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What is a famous quote Sherlock Holmes uses in "The Red-Headed League"?

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dancer123 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 9, 2008 at 6:52 AM via web

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What is a famous quote Sherlock Holmes uses in "The Red-Headed League"?

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kurowoofwoof111 | Student , Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted November 9, 2008 at 8:55 AM (Answer #1)

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Many people seem to beleive that Sherlock Holme's most famous line is: "Elementary my dear Watson." In fact the line doesn't appear in the Conan Doyle books, only later in Sherlock Holmes' films.

Here's some of Shelock's most famous quotes, but please look at the references as there are many more.:

  • "London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained."
  • "Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth."
  • "Perhaps when a man has special knowledge and special powers like my own, it rather encourages him to seek a complex explanation when a simpler one is at hand. "
  • "What I know is unofficial; What he knows is official. I have the right to private judgment, but he has none. He must disclose all, or he is a traitor to his service."
  • "Let us hear the suspicions. I will look after the proofs."
  • "It is human to err, and at least no one can accuse you of being a callous criminal. "
  • "For once you have fallen low. Let us see in the future how high you can rise"
  • "If you wish to preserves your incognito, I suggest that you cease to write your name upon the lining of your hat, or else that you turn the crown towards the person whom you are addressing. "
  • "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest. Nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces. "
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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:05 PM (Answer #2)

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When Watson remarks that Holmes is the benefactor of the human race, Holmes replies with a quote.

He shrugged his shoulders. “Well, perhaps, after all, it is of some little use,” he remarked. “ ‘L'homme c'est rien—l'oeuvre c'est tout,' as Gustave Flaubert wrote to George Sand.” (p. 18)

This is a paraphrase of a famous quote in French which basically translates to: The man is nothing, the work is everything.  This quote is intended to demonstrate Holmes’s lack of desire for the spotlight.  Although Holmes is snobbish and conceited, and has a very high opinion of himself, he is not a fame-hog.  In fact, he would much rather let others take the credit if possible.  The puzzle is what matters to him.

My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. These little problems help me to do so. (p. 18)

Thus Holmes solves cases not to be famous or help others, but to avoid being bored.

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