Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Good-bye, Mr. Holmes? Not so fast.

"The Final Problem"

"The Dying Detective"

"His Last Bow"

The Last Sherlock Holmes Story

Exit Sherlock Holmes

Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?

A person might think somebody didn't like Sherlock Holmes, looking at all the titles with his name in them across the years. It starts with Conan Doyle, and we know that he had issues with Sherlock. Above are just the ones I could think of off the top of me head, but given more research and more years of pastiche, I'm sure we'll eventually get to every combination of death-departure-end-finish-final-done Sherlock title there can possibly be.

Endings are dramatic. Death is a big finish (or start, which is why we have more murder mystery stories than just plain mysteries). And tragedy is one of the two faces of that symbol of the dramatic arts, taken from the muses Thalia and Melpomene.

It's said that tragedies end in death and comedies end in a marriage, and it's interesting to see the balance of those elements in Holmes's cases. A Study in Scarlet originates in a marriage that ends in deaths, The Sign of the Four starts in deaths and ends with a prospective marriage. Lovers run off together at the end of a few of Holmes's cases. And sometimes clients die at the end of Holmes's cases.

So when do we start seeing the other side of titles for Holmes stories? Oh, wait . . . we have.

"His Last Vow," anyone?

"The Sign of Three"?

The Marriage of Mary Russell. (To you-know-who.)

With Sherlock Holmes, it seems, we're always going to get a little of both. And personally, I think I like the latter theme a little better, as unromantic as Sherlock himself wanted detection to be.

Will the pendulum continue to swing both ways? Of course! The ability to handle both comedy and tragedy is part of what makes Sherlock Holmes such a great character . . . and as long as he is that great, we'll surely keep seeing both sides of that dramatic coin.

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