I was going to start talking about The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by saying that it was good bedtime reading for when one is vibrating with stress and going crazy because one is overworked. And it is. However, while I am still (presently) overworked, I really don’t care today, because
I passed the bar exam!
*bounces up and down some more*
(I’ve been doing that all day, off and on. I found out this morning, waiting for the elevators at work; one opened up and disgorged a bunch of my co-workers going off to Special Term (court, that is). One of them said “congratulations”; I said, “what—wait—no, I don’t believe you.” He told me they were online and went off to court, and I waited for the next elevator (having missed theirs in my bogglement) and checked for myself. It’s not that I thought he was lying to me, but I couldn’t believe it until I saw for myself.)
Anyway, back to booklogging. By coincidence, the first story in Memoirs is possibly the work of fiction most often cited in legal documents. I speak, of course, of “The Adventure of Silver Blaze” and the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. (Not only does it get cited all the time, but I could swear that I once read a judge’s opinion that chided people for thinking that the dog in question was the eponymous Hound of the Baskervilles. However, a quick Lexis search doesn’t seem to turn it up.) It’s a pretty good story, though I have my doubts about just how anonymous a horse like Silver Blaze could be made to be. (Speaking of citing, I’m not really clear why it’s usually cited as just “Silver Blaze”; my edition is a facsimile reprint of its first publication in The Strand, and the title there is “The Adventure of.”)
I’d like “The Adventure of the Yellow Face” considerably better if it didn’t have such a completely idiotic premise. It’s included as an example of Holmes being just dead wrong, and that’s lovely. However, the “right” conclusion is so factually absurd that he probably couldn’t have figured it out regardless, which does detract from the effect. As a general matter, though, I find it vastly amusing when Holmes refers to Watson’s printed reports, complaining that he gives the wrong impression to his readers and so on. It’s a level of self-referential irony that I hadn’t expected to find in these.
Of course, I do get the sense that Doyle was just making it up as he went along. For instance, in “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter,” suddenly Holmes sprouts a brother—not even an estranged brother, but one who refers cases to him occasionally. And then there’s Professor Moriarty, who, I suspect, was created just to give Doyle a chance to kill Holmes off. That’s a pity, because I think more Moriarty stories would have been entertaining (after all, the Zeck sequence in the Nero Wolfe books is, and Zeck certainly owes a lot to Moriarty).
Those quibbles aside, these were useful and enjoyable ways to unwind for the evening. Now, I must go and think about what restaurant to choose for tomorrow night’s celebration.