Sunday, September 27, 2020

Fortnightly Book, September 27

We finally come to the last, and generally least known, Holmes short story collections: His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

His Last Bow contains various miscellaneous stories from different years, combined with a preface from Dr. Watson:

Preface by John H. Watson
The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge
The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
The Adventure of the Red Circle
The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
The Adventure of the Dying Detective
The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
The Adventure of the Devil's Foot
His Last Bow. The War Service of Sherlock Holmes

"The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" was originally published in 1892 and also in The Memoirs (1894), but in later editions of the latter was taken out, with part of its story recycled for "The Adventure of the Resident Patient". It was then published in His Last Bow. British editions have often reverted to the original apportionment, while American editions have usually followed the later practice of giving the story to His Last Bow. Other stories were originally published later, with "His Last Bow" receiving its first publication very shortly before the collection itself was published.

The last collection, published in 1927, has some variation in its title. It was originally published as The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes in the British edition and The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, no hyphen, in the American edition; later publishers often published it as The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, one word, which is how my Wordsworth Edition omnibus has it. All of its stories are from the 1920s.

The Adventure of the Illustrious Client
The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier
The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone
The Adventure of the Three Gables
The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire
The Adventure of the Three Garridebs
The Problem of Thor Bridge
The Adventure of the Creeping Man
The Adventure of the Lion's Mane
The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger
The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place
The Adventure of the Retired Colourman

These are the least-read Holmes stories, in part because they are so late, and in part becase six of them are still in copyright -- until 2022 for "Three Gables", "Blanched Soldier", "Lion's Mane", and "Retired Colourman", and until 2023 for "Veiled Lodger" and "Shoscombe Old Place".

These last collections have short stories that tend to be much more experimental than prior short stories, with deliberate deviations from expected formulas (e.g., "Wisteria Lodge" gives us a police inspector who independently manages to keep up with Holmes, and three of the Case-Book stories are not narrated by Watson), bolder mixing of genres (e.g., "His Last Bow" is an espionage tale, and "Creeping Man" has science fiction elements), and different origins (e.g., "Mazarin Stone" was originally a play that Doyle then turned into a short story).

It's fairly difficult to find easily accessible adaptations of Case-Book stories, but you do occasionally find a few from His Last Bow, so I'll keep an eye out for some of those, if I have the time for them.