Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Monsignor Ronald Knox died on this day in 1957. From his classic 1912 essay, Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes:

There is a special kind of epigram, known as the Sherlockismus, of which the indefatigable Ratzegger has collected no less than one hundred and seventy-three instances. The following may serve as examples:

‘Let me call your attention to the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.’
‘The dog did nothing at all in the night-time.’
‘That was the curious incident,’ said Sherlock Holmes.

And again:

‘I was following you, of course.’
‘Following me? I saw nobody.’
‘That is what you must expect to see when I am following you,’ said Sherlock Holmes.

This is the essay that is usually credited with initiating the "Grand Game," by which one conducts scholarly investigations on the Sherlock Holmes stories on the assumption that Watson and Holmes were real people.

His A Spiritual Aeneid, his account of how he became Catholic, is also worth reading.


  1. Michael Sullivan9:55 PM

    Knox's writings on Holmes are fantastic, as are his similar satires, such as his historico-critical deconstruction of Boswell's Life of Johnson or his advertisement for a church bazaar in the form of a scholastic quaestio.

    Knox wrote many wonderfully literary and Catholic books. Enthusiasm is entertaining, full of interesting trains of thought, funny asides, fascinating little details; Barchester Pilgrimage is a lovely little book - I can't say how delighted I was to discover it soon after having read all of Trollope's Barchester novels. Knox's book is a kind of sequel in the Trollopean style showing what happened to the descendants of Trollope's characters, with points scored for the Church and against encroaching modernity along the way. My own favorite of his books is Let Don's Delight, a series of dialogues taking place every fifty years from just after the Reformation to just before WWII between professors in the same fictional Oxford common room, each written in the language of its own period. It's a work of amazing skill and also makes good arguments.

    I've also read all of his sermon collections with benefit and enjoyment. I began rereading The Belief of Catholics earlier this year but didn't finish it, concluding that it was unfortunately a little overrated. I never read the Spiritual Aeneid. We also shouldn't forget his well-regarded translation of the whole of the Vulgate, which is hard to find and which I haven't seen.

    Anyway I join you in honoring him on the day of his transitus.

  2. Michael Sullivan11:14 PM

    Ugh, I don't know how that stray apostrophe got into "Dons". It's staring at me now until I lower my eyes in shame.

  3. Leo Carton Mollica10:06 PM

    Thanks for the many recommendations!  It turns out that Let Dons Delight is available from the I-Share interlibrary loan system in Illinois; perhaps I'll check it out once able.


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