Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson: Partners, friends and . . .
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson hold an honored place among the ranks of famous male duos such as Laurel and Hardy, Cheech and Chong, and Han Solo and Chewbacca. Indeed, today it’s hard to believe that, in the early drafts of Doyle’s stories, Holmes’s sidekick was named Ormand Sacker. I suspect Sir Arthur must have realized that, since Watson represented “everyman,” he required a more down-to-earth name – John Watson. And with that, it is interesting to note that Watson’s first name is used only three times within the 60 Holmes stories.
All, but four, of the Sherlock Holmes tales are narrated by Watson. But, the character Watson not only serves as a chronicler, but also as a story telling device. Watson often makes his own observations and offers his own theories, which throw the reader off track a bit, and thus make Holmes’s deductions and solutions all the more surprising.
If you have enjoyed any of the many Sherlock Holmes movies and television programs, you may have noticed that writers and actors interpret the character of John Watson in wide-ranging ways. In some adaptations, Watson is a bumbling fool, in others he is a wise and invaluable ally. So, two of the most important decisions I had to make, as I was writing a new collection of Holmes pastiches, were:
“What kind of man was Dr. John Watson?
And, “What was the nature of Sherlock’s and John’s relationship?
To some extent, I drew upon my own experience, as an older man, with long-time male friends. What kind of relationship do I have with some of my better male friends?
You will be able to see how I answered that question if you read my new collection of Holmes adventures – Sherlock Holmes – The Golden Years. Indeed, in one of the stories in this collection, The Kongo Nkisi Spirit Train, a character chats with Dr. Watson about what he sees as the role Watson plays in Holmes’s life and work.
The five new tales in this collection take place when Holmes and Watson are “retired” – 1912 to 1913. So, I felt it was important to show how their relationship had evolved, mellowed, and become deeper and richer in the decade following their supposed retirement in 1903.
I feel my treatment of Holmes’s and Watson’s relationship does not “violate” The Canon, but rather builds upon it in a believable, logical manner -- given their longevity of Holmes and Watson as colleagues. I would be curious to know what you think.
The book Sherlock Holmes – The Golden Years is AVAILABLE ON AMAZON and most on-line and main-street bookstores.