Sunday, February 21, 2010

A bizarre romp through history

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels about Sherlock Holmes, the consulting detective of the late 19th and early 20th century. Literary historians refer to this comparatively small corpus as the "canon". Sherlock Holmes so captured the popular imagination with his talent for observation, power of reasoning, eccentric lifestyle and memorable turns of phrase that readers have regarded him as a real person rather than a fictional character.

For many, 221 B Baker Street in London, Holmes’ address, remains a shrine. Conan Doyle died in 1930 but Sherlock Holmes and his friend, companion and "Boswell" Dr John H. Watson have lived on. In 1893, as we all know Conan Doyle himself tried to kill off the Great Detective in the short story The Adventure of the Final Problem but had to bring him back to life. And there has been no looking back since. Eighty years after Conan Doyle’s death, the intellectual superman that he created continues to flourish and the non-canonical Sherlock Holmes stories far exceed the literary output of his creator. Not only books, but films, television serials, radio plays and video games have featured Holmes and Watson.

One of the finest works of fiction from the non-canonical stable is by the Tibetan scholar, Jamyang Norbu, The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, published in India in 1999. And now we have Holmes of the Raj by Vithal Rajan. Sadly, it is a let down.

Full report here Asian Age

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