I cheated a little.
#4 challenge was “A book with a color in the title”.
Whilst searching for such a book, I wanted something kind of short, frankly. We’re so busy in the garden that I’ve gone into REM before I can get in my usual bedtime reading, but I’m determined to complete this challenge. When I came across “A Study in Scarlet”, 108 pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I was delighted. I had read several Sherlock Holmes mysteries, but not this one, and it just so happened to be the First! To top it off as an inspired choice,
#5 on the challenge is “A book that’s more than 100 years old”, so I get a twofer…
Plus, I love detective stories starring old-fashioned sleuths like Nero Wolfe, Hercule Poirot, and, of course, Sherlock Holmes. Holmes has been the most portrayed fictional character in film history: 75 actors have played him in 211 movies. Having seen many of those movies before I read the books, I pictured him as Basil Rathbone, a fella who never did much for me, so I judged them a little stuffy. It wasn’t until Benedict Cumberbatch and the excellent BBC series “Sherlock” that I picked up a collection and, envisioning Cumberbatch, fell in love with Sir A.C. Doyle’s cerebral detective.
A Study in Scarlet (1888)
Ward, Lock & Co. published the first separate book edition of A Study in Scarlet in July 1888. This small and fragile 7×5 inch book had paper covers glued to the spine and included six line drawings for the story by Charles Doyle, the author’s father. Shown here is the rare first impression. A second impression, issued in March 1889, came with a slightly different cover.
A Study in Scarlet, 1888, First British Edition.
Lent by Dr. Constantine Rossakis.
Photo © Private Library of Constantine Rossakis, M.D.
(from the website http://www.bestofsherlock.com)
Can you imagine a time when Sherlock Holmes hadn’t been created? Detective fiction started with the 1841 publication of Poe’s “Murder in the Rue Morgue”, featuring the brilliant and eccentric C. Auguste Dupin. There were some others following, but it’s intriguing to imagine what an impact this story made to our reading world.
Part one of this very first Sherlock Holmes story is subtitled
Being a reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army Medical Department.
Watson is a British surgeon whose health was ruined in one of those unending wars in Afghanistan. He’s drifting around, lost and depressed. He needs a flatmate, as does Holmes, and they are brought together by a mutual friend. From the first, Sherlock is already Sherlock, seeing clues and putting them together instinctively to Wow the room with his brilliant deductions. Watson is amazed at his jaw-dropping genius. It all goes along and Sherlock solves the crime…but…Suddenly, you are in Part Two, subtitled
The Country of the Saints
This is a totally different book full of Mormons and frontiersmen and no Sherlock. I almost thought that there had been a problem with the printing and another book had been mistakenly placed there, but I kept reading. I was transported to another time, another place. Somehow everything ended up coming together and this story is as riveting as the happenings on Baker St.
You ought to read it. It’s great. And it took me a lot less time to read than it did to write this post. I actually finished it up last week and am now working on
#6 of the challenge…A Book you chose for the cover…
I’m reading “Lincoln in the Bardo” because its cover said “Lincoln in the Bardo” and that is a book I want to read…
I’ll tell you all about it later…
One thought on “Reading Challenge: Nos. 4 & 5”
Love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Great choice.