Posts Tagged ‘Arthur Conan Doyle’

A recommendation for Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Etienne Gerard series

January 31, 2008

I knew of Conan Doyle’s Holmes novels and stories; I also liked his Lost world, which I read it in tamil translation ages ago. However, I did not know about his Brigadier Etienne Gerard series; over at NPR, Michael Chabon strongly recommends these stories:

But did you know that in between gleefully killing off Holmes and somewhat reluctantly reviving him, Arthur Conan Doyle created another great fictional character, one who easily rivals Holmes — if not for intelligence, then for heroism, bravery and dash? A character who exceeds Holmes in the one trait in which the great detective, by his own admission, was always deficient: a rich and lovable humanity. This hero, a handsome, charming and resourceful cavalry officer serving in the Grand Army of Napoleon, has only one tragic flaw, though in his own eyes, of course, it is his glory and his single greatest advantage in life: He is a Frenchman.

His name is Brigadier Etienne Gerard, and he starred in 17 short stories that Conan Doyle wrote, with a palpable sense of liberation, after pushing Holmes off that Alpine ledge. In their day they were almost as popular as the Holmes stories, but I have to confess that even though I’m a lifelong Sherlockian, I had never heard of the good brigadier until his exploits and adventures were recently collected in a single volume.

In its pages you will find adventure, action, romance, love and self-sacrifice, hair’s-breadth escape and reckless courage, gallantry, panache and a droll, backhand humor that rivals that of P.G. Wodehouse. You will also find yourself, even more than with the celebrated stories of Holmes and Watson, in the hands of an indisputable artist. For more than any other adventure stories I know, these stories have a power to move the reader.

There is a very long excerpt too from the recent collection of this series; have fun!

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Most consoling of literary icons

November 13, 2007

That is what Dinah Birch calls Sherlock Homes while  reviewing two recent biographies of his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle (link via A&L Daily):

It is odd that so much comfort is to be had from Sherlock Holmes, given the brutal violence of his adventures. Not only are those who cross his path routinely shot, bludgeoned, or knifed, they run the risk of being starved, buried alive, attacked by huge and frenzied hounds, killed by horses, jellyfish, or venomous snakes, asphyxiated with toxic vapours, afflicted with foul diseases, or crushed in giant iron presses. They might lose a thumb or an ear; occasionally they lose their minds. Yet Holmes is the most consoling of literary icons. He cannot always prevent crime or punish the criminal, but he never fails to explain what has happened, and how, and why. The prosaic Watson likes to claim that his hero is infallible because he scorns the emotional baggage that befuddles the judgement of lesser men. In fact these stories are tense with feeling, for Holmes’s hatred of wrongdoing is a passion rather than an intellectual commitment.

Take a look!