detectives more decentralized, and so brought into closer and more effective touch with the cases which it is their duty to investigate.'
   'Isn't it gorgeous!' said Holmes, grinning over his coffee-cup. 'What do you think of it?'"

I like this passage because it shows that Holmes' is at least capable of laughing at something. His pure amusement at the lack of knowledge and experience that the police force has is, in itself, amusing. The passage is also funny because Jones had just mocked Holmes and called him one who jumped to crazy conclusions, etc, when really, Jones is the one who does just that. Irony?! 

Any questions? 


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Adventure Of Discussion (Chapters 1-6) Week 1

This week, our group read the first six chapters of "The Sign of Four", a personal favorite Holmes story of mine as its plot is pertinent to the rest of the series and its size is only comparable to three other Holmes stories as it was published as one of four full Holmes "novels".
Here are some questions that might pique your interest.

1. Doctor Watson's feeling for Miss Morstan are clearly somewhat laced with romantic intentions. How do you think he will react around her in later chapters? Will he be more forward?

2. As an extension of question one, how do you think Mr. Holmes feels about his trusty companion falling for a woman?

3. Why do you think the Sherlock Holmes stories are always told from the perspective of Doctor Watson?

4. Why do you think that Sherlock is so distant from everyone else? This could be taken from your own perceptions of the character and canon, or related to any ideas of his unmentioned past.


Monday, 10 February 2014

The Adventure of Passages--Chapters 1-6 Sign of Four Week 1

Passages from "Sign of Four"
by Jarod

The first six chapters had many interesting passages, but the first I chose is mostly said by Holmes himself:

"'May I ask whether you have any professional inquiry on foot at present?'
'None. Hence the cocaine. I cannot live without brainwork. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window here. Was ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the duncoloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them? Crime is commonplace, existence is commonplace, and no qualities save those which are commonplace have any function upon earth.'"
      I chose this passage because I feel it to be interesting in that Holmes uses his lack of 'professional inquiry' to defend his use of cocaine. this passage also describes how Holmes views the world, as dreary, dismal and unprofitable, and a place where anyone with out of the ordinary powers, such as his own, have no use on earth.

The second passage I chose however, is narration:

"I stooped to the hole and recoiled in horror. Moonlight was streaming into the room, and it was bright with a vague and shifty radiance. Looking straight at me and suspended, as it were, in the air, for all beneath was in shadow, there hung a face - the very face of our companion Thaddeus. There was the same high, shining 
head, the same circular bristle of red hair, the same bloodless countenance. The features were set, however, in a horrible smile, a fixed and unnatural grin, which in that still and moonlit room was more jarring to the nerves than any scowl or contortion. So like was the face to that of our little  friend that I looked round at him to make sure that he was indeed with us. Then I recalled to mind that he had mentioned to us that his brother and he were twins."
      This quote I chose because of how well-written it is, Doyle fully describes the scene in ways which the audience can visualize the murder scene, as if they were peering through the keyhole themselves.

I wondered what the two of you thought of this murder scene passage.

Any Questions?


Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Adventure of Connecting--Chp 1-6 Sign of Four Week 1

Connecting "Sign of the Four" to the Real World
by Claire

This week we read the first 6 chapters of "Sign of the Four".

Hopefully, the story itself is in no way relatable for anyone-- it is filled with death, greed, and crime. However, the characters within the story are relatable in many ways.

The first instance of a relatable character is Holmes himself. Watson describes this relatability within the first few pages of the story, "I had observed a small vanity underlay my companion's quiet and didactic manner." Often times when someone is talented in some way, they politely deny that they are in any way special. Deep down, however, they enjoy the attention to some extent. In fact, all of us, if not most of us, have experienced this. We internally believe we are very good at something--golf, painting, singing, etc. When praised, we are humble, making excuses like, "Oh no, I'm not really that good." and "I have a long way to go before I'm where I would like to be", but we enjoy the spotlight nonetheless. Everyone enjoys being praised, even the mechanical Sherlock Holmes. In Holmes' case, he enjoys Watson's surprise when he correctly deduces something--in fact, Watson even writes that Holmes was "chuckling at my surprise". (In BBC Sherlock's episode, The Sign of Three, this theme of showing off is apparent, see photo below)
Implying that Sherlock keeps all his deductions to himself until the
 "final reveal", just for the sake of showing off and gaining the spotlight.

Another character that was (hopefully) less relatable, but more of a role model, was Mary Morstan. In the reading, Ms. Morstan endures the loss of her father and her inheritance, and is present when a dead man is found in his room, his body stiff, twisted, and contorted by a paralytic poison. Through all of this, Ms. Morstan is shaken, but does not show her fear and is described by Watson as he takes her home: "she had borne trouble with a calm face as long as there was some one weaker than herself to support, and I had found her bright and placid by the side of the frightened housekeeper." (Technically, this description comes in chapter 7, but its within the first few lines, so I'm going to use it). Ms. Morstan is an example of someone who can control themselves and contain their feelings until it is appropriate to express them (she later bursts into tears, again Chp 7), and thus is a good role model for anyone experiencing emotional trauma. 



Wednesday, 5 February 2014


Introductory Post

By :

Hello. Our group (The Baker Street Holmies) consists of Jarod H., Claire N., and Katie V. We are going to read  The Collected Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes- 1. Sign of Four 2. Study In Scarlet 3. His Last Bow  and 4. The Adventures Of Charles Augustus Milverton. We are reading these collected stories purely because we love the Sherlock Holmes stories and their place in literature. The stories are varied in nature and topic and therefore not suitable to be described in a plain overview. Therefore in time we will further elaborate on the individual stories themselves as we read them. We hope to further delve into Conan-Doyle-ian canon and obtain a greater knowledge and understanding of the ostentatious man himself, Sherlock Holmes. Thank you for reading. Enjoy the delightful .gif'ed rendition of the BBC adaption of Sherlock's (mis)adventures' Sherlock.