Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I Hate You, Sherlock Holmes...!

Not often does an author hate his own character so much that he kills that character in one of his stories.

However, that's exactly what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did. He killed off one of the most popular characters in the literary world at the time. Thinking the deed was finally bringing an end to the object of his dislike, Doyle discovered that the public wasn't ready for Sherlock Holmes to disappear just yet.

Sherlock Holmes

Photo credit: Herbert Rose Barraud

If you can only name one 19th-century literary character, it’s probably Sherlock Holmes. The hugely popular detective wowed audiences with his insane adventures and superhuman powers of deduction. Some have even credited the imaginary investigator with bringing the art of forensics to real-world crime fighters. So what could possibly defeat the greatest detective who ever “lived?” His own creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In an odd turn of events for a massively popular author, Doyle absolutely hated Holmes. In fact, it was the character’s popularity that fueled Doyle’s hatred. Desperate for money, a young Doyle wrote fiction to supplement his income, playing with topics like man-eating plants and mummies before finally finding an audience with his detective character, Sherlock Holmes. Despite immediate commercial success, Doyle regarded his work with Holmes as cheap and hacky and preferred instead to work with more historical subjects. The public only wanted Holmes, however, and Doyle found himself growing exhausted by the increasing workload and ever more resentful of the fictitious man whose reputation was overshadowing his own.

So he tried to kill him. In the short story “The Final Problem,” Doyle sent his legendary super-sleuth out in style, throwing both he and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, over a waterfall. Doyle said the decision was an act of self-defense, claiming, “If I had not killed him, he would certainly have killed me.”[1] Despite this passionate hatred, however, Doyle eventually gave in and brought Holmes back from his “faked death.” He continued writing stories he couldn’t stand for the rest of his life.

I, for one, am glad that Sherlock Holmes was brought back to life. I've always enjoyed the character very much, and find the stories about his cases fascinating and a good read. But what do I know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Happy 4TH everyone! Please be safe!


Beth Bailey said...

Interesting. I understand how it might have been exhausting to keep coming up with adventures quickly enough for the fans but I only wish I had a character that could make me the kind of money that Holmes made for him. Alex Cross beware of James Patterson! love you, Bubba.

HermitJim said...

Hey B...
I think he was just bored with the same old character of Holmes. Seems like the more he wrote about him, the harder the plot became.
Thanks for stopping by today, Sis!

Momlady said...

Always marveled at his deductive reasoning. Have a safe 4th.

JO said...

I have read ever one I believe. I used to watch the show on PBS and they took it off and replaced it with a more modern version it didn't last long. And the new movie didn't seem to make it either. Sometimes you just can make something better.

See you on the patio its getting humid out here. We need rain!

linda m said...

Happy Fourth of July! I loved Sherlock Holmes. I had no idea that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hated that character. Wow See you on the patio.

HermitJim said...

Hey Momlady...
It was a sight to behold, wasn't it? Always made such perfect sense when Holmes explained it.
Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Jo...
I've read the books, seen nearly all the movies, have loved them all. I am a true fan of Sherlock Holmes and Doyle.

Hey Linda...
Hard not to like him actually. Sure, he had a big ego, but many smart people do. He got the job done.
Thanks for the visit today!

Hermit's Baby Sis said...

I like Holmes, but I'm more the semi-bumbling Watson, I think. But thanks for the new insight - never knew how Doyle felt about him.
Hope your 4th is quiet. We'll be watching Yankee Doodle Dandy outside with neighbors, then fireworks from across the lake. Hope the mosquitos don't carry us off first!

Big hugs ~