Sunday, May 20

Lest We Forget About Sherlock Holmes

In December 1893, The Strand announced the sudden death of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so tired of Holmes, had chosen the glorious Reichenbach Falls of the northern Swiss Alps as a worthy resting place, and accordingly ended his life there in The Adventure of the Final Problem.  

Twenty thousand Londoners cancelled their subscription to The Strand magazine and hundreds made a public display of their mourning by wearing black armbands.

Conan Doyle imagined Holmes was "destined to be quickly forgotten".  He could never have foreseen how important the one man would become both in the history of literature and in the hearts of millions of readers over three centuries.  

Today, I re-watched the final episode of Sherlock Season Two.  It portrays The Final Problem and ends with Holmes' 'death'.  I was shocked at the emotion it carried for me, even the second time round.  It was so sickening, so burning and searing, stomach tightening, full of hot tears flowing over a quivering face wet against my hand.  It is so rare that things hurt so much.  And they hurt so much because you really care, and really love.  

Towards the end of Conan Doyle's life, he brooded a sickly aversion to Holmes.  A good half of the stories he wrote of him were written with distaste and regret, and yet, I have never become conscious of any feeling against him in the writing.  

Sherlock Holmes did not live again after Doyle's attempt to finish them.  To Conan Doyle, he died at Reichenbach - a character lost to the rushing torrents of literature.  His resurrection, performed superficially by Conan Doyle's hand, was made real by the passion of the people who read it.  Sherlock Holmes does not live because Conan Doyle continued writing.  He lives because readers continued loving.  It is a truth that dictates the classics, the characters that new generations learn about.  He is immortal, until the last person on earth forgets.  


  1. This is such a moving post. I have myself marvelled at the thought of a writer like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so completely at mercy of his creation, forced to bring him back from the dead. I imagine he must have been unpleasantly surprised by the popularity of the character.

    And today, more than a century later, there's that brilliant series making us relive it all, so vividly and viscerally. I couldn't help weeping with John when Sherlock fell. And being absolutely delighted, when John asks Sherlock to not be dead, standing near his grave while Sherlock watches on, apparently having complied.

    And I think I can guess at the kind of emotion all those men and women must have experienced when the character returned after The Final Problem. Like John, they had wished him back to life. :)

  2. Thankyou for summing those feelings up so beautifully. It's breathtaking, incredible, how us as readers keep the people we love alive. The analogy is so poignant that I feel I need to cry over that scene again!


Please leave a comment to respond to my post or start a new conversation about whatever it is that you're passionate about.

If you don't have a Blogger or Google account, you can always leave an anonymous comment. Thankyou for taking the time!