Friday, April 22, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Sherlock Holmes Book of Quotations

Want to know what Sherlock Holmes had to say about his "art," his knowledge, cases, rivals, philosophy, music, crime and the Fair Sex? Of course you do. This slim hardcover volume, published back in 1980 as an entry in The Sherlock Holmes Reference Series by Gaslight Publications, makes it easy.

And that's not all. Another section is devoted to the words of Dr. Watson, and several more pages list the best quotes by third party characters. I read the book straight through, and though I've read the complete canon at least a couple of times, there were many quotes I'd forgotten. All were interesting or illuminating.

And while this book makes good reading just for the heck of it, if you happen to be writing (as am I) a novel about a guy convinced he's the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes, it's dang near invaluable.

An example of Holmes on his "art":
      "Circumstantial evidence is occasionally very convincing, as when you find a trout in the milk, to quote Thoreau's example."

On his knowledge:
     "What the deuce is it [the Solar System] to me? . . . You say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or my work."

On his cases:
     "There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you."

On his personal habits:
     "I never remember being tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely."

On his "Boswell":
     "I must admit, Watson, that you have some power of selection, which atones for much which I deplore in your narratives. Your fatal habit of looking at everything from the point of view of a story instead of a scientific exercise has ruined what might have been an instructive and even classical series of demonstrations. You slur over the work of utmost finesse and delicacy, in order to dwell upon sensational details which may excite, but cannot possibly instruct, the reader."

Finally, here's a sample from the section called "Sherlocution":
     "You then went to the vicarage, waited outside it for some time, and finally returned to your cottage."
     "How do you know that?"
     "I followed you."
     "I saw no one."
     "That is what you may expect to see when I follow you."
Holmes and Doctor Leon Sterndale

More Forgotten Books at pattinase!


Deka Black said...

Curious book indeed! The last quote is the typical example of "Oh"

Anonymous said...

I saw this one once in the remainder section at a Borders and failed to buy it. I've often wished I'd made a different choice that day.

George said...

I wonder if Art Scott has a copy of this.

J F Norris said...

Have you used any of these quotes in your Skyler Hobbs tales? Wonder if the author is a Baker Street Irregular. Seems exactly the kind of book that would come from them.

Evan Lewis said...

I'm not using direct quotes, John, but I am trying to reflect the essence of Holmes' attitudes regarding a variety of subjects.

Yvette said...

I have a very similar book: The Quotable Sherlock Holmes including the Original Strand Magazine Illustrations by Sidney Paget. By John H. Watson, M.D. With an introduction by John H. Watson III Assisted by Gerard Van Der Leun. It was published in 2000 by Mysterious Press. I love this sort of thing.

Evan Lewis said...

John H. Watson III. Wow, a man of royal blood.

Yvette said...

So it would appear. ;)