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Discussion in 'Book of the Month' started by Landslide, Jan 31, 2012.
Discussion starts March 1st.
So I'm reading this as an e-book from Project Gutenberg, and suddenly there's talk of people sending "telegrams", and someone sends a "letter" made up of words cut out of something called "newspapers" which Holmes can identify due to the quality of the "print". How quaint.
I really enjoyed this book, but I will admit I am a bit biased as I love Sherlock Holmes
This book delivers a slice of awesome pie straight to the synapses. It is the perfect novel, in size, shape and delivery of literary-fiction detective-flavoured excellence.
Not sure I'd factor size and shape in as measures of "perfect" in fiction, but sure, it's zipping along nicely. I remembered reading this, but I realise now that I'd completely forgotten what the twist is. So it's a bit like reading it for the first time.
I've never seen the movie. How does the book compare to the movie?
I'm curious about the 1914 version. Seems to have survived, too.
I didn't know there was even one until we started voting for the BOTM so I don't much care which you comment on. I am just curious about the comparison and if the movie is true to the text.
Hollywood and their brethren always manage to jazz up Baskerville, with varying results. Probably the Brett version is the best.
I'd read most of the Holmes stories when I was a child, and only recently reread The Hound of the Baskervilles early last year. I was disappointed, it felt unfriendly and awkward. I hated the way Holmes treated Watson, and felt the whole thing over rated.
Ding! I think you just hit on the reason I dislike the stories! Holmes is always such a condescending snot.
He is fairly insufferable. But the films soften that feeling, at least somehow better project the fact that Holmes really does value Watson, and his contributions, which are considerable.
I find the newer the film version of Holmes, the more humanizing they are. This is one instance that I can say I actually prefer the film versions over the original books/stories.
Reading them in childhood, certain aspects are not appreciated, we only see the excitement of the chase. When we (at least in my case) read them as an adult, we see the nuances, or lack thereof in the characters/characterizations.
I believe I heard someone use the phrase "insufferable prig" and that about sums it up for me.
So the movies make Holmes more human? Gotta love Hollywood, anything is possible.
You what now?
Then, Watson is 'aroused' from his sleep. Giggety.
Later, another man on the Moor? Surely it cannot be....
Oh Holmes, you (predictably) wily rascal.
This suffers from over exposure, I am enjoying it nonetheless.
So, final thoughts on Hound Of The Baskervilles:
- I like the setting. A lot. Old houses, misty moors, ancient dwellings, mysterious secondary characters (I want more on Frankland!)...
- I don't think Doyle intended all of it, but something that struck me; a lot of aspects the story are incredibly dated (how much of it depends on slow communications, the absolutely blatant class and gender differences, etc), but it really makes a point of them; travelling from "modern" London by train to a village frozen in time, full of mediaeval fairytales of devil dogs and even an old stone-age village... It's a story very much set in a breaking point in time, right at the end of the industrial revolution, with Doyle deliberately taking a literally agnostic position towards the mystery; he doesn't immediately rule out supernatural causes, he just argues that it's a pointless starting point for the investigation. If it's supernatural, then there's nothing they can do about it, nothing they can find out about it, so what's the point of even including that possibility? Let's just look at what we can know and prove (the story also makes a point of him refusing to act until he has absolute proof).
- Dogs are cool.
- Is John Watson the dullest narrator ever or what? I mean, Doyle gives him a setting that would make most fictional narrators salivate - like I said, misty moors, old creaky houses, mysterious characters, dark shadows, escaped criminals, femmes fatales, horrid deaths, ancient myths, even more ancient ghosts... And he only gives us glimpses of it, all reported in the same self-satisfied bemused tone. Why should I care when the person telling it to me doesn't?
- The mystery itself is clever and all, but it's so very obviously exactly that: a mystery. Everything that exists within this story exists to advance the mystery, everything is part of the construction that only serves to answer the exact question we were asked in the beginning. Dull, dull, dull.
That's about it.
Just happened to catch a documentary on TV about the bronze age settlements at Dartmoor, where much of Hound is set. Looks far more impressive and dramatic through a camera than through Watson's/Doyle's description. And it didn't even need any demon dogs.
In Laurie R. King's The Moor (one of her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series) presents the moor in a far better light, or lets say a far more interesting and haunting light than Doyle. She manages to give it a real sense of place.
My review of this book (small spoiler warning):
Sir Charles Baskerville’s corpse is found in the grounds of his Devonshire estate, Baskerville Hall, and despite a public inquest clearing up certain rumours regarding his death, certain private facts pertaining to the death are withheld.
These circumstances are revealed to famous consulting detective Sherlock Holmes by Dr Mortimer, a troubled friend of the recently deceased. Concerned at raising the grim historical reputation that surrounds Baskerville Hall, not to mention discarding his closely held scientific investigative principles in the face of proper evidence, he has chosen Holmes as a confidant in the matter in the hope that he can elude to certain unexplained, possibly paranormal possibilities in the case.
Legend and local superstition has it that a demonic hound stalks the moors surrounding the area and the insinuation (backed by some evidence) is that such hound is responsible for chasing down Sir Charles and terrifying him to death. There is also concern that a similar fate may befall his heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, who has received an anonymous note warning him to stay away from the moor if he values his life. Watson is sent ahead to investigate the goings on alongside Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry, and soon discovers further mystery and hints at evil along the way.
I should probably add a disclaimer at some point, and that’s that The Hound of the Baskervilles is a favourite novel of mine. Possibly my favourite novel, depending on the hour of the day and my particular mood, but it has definitely been quoted as such several times. I even own copies in several languages I don’t speak (including Thai and Japanese). The reason I like it is that it doesn’t mess around, it’s prompt, punctual, lacks waffle put packs an awful amount of content and story into the mix, really does have a great mystery (actually several great mysteries going on) and concluded fantastically well.
The many different sub-plots running through the book intertwine perfectly. From the original supernatural-hinted themes of the hound itself, then later of the escaped murderous convict, the intriguing Stapletons of Merripit House, the back-story of the ancient lord of the manor in league with the devil, it all gels together to such great effect. Not to mention this is rip-roaring stuff, a classic gothic-themed novel with the added excellence of 221b Baker Street’s consulting detective, who takes a far more passive role than in other books, letting the other characters ripen and story flesh-out successfully.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a must read. With not a wasted sentence, there’s not a moment of boredom to be had with this book. It’s a novel underpinned with a mouth-watering mystery and bump-in-the-night goings on, so if you haven’t done so already I urge you to check it out now.
Good review Will.
^ Agree. I enjoyed the story. I read an abridged kids version when I was young and had forgotten everything. Especially that Holmes is such a jerk! It works well though and I got used to it halfway through the story. I like the pacing and the no no-nonsense prose style. It helps to move the story along nicely. I am a slow reader and still could have finished it in a couple of sittings if I'd had time.
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