AitB Forums 221B Baker Street A Study in Scarlet 2015 Read-Along Section 1 (Chapters 1-3)

This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Vidocq 1 year, 11 months ago.

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  • #1055
    Scotland Yard
    Scotland Yard
    Keymaster

    Please discuss!

  • #1133

    Vidocq
    Participant

    I started reading the first three chapters. Anybody else noticed that Watson’s narration was very slow and stuffy at first but then it changed gears abruptly to a fast pace once Holmes entered the picture? At first I couldn’t recognize Watson’s voice, but once he got to meet Holmes it was like meeting an old pal.

    Also, this very controversial line: . “I keep a bull pup,” I said, “and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy. I have another set of vices when I’m well, but those are the principal ones at present.” I remembered back in H.net someone (can’t remember who) interpreted it as Watson warning Holmes of both his gun and possible PTSD. I had a nice belly laugh.

    And this: Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.

    Do you think this was deliberate foreshadowing? I know ACD has a reputation of not giving much of a damn about Holmes but this was his first novel (if I remember correctly) and he was young and hopeful and probably very excited with Holmes and Watson.

    Also I see a lot of character work for Watson and character descriptions for Holmes, right now he feels more of a protagonist than he ever was in any of the next 59 stories.

    You can read my movie reviews in spanish at SofaPerdido.net

    • #1134
      Le Chat Noir
      Le Chat Noir
      Moderator

      Anybody else noticed that Watson’s narration was very slow and stuffy at first but then it changed gears abruptly to a fast pace once Holmes entered the picture?

      I think that’s a great observation. There definitely seems to be a energy that is lacking as Waston describes his time in Afghanistan and his injuries/ crud recovery. You’d think all of that would be bursting with excitement and verve, but it really isn’t. It’s all passive voice and passive-aggressive. I’m not being super judgy about this, though, because this opening is when I totally fell for the good doctor. I appreciate his negativity! I guess it makes the dramatic turnaround later (as you identify) so satisfying. Holmes gives this poor bastard a reason to get up and move his tush.

      Also, this very controversial line: “I keep a bull pup,” I said, “and I object to rows because my nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy.”

      So first, I don’t remember the HN comment, but I appreciate it! Setting aside the bull pup bit for a second, I immediately focus on the “extremely lazy” comment. That seems totally inconsistent to me, I think. I don’t associate Watson with laziness. He seems like a pretty active guy. I mean, he’s not kicking back on the settee every day, eating truffles and getting chocolate on the nice wallpaper. So then I’m thinking Watson is either exaggerating his current sedentary life style to keep his potential flatmate off his back, or he’s not particularly self-aware, or he’s a dirty liar. I’m going to go with exaggerator / less-than-optimal self assessment. I don’t think he’s lazy as much as he’s recovering from a gross injury (to some part of his body) and a wicked case of enteric (typhoid) fever (also gross). Thus, slack should be cut, Doctor!

      But of course, some of my favorite bits are the classic Watson sass-mouth: “… I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.” Oh Watson, please, don’t hold back — tell us how you really feel!

      And I actually like how tactile Holmes is when he first meets Watson, getting all hand-shake-y and grabby hands. Maybe this is just run-off from his excitement of his experiment (*coughnerdcough*) but I’d love to think he’s also responding in an energetic way to a kindred, or appreciative, soul. I don’t know about you, but when Holmes says, “Let us have some fresh blood,” I kind of worried about Watson’s fingers for a second. It was such a nice gesture on Holmes’ part to go digging into his own digits instead of his new buddy’s.

      Also, here seems to begin the hand porn, though not in the traditional way: “He held out his hand as he spoke, and I noticed that it was all mottled over with similar pieces of plaster, and discolored with strong acids.” Sounds … attractive, but I think Watson’s all over it, like white on rice.

      One of the most significant moments for me is Holmes’ accounting of his “shortcomings,” when he says “I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days on End. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone, and I’ll soon be right.” That just breaks my heart a little. I really dislike 21st century armchair diagnoses where someone proclaims exactly what ACD intended with respect to mental health, but that’s such a weirdly cheerful description of depression that it kills me softly.

      Do you think this was deliberate foreshadowing? I know ACD has a reputation of not giving much of a damn about Holmes but this was his first novel (if I remember correctly) and he was young and hopeful and probably very excited with Holmes and Watson.

      You know, I tend to be very skeptical, especially about ACD and his fidelity to his own details (bless his heart, of course), so I want to scoff and say, “Oh piff, it’s a throwaway line that tells more about Watson than it does about Holmes,” but honestly, I would love it if ACD really did make an attempt at continuity here. I don’t think he deliberately planned this out in a real sense of foreshadowing, but I could be persuaded to think that he did say, “Ooooh, yeah, so I’m writing SCAN (or something) and Holmes is totally huffing some glue or coke or smack. I’m gonna throw that in here now.” The key for me about this line, though, is “I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.”

      Now, I appreciate the concept that drug addicts can be clean and not look like a walking (lying down?) cliche, but Watson’s also suggesting for me that Holmes is functioning just swimmingly (when he’s not in the dumps, bless his soul). And the over-arching bit for me is that Holmes is. not. an. addict. Whatever he does recreationally, he’s not letting it impede upon or cramp his consulting style.

      BUT:
      I AM NOT ADVOCATING RECREATIONAL DRUG USE.

      Back to the discussion: This is why I think I get aggravated with works that take Holmes’ drug use and turn it up to 11. Yes, shooting coke isn’t a healthy hobby, and I’m sure Holmes wasn’t leading the healthiest life, and Watson doesn’t like him drugging himself to the gills, but I don’t think Watson ever, ever, EVAR comments that Holmes didn’t take a case because he was on a wicked bender.

      /end rant

      Also I see a lot of character work for Watson and character descriptions for Holmes, right now he feels more of a protagonist than he ever was in any of the next 59 stories.

      When you write “he,” you mean Watson, right? I think I agree with you. Watson really is driving this hansom cab in these early chapters. I think that’s why I have such affection for (the first part) of STUD: Watson’s all over the shop, Holmes is super bouncy, blood is crazy, life is bonkers! As I said, I love Watson’s sass and his passive-aggressive defensiveness: “You might think I’m a nosy jackass, but I’m just fascinated by this bizarre dork I live with. That’s why I’m writing down every little thing he does, including telling you all about his nose and his SENSITIVE HANDS, but it’s not like I like him or anything. He’s weird and he’s kind of dumb about a lot of stuff that I learned in primary school, and he writes dumb articles so there, suck on that haters.”

      And frankly, ACD’s sass charms me: When Holmes goes off like fireworks over being compared to a fictional detective, it’s just too precious for words.

      Okay, whew, more later. 😀

      “Oh, you can't help that," said the cat. "We're all mad here.”

  • #1186

    NoirAlice
    Participant

    Anybody else noticed that Watson’s narration was very slow and stuffy at first but then it changed gears abruptly to a fast pace once Holmes entered the picture?

    I think that’s a great observation. There definitely seems to be a energy that is lacking as Waston describes his time in Afghanistan and his injuries/ crud recovery. You’d think all of that would be bursting with excitement and verve, but it really isn’t. It’s all passive voice and passive-aggressive. I’m not being super judgy about this, though, because this opening is when I totally fell for the good doctor. I appreciate his negativity! I guess it makes the dramatic turnaround later (as you identify) so satisfying. Holmes gives this poor bastard a reason to get up and move his tush.

    I know I haven’t been able to read along with you guys, but I thought this was some interesting discussion going on here! I love STUD! ^_^ It is one of my faves! Anyway, I wanted to say that this is a really good point! I never noticed that before, and I think that is really interesting. I think La Chat Noir put it really well, haha. Which, this makes me think of Elementary. Of how Joan was introduced to us in the Pilot episode with her just going through life’s motions and not really having any aim (after giving up her Doctor career), and then when she meets Holmes, finds purpose again. I think that is a really interesting juxtaposition of STUD and Elementary that I never noticed before!

    Also I see a lot of character work for Watson and character descriptions for Holmes, right now he feels more of a protagonist than he ever was in any of the next 59 stories.

    When you write “he,” you mean Watson, right? I think I agree with you. Watson really is driving this hansom cab in these early chapters. I think that’s why I have such affection for (the first part) of STUD: Watson’s all over the shop, Holmes is super bouncy, blood is crazy, life is bonkers! As I said, I love Watson’s sass and his passive-aggressive defensiveness: “You might think I’m a nosy jackass, but I’m just fascinated by this bizarre dork I live with. That’s why I’m writing down every little thing he does, including telling you all about his nose and his SENSITIVE HANDS, but it’s not like I like him or anything. He’s weird and he’s kind of dumb about a lot of stuff that I learned in primary school, and he writes dumb articles so there, suck on that haters.”

    Haha! Chat, your descriptions/summaries of things are always awesome! 😉 Hilarious! I think that perfectly describes the first part of STUD. Haha. I, too, have a lot of affection for Holmes/Watson in this section because there is so much CHARACTER stuff. Canon Doyle doesn’t always give us a lot of this sort of exchange between the two of them, and so, probably, as Vidocq mentioned, in the early days of optimism and excitment, Doyle really takes it up a notch for this first novel. And I can definitely agree with you, Vidocq, about Watson feeling more like a protagonist in this novel. I think it is the same for the Sign of the Four too. We get a little more of Watson’s point of view and feelings about things than we get in most of the canon. I also love that Watson has more sass and that he had skepticism of Holmes at first. My favorite moment is when he just goes off on Holmes’ article without realizing Holmes had written it. Haha! I love unadulterated Watson opinions! And then Holmes’ coolly self-confident, adroit answer to the practicality of his theories! Haha. Amazing. And it is a rare exchange, since Watson, in canon, seldomly contradicts or expresses an opposing/negative opinion to and/or about Holmes. You know, I’ve always wanted an adaptation of Study in Scarlett SO. BAD. I wanted to see someone show the start of their friendship! I understand why no one really has wanted to touch the material, considering the subject matter and the way the story is told, but I think that is such a shame. There is SO MUCH going on here in this first part, so much crucial character material for Holmes and Watson. Who doesn’t want to see sassy Watson and bouncy Holmes? Aww. Oh well. Maybe one day . . .

    Back to the discussion: This is why I think I get aggravated with works that take Holmes’ drug use and turn it up to 11. Yes, shooting coke isn’t a healthy hobby, and I’m sure Holmes wasn’t leading the healthiest life, and Watson doesn’t like him drugging himself to the gills, but I don’t think Watson ever, ever, EVAR comments that Holmes didn’t take a case because he was on a wicked bender.

    Haha. Tell us how you really feel. 😉 I can understand that. I think this aspect of the canon is overplayed because our society is so very sensitive about drug use, and they think it makes for some good drama. Though, I actually really like where Elementary has taken it (*twitch* season 3 finale *twitch*), but there are moments, yeah, where it can aggravate me a little on the over emphasis. I mean it seems like murder can be taken rather lightly, a kind of dark, macabre humorous overtone to some of the Elementary episodes, but drugs. No, drugs are ALWAYS. SERIOUS. So whereas it doesn’t bother me too much really, I can understand your feelings on the matter.

    "I'm afraid I can't explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?"

    • #1187
      Le Chat Noir
      Le Chat Noir
      Moderator

      I know I haven’t been able to read along with you guys, but I thought this was some interesting discussion going on here!

      This is why message boards are so nice – you don’t have to exactly in time with discussions. You can jump in whenever you’re ready!

      this makes me think of Elementary. Of how Joan was introduced to us in the Pilot episode with her just going through life’s motions and not really having any aim (after giving up her Doctor career), and then when she meets Holmes, finds purpose again. I think that is a really interesting juxtaposition of STUD and Elementary that I never noticed before!

      I completely agree with this observation. I think that’s the root, or the nugget of truth, that should exist for all Watsons: They are uncomfortable in their skins, living hollowed-out existences, before they meet their Holmeses. Well, Dawson from Great Mouse Detective wasn’t down and out in the gutter, and I still love him, so my theory is obviously malleable!

      Haha! Chat, your descriptions/summaries of things are always awesome!

      My blushes. Thank you. 🙂

      My favorite moment is when he just goes off on Holmes’ article without realizing Holmes had written it. Haha! I love unadulterated Watson opinions! And then Holmes’ coolly self-confident, adroit answer to the practicality of his theories!

      That is comedy gold!

      I understand why no one really has wanted to touch the material, considering the subject matter and the way the story is told, but I think that is such a shame. There is SO MUCH going on here in this first part, so much crucial character material for Holmes and Watson. Who doesn’t want to see sassy Watson and bouncy Holmes? Aww. Oh well. Maybe one day . . .

      I totally appreciate this. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how any contemporary filmmaker could deal with the Mormon section. Or even the dastardly Mormon elements in Part 1. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, but I can’t imagine it.

      I mean it seems like murder can be taken rather lightly, a kind of dark, macabre humorous overtone to some of the Elementary episodes, but drugs. No, drugs are ALWAYS. SERIOUS.

      That’s one hell of a good point, right there. Now I really need to think long, deep thoughts about this. But it’s totally true.

      “Oh, you can't help that," said the cat. "We're all mad here.”

  • #1192

    Vidocq
    Participant

    I know I haven’t been able to read along with you guys, but I thought this was some interesting discussion going on here!

    This is why message boards are so nice – you don’t have to exactly in time with discussions. You can jump in whenever you’re ready!

    this makes me think of Elementary. Of how Joan was introduced to us in the Pilot episode with her just going through life’s motions and not really having any aim (after giving up her Doctor career), and then when she meets Holmes, finds purpose again. I think that is a really interesting juxtaposition of STUD and Elementary that I never noticed before!

    I completely agree with this observation. I think that’s the root, or the nugget of truth, that should exist for all Watsons: They are uncomfortable in their skins, living hollowed-out existences, before they meet their Holmeses. Well, Dawson from Great Mouse Detective wasn’t down and out in the gutter, and I still love him, so my theory is obviously malleable!

    It really reads like a different character. I know it’s fanboyish but I have a very clear voice for Watson in my mind and in the first few pages it seemed like a stereotypical british character, rather than just Watson. The change from old victorian novel to a Sherlock Holmes novel happens when they meet and it really is satysfying. The same thing happened in the russian tv series and in Sherlock. Watson just looks like hell and here comes a magic man to break him out of his victorian funk.

    My favorite moment is when he just goes off on Holmes’ article without realizing Holmes had written it. Haha! I love unadulterated Watson opinions! And then Holmes’ coolly self-confident, adroit answer to the practicality of his theories!

    That is comedy gold!

    It also provides a great moment of skepticism on Watson’s part, other lesser writers would have the sidekick as being filled with admiration for this man only to reveal that it was his roommate all along, in here Watson fights Holmes assertions all the way to a crime scene, being more interested in the truth than in the social awkwardness of fighting the roommate he just got and who he desperately needs to pay rent. I think Holmes appreciated that, as a man who daily puts the truth over social conventions.

    I understand why no one really has wanted to touch the material, considering the subject matter and the way the story is told, but I think that is such a shame. There is SO MUCH going on here in this first part, so much crucial character material for Holmes and Watson. Who doesn’t want to see sassy Watson and bouncy Holmes? Aww. Oh well. Maybe one day . . .

    I totally appreciate this. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how any contemporary filmmaker could deal with the Mormon section. Or even the dastardly Mormon elements in Part 1. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, but I can’t imagine it.

    Yeah, I can’t see it done either, it wasn’t even PC back then, ACD even apologised for it, and that was before mass comunications, much less the internet. As a side note, kudos to ACD for apologising to them and not to the KKK who also wanted one over Orange Pips. The man really knew how to pick his battles.

    You can read my movie reviews in spanish at SofaPerdido.net

  • #1193

    Vidocq
    Participant

    Whoa. those are some really big quotes I added there…

    You can read my movie reviews in spanish at SofaPerdido.net

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