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Sorry this is so early, and I apologize if it ends up odd at all, since as I think I mentioned before I'm resetting my sleep schedule again, so am sleeeepy. And want to get this written up before I get more so.

I also apologize ahead of time if I get too.. trivial or anything. I'm a lifelong (more or less) Holmes fan, so I may be working against pretty much the opposite of the problem I had with I, Robot. I will try not to get too sidetracked.


It's a bit weird to be jumping into this here in some ways, rather than Where It Began, with A Study In Scarlet. But a) the short story format seems to be better suited to our purposes anyhow, and b) the entire second half of that novel bores the living hell out of me anyhow, so.

Ah, good old Irene Adler. The woman. And good old Bohemia, which Wiki Pete reminds me is a part of the Czech Republic, because I really doubt most people would know offhand just exactly where it is these days without checking.

Anyhow, I remembered that we were introduced very early on to Holmes' coldness, and... less than positive outlook toward one-half of the human race, although I'd forgotten we were also introduced this early to his cocaine habit. And it's odd to see cocaine mentioned as causing lethargy, rather than the opposite.

And of course we have the little teasers of other cases that never appeared in detail in any Doyle work, which have served as the basis for fanwankery and pastiches for decades. Thank you, Doyle. Which kinda makes me wonder if there was ever any such thing Back In The Day, although I'd guess not... it just feels like a more modern thing. (Well, especially fanfic, without the internet to spread it.)

It's also a good thing that Holmes *doesn't* tend to hang around women much, if his idea of a greeting to someone is to state practically first thing just how much weight they've gained (and accurately, too).

And of course right off the bat, there is much deduction going on. Because it wouldn't be Holmes without it. I also note that despite the archtypal image of Holmes including his pipe, here instead he's smoking his cigarettes, which seem to my (possibly faulty) memory to be much more common for him, anyhow.

I always hate when they start whipping out the old English coinage... even aside from the whole problem of steep inflation between then and now, I can never keep the different amounts straight, in comparison with, er, normal money. I seem to recall that a guinea was something silly like 21 pounds or thereabouts, but that's about it.

A small touch of the human in Holmes - "I am lost without my Boswell." Aww.

Alright, I'm starting to get bogged down and do the same thing I did with the Zelazny, and recap everything, which isn't really needed when we're reading separate short stories each time, so I'll try to stop that. *ahem*

I do wonder (and have before) Just how much freaking SPACE it would take up to have catalogs of information of, well, everyone and everything that he found written down. A bit unfeasible, surely! Also, was there a "King of Scandinavia" around this point? I mean, I'm pretty sure just the separate countries had their own ruling families...? I'll admit though that history isn't my strongest suit.

"She has the face of the most beautiful of women, and the mind of the most resolute of men." Grr. Oh well, guess we can't expect much else from the Victorian era.

"She was a lovely woman, with a face that a man might die for"? Deciding to keep the sovereign she gave him as a souvenir on his watch-chain? My, how very romantic for a man as unromantic as Holmes.

One thing I'll note, that if you stop to think about it, the abrupt marriage before we barely even get into the story kinda deflates the urgency, you know? I mean, the original idea is that Irene Adler is jealous and will publish the photo and be damned in order to keep the King from marrying his Scandinavian princess, and instead, next thing we know she's getting married to someone else? Yeah, I think SOMEONE has an inflated idea of his own importance.

Always fun to see Holmes and Watson with such high regard for the law that they help on so many occasions. *cough* I'll also note that if Watson was the total bumbler that everyone seems to want to portray him as nowadays, Holmes would *never* entrust him with tasks of any such importance in his investigations. But don't get me started on that.

Leaving aside the whole "it's a woman's nature to be secretive" blah blah, the whole fire thing is a pretty nifty trick for revealing a hiding place. Although I do think that Holmes falls down on the job just leaving it there, since it's got to be pretty obvious that the "fire" was staged for some reason. I mean, smoke just doesn't come out of nowhere, with hand cries of "Fire!," and the remains of the smoke rocket should be visible, yes?

It's pretty interesting that although Holmes has a general reputation as someone who can't be outwitted, and can deduce anything, the very first of the Holmes short stories involves him getting trounced. Although he at least does some good work before that. But still!

Anyhow, I'm... well, at a bit of a loss as to what I should comment on to get conversation started. I'm familiar enough with most of the Holmes stories that I don't even remember how to approach them "fresh" anymore, especially when I'm sleepy on top of everything, so... well, bear with me guys. :p

On that note, have at it!


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Comments

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cerebresque
Dec. 2nd, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
I seem to recall that a guinea was something silly like 21 pounds or thereabouts, but that's about it.

21 shillings, that is, or one pound and one shilling, thanks to a rise in the value of gold after it was originally minted to the value of one pound.

(Survived later as money of account, with notional ideas like auctions receiving money in guineas and paying the seller in pounds, the extra shilling representing the auctioneer's commission, etc.)

This discourse brought to you by Slow, Boring Mornings, Inc.
stormfeather
Dec. 2nd, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
Oooh, right, see, I was even off on the one I vaguely remembered. (I remembered it had something to do with pounds, but I was thinking it was made up of pounds, instead it was the fact that a guinea mostly equals a pound, plus a tidbit.)

I did think those were some awfully damn expensive horses.
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stormfeather
Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
Agreed, on pretty much all of it! I can somewhat see the Irene Adler love, since she's built up in the story as beautiful, smart, daring, etc... and she does carry it all off with style at least. But yeah, her actual feat of intelligence that's the basis of the ending of the story itself isn't all that impressive.

And yeah, also not enough of an expert on the Victorian era to figure out why the photo is all that horrible. Although from the way the princess is presented (what very little we hear about her), it sounds like she may be just even more sheltered than typical, and be expecting unreasonable levels of chastity from her groom-to-be.

Ah, also now that I glance back through (not that I should have to at this point!), while the photo might not be indecent, it's hard to tell what's in the letters he wrote, and it sounds like it might be the letters that are the big problem, and the photograph that's mainly the major proof Irene has that they were on such a footing, and that the letters she were to produce would most likely be genuine. (Although then all the talk immediately switches to the photograph itself rather than the letters so... I don't know!)
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stormfeather
Dec. 3rd, 2009 01:47 am (UTC)
Hrm, this is true.

As unsatisfying as it is in some ways, this may just have to fall back to the "Doyle sucks at planning everything in his stories other than the main focus" standby, which becomes oh so very prevalent in some of the other stories.
crouchback
Dec. 3rd, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
As Holmes points out, everything but the photograph can be plausibly denied. Get rid of the photograph, and the rest of Adler's story can be blown off.
crouchback
Dec. 3rd, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)
Male royals and nobles were not expected to be chaste, but they were expected to be discreet. Leaving around incriminating letters and photographs with their paramours was a big no-no.

Think of it as a shame society type of thing. Princesses, queens, and other female aristos do not lose face just because their husbands are out sowing wild oats, but they do lose face if it becomes obvious to society at large that their husbands frequent brothels.

The concept of being married to a fellow who can't hid the evidence of his dalliance with an adventuress or courtesan would have been a major face-loser.

"I see Lady Barfing-on-the-Thames has married Graf Kotzen-am-Rhein."

"She married him? Even though everyone knows he heads off each weekend to the brothel on Cleveland Street? Well, I always thought she was a bit of a fool."

"Quite."

"10 guineas says she gets poxy by Christmas."





Edited at 2009-12-03 11:45 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
crouchback
Dec. 3rd, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)
She does more than see through Holmes' plan: she shows skills at disguise that fool Holmes, who is an expert on that subject.
khedron
Dec. 7th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Irene Adler: This may be a problem with Doyle telling us how cool someone is, rather than showing us? Holmes goes about and does his research, and comes back with tales of her wit & beauty which we hear second-hand.

I don't know whether it's because it was such a short story, or because she gets the better of him in the end, but I was willing to accept that. That's not always the case; there've been books I just couldn't manage because there were characters that were supposed to be awesome that never were.

Also, as far as fanon goes, maybe the important thing is that they spend so much of the story playing up how impressed Holmes is. What else matters?
crouchback
Dec. 3rd, 2009 11:27 am (UTC)
Bohemia at the time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

There wasn't a "Scandinavia," but Sweden and Norway were united, and would be that way until 1905.

The use of "Bohemia" and "Scandinavia" is a way to put context in the story for readers and to kind of refer to certain events without irritating powerful people too much. British readers were quite familiar with the concept of a prince from a Germanic dynasty tomcatting around and endangering his marriage prospects, since that happened to some of the Hanoverians and was rumored to have happened to some of the members of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (aka the Windsors.).
stormfeather
Dec. 3rd, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
Yay, I'm glad someone knows more about the actual historical bits than I do. ;) Thanks!

And yeah, I did kinda figure that Doyle was being deliberately vague so as to not actually appear to be naming any actual names, but I didn't know if the characters were pulled out of thin air, or were vaguely patterned after real people, with just enough plausible deniability slathered on top.
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