Thursday, September 29, 2016

One more look at young Trevor.

With all the work going into turning male friendships into love affairs these days, the original facts can, perhaps, become a bit hazy if too long is spent away from the original source material.

So when the subject of Victor Trevor of "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" came up recently, I felt a definite need to go back and re-read the tale just to see if I had missed any obvious clues to a gay relationship Sherlock Holmes had during his college days.

The tale starts simply enough, with Holmes teasing Watson with some papers from a past case.

"This is the message which struck Justice of the Peace Trevor dead with horror when he read it."

He and Watson speak quite a bit about Justice of the Peace Trevor's death before the fact that the man had a son comes up. No "this is the note that struck Victor Trevor's father dead with horror." It isn't until Holmes settles in to tell the full tale, end-to-end, that the younger Trevor comes up, and even then it's more as just a device to get to the focus of the case more than a focus of Holmes's attention.

In fact, once Holmes gets from Trevor junior to Trevor senior, Sherlock is all about the judge with the interesting past: "The father interested me extremely." The fact that the elder Trevor had gained so much education from non-traditional sources, and was in the occupation of trying and sentencing criminal cases . . . there was a lot for Sherlock Holmes to gain from the father, enough that one has to wonder if J.P. Trevor was the reason Holmes accepted the invitation to begin with.

Like many another client from his cases, Holmes seems to be done with Victor Trevor once the mystery is solved and his college friend heartbroken at the hidden criminal past that put him at the station in life he was at. Trevor seemed to not really care to go back to London and carry on his friendship with Holmes after the business of his father's death was done, either.

One can play double-entendre games with "Gloria Scott" all day.

"Why should I study this case?" "Because it was the first in which I was ever engaged."

(Some have tried to engage Holmes to Victor Trevor's diptheria-victim sister.)

Victor "was a hearty, full-blooded fellow, full of spirits . . ."

(Another college boy drinks his way through higher education.)

"You remember my case . . . you remember something queer about it?"

(Perhaps not the first thing you want to hear the giant criminal in the next cell whispering to you.)

But in the end, the details of "Gloria Scott" don't seem to raise any special nostalgia in Sherlock Holmes, in the original Victorian account. What happened with Victor Trevor and the Sherlock Holmes who lived next to Speedy's Cafe in modern Britain, however, well, that is a tale that has a little more room for extrapolation, interpretation, and general modern fanfic myth-making.

Which seems to be happening quite a bit since 2010, enough to make one start having the occasional doubts about the originals. One more excuse to go back for another read, though, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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