The Autumn 2019 Baker Street Journal includes these articles:
The Editor’s Gas-Lamp.
The Diogenes Club: The Case for the Junior Carlton Club
by Seth Alexander Thévoz.
Sherlock Holmes and the English Opium Eater
by Nick Louras.
Canary-Training in the Nineteenth Century
by Marc Kaufman.
The Dead Man’s Chest: Treasure Island and The Sign of the Four
by Daniel L. Friedman and Eugene B. Friedman.
Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Welles
by Dan Andriacco.
The New Strand, 1961–1963: A Brave Attempt
by Nicholas Utechin.
Art in the Blood
by Scott Bond.
The Commonplace Book.
Baker Street Inventory.
Letters to Baker Street.
* * *
The Editor’s Gas-Lamp
“Mad about the boy”
by Steven Rothman, Editor
It is in vogue to argue that John Watson, not Sherlock Holmes, is the center of the Canon—not just because he narrates all but a very few of them, but also because he is the emotional heart as opposed to Holmes’s brain. We feel we know Watson, since none of us could—as much as we might wish—truly claim to be Sherlock Holmes. Watson needs explanations; Watson falls in love; Watson errs; Watson, in brief, is human, a trait Holmes rarely demonstrates.
Undoubtedly the core of Sherlockian scholarship is that Watson makes mistakes. How else do we explain the many inconsistencies in the text, up to and including the man’s wife apparently not knowing his name and Watson himself not knowing where he was wounded by that painful jezail bullet? We require Watson to be a man of errors. We know we cannot trust him, and yet we have no choice. Watson is our source for everything we know not just about him but also about Holmes. Yet how much can we trust a man who doesn’t know what part of his body was shot?
We know that Watson is a great friend, a “trusted comrade”; he tells us that Holmes says so. However, in those stories apparently narrated by Holmes (or perhaps written in an experimental voice by Watson), the praise seems a bit sparser: “Watson has some remarkable characteristics of his own.” That is dry even by Holmes’s standards.
“Good old Watson” may be an excellent biographer and an unreliable narrator, but he is among the most reliable of men. Without him we would never have known of Sherlock Holmes. And so we not only respect him, we love him.
The Editor’s Gas-Lamp, Autumn 2019, Vol. 69, No. 3.
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