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This topic contains 11 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Thorneycroft Huxtable 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #670
    Le Chat Noir
    Le Chat Noir
    Moderator

    In honor of our newest member *waves* and since Vidocq said it was a favorite story, I thought we could kick off some scholarly (and decidedly goofy) discussion about the one and only Speckled Band!

    Should we take it line by sassy line? Issue by issue? As in, WTF with fake snake? Was it so hard to open a National Geographic, ACD?

    I just had my classes write a paper on this one. I gave them a choice of prompts: issues of xenophobia or issues of female body commodification/ Victorian marriage. I have to grade them today (ugh), so maybe you all will have insights I can crib in order to shame and humiliate my students and belittle their attempts at literary and social criticism? :mrgreen:

    DISCUSS!

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

  • #795

    Things like the made up snake make me feel like ACD was a lazy writer. I get not caring about the continuity because he felt that Holmes stories were beneath him, but do some research! Once I learned that a carbuncle couldn’t be blue, sloppy mistakes like the swamp adder really started to get to me.

    • #798
      Le Chat Noir
      Le Chat Noir
      Moderator

      I can appreciate that sentiment. I remember being rather let down the first time I read SPEC and found out that there was no swamp adder. My students were rather taken aback too (though some of them still wrote about the snake’s capabilities as if they are scientific fact, so either they weren’t paying attention in class or they didn’t believe me).

      These days, I do find these little tidbits rather charming in a weird way. I definitely think ACD was a flawed author, and maybe it was due to an authorial laziness. Maybe he really just didn’t give two figs about details like “let’s use a REAL type of snake!” But it’s sort of wonderful to me now that everyone gets so amazingly jacked up about the fake snake. Holmes whacking at it in Julia’s bedroom is just golden. I also love all of the un-snakey things Mr. Snake manages to do. He’s a damn magical snake is what he is. Or she. I guess Watson didn’t specify the snake’s sex.

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

      • #803
        ScarletSherlock
        ScarletSherlock
        Moderator

        How much were editors involved in ACD’s time? Stuff like the swamp adder and Watson’s mysterious changing wound should have been caught by SOMEBODY, right?

        "My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don't know." BLUE

        • #811
          Le Chat Noir
          Le Chat Noir
          Moderator

          Honestly, I don’t believe that editors were in any way engaged with the minutia the way that editors are today. But since that’s a bit based on my own recollections and anecdotal evidence, I’ve turned to ProQuest! 😀 As I’m scanning the articles (I searched “editor Victorian England”), I keep getting the sense that editors functioned more as writer wranglers and curators. But nothing that I’ve found in the 10 minutes I’ve spent perusing the database has pointed to anything truly substantial. I did search “editors victorian england arthur conan doyle” and I got some wonderful hits! I emailed myself a copy of one called “‘Clap if you believe in Sherlock Holmes’: Mass culture and the re-enchantment of modernity, c. 1890 – c.1940.”

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

      • #813

        The whole unsnakey behavior can ruin the story. I think it’s a testament to how good of a story it truly is that most of us are able to look past it and enjoy the story as a whole. When I taught Sherlock Holmes to my fifth graders in November, The Speckled Band was the favorite story we read for most of them.

        • #814
          Le Chat Noir
          Le Chat Noir
          Moderator

          Slightly OT (sorry, bad me, will chastise self later): How many stories to you have your kidlets read? I’ve only used SPEC with my students, because I’m not actually teaching fiction, so I feel pretty bad ass sneaking some Holmes in through the back door.

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

          • #817

            We do brief overviews of Spec, blue carbuncle, red headed league and silver blaze on the first day. We spend a day each on speckled band, blue carbuncle, copper beeches, and red headed league. And then the kids perform plays of blue carbumcle and speckled band. We talk about literary elements and media representations with each one and cap it off with The Great Mouse Detective.

            • #818
              Le Chat Noir
              Le Chat Noir
              Moderator

              Oh my goodness, that is almost too sweet for life. Ending with GMD — icing on the cake of awesome!

              So, regarding SPEC, why do your kids love it so much? More than, say, COPP or BLUE? Is it that the snake is particularly cool (even as it is un-snakey)?

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

              • #820

                It’s definitely the snake. Roylott and Holmes bending the poker was cool for them too. When we did the play, kids fought over who got to be Roylott because they wanted to be a dead guy with a snake on their head.

                • #823
                  Le Chat Noir
                  Le Chat Noir
                  Moderator

                  Well, really, be reasonable: Who DOESN’T want to be the dead guy with a snake on his head?!

                  Did you adapt SPEC into a play for them? Do you use a toy snake? I used to teach theater skills to seventh and eighth graders. When they got excited about something, it was legitimately fun and I did love it.

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

                  • #825

                    I found a play from a Scholaatic magazine that adapted Spec. The copyright was a little iffy, so I found a play version of The Red Headed League to take its place next year.

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