Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The politics were there . . .

Sherlockiana sometimes seems like its own little island, far from the coast of mainstream human interactions, where Sherlockians can sit back with their figurative tropical umbrella drinks and relax and enjoy the sunshine that radiates from the master detective.

That's not true at all, of course, as current events, trends, and even our latest adaptations, born of current culture, have always affected us very deeply from our earliest writers on. Yet Sherlockiana has, until now, not really had its "kneeling during the national anthem moment," when fans of football started decrying that politics had entered their get-away-from-it-all hobby.

The Baker Street Babes tweeted a link to an essay involving the #MeToo movement by one of our current literary lights, Lyndsay Faye, this week that moves us in that direction. Whether or not it catches fire well enough to become a point of contention in our ranks has yet to be seen. Sherlockiana is a fairly conservative hobby on its elder side, but so liberal on its up-and-coming side that we're probably going to see a few more of these issues come up before things transition to future generations.

An un-named editor of the BSI's manuscript series seems to have rejected a pretty solid essay in its entirety instead of suggesting any tweaks, which says to me that said editor hit one segment of that essay as a roadblock and didn't consider its entirety. That also suggests that the deal-breaker may have been something which disagreed with said editor's worldview.

The point that inevitably comes up in these situations is "Why didn't so-and-so quietly discuss this with so-and-so, instead of making it a public issue? Why bring politics into our hobby?"

Well, politics comes into our hobby all the time, behind the scenes. When editors pick what gets published in journals, when a society head decides who can become a member, when a writer decides what he is going to post in his blog that morning. Which brings in the question: If a political choice is made in the forest where no one can hear it, is it still a political choice?

We usually only hear complaints about such issues becoming public when one disagrees so heartily with said issue that one wants to pretend it doesn't exist. And that mindset isn't good for anyone's future, as one can see playing out real-time in modern America right now.

My friend Rob and I have been having a very interesting discussion on this latest little issue, and a thoughtful discussion is always worth having . . .

Even on our tropical island in the Sherlockian sun.


  1. It was a good essay. It might "date" the collection of essays, but to be honest, so would the copyright page, so I really don't understand why it didn't get accepted.

    There are some very good fanfics that address CHAS out there, but I can't think of one that focuses on the maid. Maybe that will change!

  2. In _Sherlock Holmes Commentary, Dakin suggests that the woman who shoots Milverton infiltrated the household by posing as a maid, and that she escapes by slipping back into that role. There’s a great article by Patricia Dodd Flynn that suggests the murderous “maid” and Agatha are one and the same, and that Agatha was once an actress. (“The Mistress and the Maidservant”, published in Serpentine Muse v. 4 n. 1 (Spring 1978) and reprinted in Serpentine Muse-ings, Vol. 1.)