Monday, 15 March 2010

A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Long ago when I was a wee little tyke, I read A Study in Scarlet. It was my fist introduction into Victorian England and I’m afraid it didn’t make a good impression. I found it dark, dirty and rather repugnant in general. In the meantime, I’ve learned to love Victorian literature, but I think I have to admit that my first impression of Victorian England was probably more accurate than the romantic view of it I have today. Fascination goes a long way when overlooking the negative points in the past.

Rereading A Study in Scarlet was interesting from that point of view. I still found it quite a dark book with its description of lodgings that are less than elegant and people who are less than savoury. However, my imagination is now more prepared to clean up the picture Doyle draws and make the setting more palatable. Concentrating less on the setting allowed me to concentrate more on the story this time around and I have to say, it wasn’t very pretty. Holmes’ bit of detection work was a fascinating as ever, but the perpetrator’s tale of how motive evolved felt evil, all the more so because, from what I’ve read and heard from others, much of that particular setting was true. On the one hand, I can’t really say much without giving the plot away and on the other, I don’t want to get involved in any religious/historical discussions or to offend anyone with my opinion.

So, that all being about as clear as mud, I liked the book, although it wasn’t a particularly pleasant read. I find Doyle often dwelled on the less pleasant side of humanity and used it to underline Holmes’ brilliance as a detective, while making his own social statements without actually preaching. I give it 4 out of 5 for being a cleverly woven story.

No comments: