Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Did Sherlock Holmes evolve or was he created?

When it comes to Sherlock Holmes, I am a creationist.

The rest of you monkeys may need to impress me a little more to gain a similar respect, but regarding Sherlock Holmes, I prefer to ignore what the intellectual elitists among us say. Those theories that he evolved from medical instructor Joe Bell? Well, they're theoretical.

And that "Sherrinford Holmes" missing link you hear about from time to time? The Piltdown Man of Sherlockian study, of course. But instead of bone fragments, "Sherrinford Holmes" would appear to have been constructed from name fragments of existing Holmes siblings, if the rumors one hears quietly spread about the Sherlockian black market of ideas are correct.

And the thought that the primordial ooze of previous detective fiction in any way was a part of how Sherlock Holmes came to be? Holmes himself addresses that thought:

"No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin, Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine."

And Dupin isn't even a real detective. He's a solver of monkey crimes.

Are you going to try to tell me that Sherlock Holmes, the Master of Detectives, came from a solver of monkey crimes? Don't give me any of that "Creeping Man" horsefeathers -- Professor Presbury was a human peeping tom who had delusions of monkey crime, not a true orangutan.

Yes, yes, I know that there are those of you who want to take the middle ground -- and say that Sherlock Holmes's creator used a sort of evolution to create the Master Detective. There are even those who say that Sherlock Holmes has continued to evolve (or devolve in the case of a certain CBS production) to this very day. 

But really look at Sherlock Holmes. His beautifully detailed personality. His highly complex vocational structure. The entangled growth of his relationship with John H. Watson. Only a miracle of creation could explain such a wonder. To say that marvel was slowly built by human brain cells over a progression of time . . . it insults the true genius of his creator, from whose divine inspiration Sherlock sprang fully-grown into the pages of Beeton's Christmas Annual. (And don't talk to me about typesetting and printing presses! Sprang full-grown!)

Now, you're probably going to ask, "Does this mean that Sherlock Holmes and the dinosaurs of The Lost World co-existed in Conan Doyle's brain at one time?" And my answer?

YES! Imagine that wonderful planet that was Conan Doyle's mind in the early 1880s, where Holmes, Challenger, Gerard, and all those other marvelous folk all lived together with pterodactyls and demon-hounds just waiting to be released. If I could build a museum with full-sized dioramas of that amazing place, I surely would.

Does that mean I am too fanatical about our friend Sherlock Holmes? Do we need William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow to come out of necrotirement and argue the case? Or, better still, Augusto Barelli and John Hebron? Hmm, I suppose that didn't settle things the first time . . . maybe we'd best not leave it to the lawyers!

So, non-lawyer Sherlockians, present your best case for a Sherlock Holmes made by evolution and I might be persuaded, devout believer in Sherlock Holmes creationsim that I apparently am. But don't get your hopes up . . . anyone who has blogged about Holmes this much must surely be an unredeemable fanatic.


  1. I can't imagine why you think Sherlock Holmes was created by Dr. Watson's literary agent, fully-grown or otherwise. He was created the same way you and I were created, as difficult as that is to imagine. Because he's reticent about the details of his childhood and so forth doesn't mean it didn't exist. Did he not tell Watson that he came of country squires on the father's side and French artists on the mother's? As far as I'm aware, only one person has sprung into the world full-grown, and she, Athena, was mythological. Surely you're not claiming that Holmes is myth?