Yahoo Sports published a piece arguing that ACD was, for all intents and purposes, the inventor of the modern marathon race. Um, say what? This is a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story/theory that I have never heard so let’s unpack the article and see what’s what: “As exhausted runners enter the final stages of men’s and women’s marathons at the London Olympics they may silently curse Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of fictional [sic] detective Sherlock Holmes, and a pastry chef who was disqualified from the race in 1908.” Apparently, ACD qua journalist covered the 1908 London Olympics, and his most memorable piece was about an Italian pastry chef/runner named Dorando Pietri who maintained the lead in the 26 mile and 385 yard race (a distance that later became the official distance of a marathon, based on this 1908 London course) until the very end when he fell directly before the finish line and was then helped over the line only to be disqualified under a no “outside assistance” rule. “Conan Doyle, working as a journalist, turned the gallant Pietri into a hero through his writing about the race for London’s Daily Mail.” The excitement generated by ACD’s reporting encouraged the idea of the marathon as the apex of strength, stamina and glory in the mind of the public, as well as assuring that the new ‘London version’ (26 miles & 385 yards) would be the official distance (opposed to the traditional ~ 25 miles of the ancient road from the scene of the Battle of Marathon to Athens). Does the above qualify ACD as the inventor of the modern marathon? You make the call.
[Image from the London Olympics of 1908.]
The Newberry Library in Chicago will host ace Holmesian/Doylean scholars Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower on Saturday, September 29, 2012 for a talk on their recently released Dangerous Work: Conan Doyle’s Diary of Arctic Adventure. You may recall that the Literary Agent, before attempting to establish his first medical practice, served as an on-board doctor of a whaling vessel (c.1880) which traversed the Arctic. Having an inclination towards the written word, young ACD kept a journal, and now 132 years later, you can read it thanks to the hard work and editing skills of Team Lellenberg & Stashower - responsible for last year’s release of ACD’s The Narrative of John Smith and the very essential Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters. Though I haven’t received a review copy of Dangerous Work yet, visions of ”The Captain of the Polestar” immediately jumps to mind - a short story by ACD that can be read here - definitely one of the spookier Victorian ghost stories out there. Stashower and Lellenberg’s talk is part of a day long ACD symposium at the gorgeous Newberry Library which will also feature Carter Lupton on Prof. Challenger and Todd Rosenthal discussing a project that, if you haven’t heard about, sounds like it could be quite the experience: a “new exhibition entitled Sherlock Holmes: The Science of Deduction….[is an] 8,000-10,000 sq. ft. interactive exhibition for science and history museums [which] will immerse visitors in Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, the investigation and solution of crime in both Victorian London and today, and how Dr. Conan Doyle foresaw many later forensic methods in the Sherlock Holmes stories.” I’ll be posting more information on this insanely huge sounding exhibit as I come by them, but for now if you are in or near Chicago on September 29th, don’t miss this event! (Big thanks to Gary Thaden of The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota, for the tip!)
[A great looking cover for what I’m guessing will be a whale of a tale.]
Calabash Press - the Sherlock Holmes-centric imprint run by Christopher and Barbara Roden - recently announced the release of an ebook version of William Baring-Gould’s classic Holmes ‘biography’ Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street: A Life of the World’s First Consulting Detective. In another fine example of Sherlockian serendipity, I just happened to finish re-reading (in physical book form) this excellent take on the life of the Great Detective. Digitizing and making easily available this Sherlockian classic will no doubt turn on an entirely new generation to the work of Baring-Gould (the original annotator of the canon). Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street is also an excellent introduction to playing The Game the way it should be played: “as solemnly as a country cricket match at Lord’s” but with an undeniable yet subtle sense of wicked playfulness. Three cheers for Calabash Press!
[The publisher expects the release date to be sometime in September 2012, so fire up your Kindle/Nook.]
Quick Sherlock Links:
The Sherlock Holmes Society of London’s July 2012 newsletter The District Messenger (edited by Roger Johnson) features a number of interesting ‘Holmesian’ (since they are British) links and bits of information but my favorite is to an article/interview with actor David Burke (Granada’s first Watson until “The Final Problem” after which Edward Hardwicke took over) called “The Changing Face of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson” - for some reason the actual link on the District Messenger is broken, but it can be found here.
Baker Street Babes on the Today Show…say what?! That’s correct: Kristina and Kafers of the Baker Street Babes along with venerable Holmesian Roger Johnson of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London all appeared in a short segment dedicated to Sherlock Holmes for the Today Show’s London Olympics coverage. It’s kind of surreal actually.
Sherlock Peoria provided commentary regarding the Today Show Sherlock segment starting rather appropriately (ominously?) with “Day four of Sherlock Holmes Week began with Matt Lauer on Today mispronouncing our hero’s name as “SherLICK Holmes.”“
Alistair Duncan not to be outdone by the TV appearances of two Baker Street Babes and Mr Johnson posted a segment from NBC: “I appear at about 4 minutes and 45 seconds.”
The Baker Street Blog reviews a recently published, very unique sounding monograph which is all about “picture puzzles in which Sherlock Holmes invited the reader to make sense of a number of clues (or, “clews”) found in the picture. He appeared in a variety of situations, and all of the puzzles rely on the double meaning of words. The Musgraves Sherlock Holmes Society in the UK has now compiled twelve of these puzzles, along with answers and explanatory notes, into a 26-page monograph by John Addy.” Check out the full article to try one yourself!
Barefoot on Baker Street ranks her three favorite BBC Sherlock episodes - gold, silver and bronze, of course!
Smithsonian Magazine continues their very excellent series on Sherlock Holmes with an article entitled “The Deerstalker: Where Sherlock Holmes’ Popular Image Came From”, a topic partially inspired by the current exhibition of Glen S. Miranker’s Sherlockiana collection at the Book Club of California in San Francisco (mentioned previously on Always1895) and is liberally peppered with some of the best examples of Sherlock Holmes art and illustrations. Though the article doesn’t contain anything terribly groundbreaking, it’s a well-written and lively piece which has me looking forward to more Smithsonian articles on the Great Detective in the coming weeks.
My Little Bazaar posted my favorite Sherlock Holmes-themed, totally awesome and over-the-top painting of the week. Can you tell which story is being depicted by the artist Robert Fawcett?
[Click for much larger version which is the only way to do this illustration justice. Very nice work from Robert Fawcett.]
Buzzfeed - to conclude this set of links that started with a note about ACD as the ‘inventor’ of the modern marathon - has a classic video that’s worth re-watching right about now: the ultimate convergence of ‘running’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes’….if you’re thinking the most obvious thought, “A Basset Hound Dressed As Sherlock Holmes Running In Slow Motion,” then sit back, click on this video and feel the Glory!
[A true canonical athlete!]