Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Arthur's choice.

Would Conan Doyle have decided not to be Watson's literary agent, had he been able to see everything the future held?

As a response to losing one of its earlier court battles, the Doyle Estate, Ltd. had said the court's decision "reduces the incentive for authors to create great literature by cutting short the value of copyrights protecting two of the world's great characters." And while I doubt most writers are really thinking or caring about what will take place eighty-four years after their deaths when they decide to create, Conan Doyle's long, and not always happy, relationship with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson bears considering.

I mean, how would he have taken the latest news that an entity bearing his name was having to pay Les Klinger over $30,000 in legal fees for what a judge now calls "disreputable business practice -- a form of extortion"?

Probably not well. And we know well that Doyle would have much preferred fame for his historical works over his casework of Sherlock Holmes. But if you were to show all of what came after to a young Arthur Conan Doyle and go "Would you rather have your place in literary history ensured with Mr. Sherlock Holmes or take your chances without him and possibly be remembered only as an obscure sci-fi writer?" Would Doyle be willing to roll those dice?

He might, having been given the knowledge that he could be successful in one field, which could bolster his confidence in taking a different route. But presented with the dollar figures that would enable him to do so many other things in life: the travel, the spiritualism endeavors, and all the other perks that come with certain fame and fortune, it might be a tough gamble to take. Conan Doyle was a mere man, after all, and knew how hard that hard times could be.

And as much as he was irritated by Sherlock Holmes on occasion, when showed the pure joy that his friends Holmes and Watson have brought to humanity over the last century, how hard-hearted would he have had to be to take all that away?

More hard-hearted than the Conan Doyle we know of. And he'd probably be at least a little amused at the thought of all those lively young ladies getting their pictures taken next to his cut-out at some of the cons these days. For his legacy is a lot more than courtroom battles.

In the end, the question might not be the choice Doyle would make when shown the future of Holmes and Watson, but whether or not he'd believe a word of it.

It's been one crazy ride, and it just keeps going.

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