Thursday, March 3, 2016
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson: The Consummate odd-couple
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 in my new collection of Holmes adventures – Sherlock Holmes – The Golden Years. One of the stories in this collection, The Kongo Nkisi Spirit Train, a character (Jameson) chats with Dr. Watson about what he sees as the role Watson plays in Holmes’s life and work. Watson says about his relationship with Holmes:
"I am a mere acolyte.”
Jameson held a glint in his eye. “I know better, John. You do what any good colleague does, and provide something that Mr. Holmes needs, even if he may not fully comprehend it.”
“I cannot imagine what that would be.”
“Certainly, a shared journey is richer, and more meaningful. You make that richness available to one another. But also, much of Mr. Holmes’s life is lived within his lofty intellect. You provide the tether that ties him to humanity, and grounds him in the world.”
“I had never thought of our relationship in that particular manner.”
“What is more, Mr. Holmes is a craftsman, an artisan. His craft is unique; but, like all craftsmen, his work must be seen and appreciated. As the master storyteller, you display his craft to the world.”
“Mr. Jameson . . . Lanner . . . your sagacity and discernment are much appreciated. You hold up a mirror into which I seldom peer. Thank you.”
This and the other five new tales in this collection take place when Holmes and Watson are “retired” – 1912 to 1913. 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 hope that my humble interpretation of their relationship contributes to their longevity as one of the most famous male duos in history alongside Laurel and Hardy, Cheech and Chong, and Han Solo and Chewbacca.
The book Sherlock Holmes – The Golden Years is AVAILABLE ON AMAZON and most on-line and main-street bookstores.