Study Guide

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Analysis

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in BEETON’S CHRISTMAS ANNUAL for 1887. Although Arthur Conan Doyle did not invent the detective story, he brought together themes and conventions that soon defined the form--and invented an indestructible character. Doyle tried to get rid of his “consultant detective” in “The Final Problem,” but popular demand forced him to engineer a resurrection. Holmes could not even be killed by the death of his creator in 1930. He continued to flourish in parodies, imitations, guidebooks, and “biographies” based on the straight-faced pretense that he was a real person rather than a character in fiction.

The fifteen new stories by practicing British and American writers of mystery fiction collected in THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES are an impressive and varied centennial tribute. Some are disciplined reproductions of the original tone and conventions; others update the setting, embroider characters and incidents suggested by Doyle, or use historical hindsight to work in social commentary and real people such as Charlie Chaplin and Lillie Langtry. Michael Harrison superimposes multiple layers of memory in a tale purportedly written by Dr. Watson in 1929; Joyce Harrington provides an affectionate feminist parody; Stephen King gives Watson-- for once--a chance to spot clues missed by the great detective. The stories are artfully sequenced so that readers may well be tempted into further inventions of their own. As an added bonus, the volume reproduces illustrations done by Frederic Dorr Steele (in the United States) and Sidney Paget (in Great Britain) for magazines that printed the original Sherlock Holmes stories.