When an author no longer loves a character

(The World’s Greatest Consulting Detective. Source: Wikimedia)

In my quest to complete my 2013 reading list, I’ve finished another book. This one, The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was a romp, of course, and I raced through it much more quickly than I did the William Bradford history of the Pilgrims that I wrote about last time. Let me say this to the Sherlockians out there: it’s an uneven collection – though generally well written, it’s not hard to see that Conan Doyle’s Holmes work grew increasingly stale. “The Bruce-Partington Plans” is by far the best story in the collection – which includes two stories, “The Story of the Man with the Watches” and “The Story of the Lost Special” in which Holmes appears via some device (such as a letter to a newspaper) as “a well known criminal investigator” -which allows the author to offer Holmes’s explanations without offering us Holmes. That’s how tired of his creation Conan Doyle had become.

Despite Holmes’s incredible popularity (and the attendant riches it meant for him), the author wanted to write about someone else. Artistically, it’s easily understood – if an artist isn’t pursuing new challenges, he/she is stagnating, perhaps even regressing. That way lies madness and, perhaps, financial ruin. Conan Doyle wanted to pursue other writing challenges (the argument over whether he chose a wise path is another that I won’t venture to undertake here). Continue reading