Weekly Forum: 19 August 2014

Undeveloped Characters in the Canon

The Undeveloped Characters

Like Mrs Turner, there exist other undeveloped and often completely unexplained characters in the Canon. 

One of these is Mercer, a member of Holmes’s agency, described as his    “. . . general utility man who looks up routine business . . . .”  And, there is the other Mercer, the second mate of Gloria Scott, who is also named as Mereer in some editions. 

Mercer would seem to have had a significant function in the agency activities (and apparently in the creative mind of Doctor Watson), but we have little or nothing of him to give further clarification.  Perhaps you have thoughts on this character (or other characters) that exist only in the Canonical shadows.

Weekly Forum: 12 August 2014

The Income of the Firm

The Firm, with its headquarters at 221B Baker Street, was–in today’s terminology–a closely-held, limited liability corporation, or LLC; otherwise it would likely not have been called “The Firm” by Holmes.

What was the attitude toward income, profit and wealth-building (the primary, if not only, objectives of a corporation)? We perhaps think of Holmes as above such things, but in fact was he?  Do we find either direct comments or written, narrative by Doctor Watson regarding Holmes’ income motives? Does Holmes provide clues as to his opinions of money and wealth?

Then, contrast the income, profit and wealth-building attitudes of the other professional in the household: Doctor Watson. What evidence do we have that he either was concerned or not concerned with his practice’s income?  How do they reconcile their individual views about money and wealth? 

Weekly Forum: 6 August 2014

Buttons is a bit late; sorry, busy you know.

This week’s Forum concerns the Canonical novels:  How do the American settings of VALL and STUD influence your opinion of the novels?  Contrast your feelings about those two novels to your feelings about HOUN and SIGN.

We encourage all to join in the discussion. The recent Weekly Forums have been exceptionally well-received and have created the greatest level of Member participation of any activity.  Thank you!

Weekly Forum: 29 July 2014

Doctor Who:

This week’s Forum delves into the various screen and television portrayals of Doctor Watson. If we begin with the earliest Watson’s, including Roland Young and others, move through the Nigel Bruce period, then to the David Burke and Edward Hardwicke portrayals with Jeremy Brett, on to Jude Law, Martin Freeman, and Lucy Liu, can we contrast the Watsons and what each of them add to or take away from our own ideal version of John Watson?

Our own Society Members, Kieran McMullen “Raleigh” and Molly Carr “Brenda,” have written excellent books on the Dr Watson subject (The Many Watsons by Kieran McMullen and In Search of Doctor Watson by Molly Carr).  Both are highly recommended to all who are interested in the Watson history. They are available on Amazon.

The key to this discussion is what you think and how you wish your Doctor Watson to be and remain. Please join in the discussion. We are most interested in your thoughts.

The Weekly Forum

Doctor Watson speaks of Mary Morstan with a great deal of love in SIGN. In fact, one could posit that Doctor Watson was struck by ‘love at first sight.’ Was his love (or her’s) enduring? Was he successful as a husband? Like so many other matters, we have no definitive answers for these questions. But we have evidence, a great deal of implied and sketchy evidence.

There are many threads concerning Dr Watson’s marriage(s). Some propose multiple marriages, but little in the way of their histories.  Is it possible for us to cooperatively take up the threads and find a supportable chronology of the good Doctors marital status and indicated lodgings and offer an overarching theory for his marital history? 

And, as a second bit of theorizing, perhaps we could catalog the evidence and from it formulate the positive and negative aspects of his personality in order to answer the question: “What would it have been like to be married to Doctor John Watson?”

Weekly Forum: Mrs Turner

The Mrs Turner Question

Weekly Forum 2014: 15 July 2014

Below is all of the textual evidence concerning Mrs Turner who is mentioned only once in the Canon and then disappears forever into question.  From the text, a number of explanations can be developed from the following snippets: “Mrs Turner;” “brought in the tray;”  “our landlady had provided.”  

You may wish to put forth explanations as to Mrs Turner’s antecedents that seem most promising to you and perhaps others will do the same.  

The text:  
[Watson] “But what is it you wish?”
 “When Mrs Turner has brought in the tray I will make it clear to you. Now,” he said, as he turned hungrily on the simple fare that our landlady had provided, “I must discuss it while I eat, for I have not much time. It is nearly five now. In two hours we must be on the scene of action. Miss Irene, or Madame, rather, returns from her drive at seven. We must be at Briony Lodge to meet her.”

Words . . .

This morning, the tree nursery is coming to plant a Chinese Fringe Tree in our yard (Google image it if you haven’t seen one).

Those three words led me to ask myself if I could cite the use of each word in the Canon. Rather than do the research, I decided to let our intrepid Canonical Concordance Commandos attack the question.  Where are the words Chinese, fringe and tree in the Canon?  How many appearances for each?

Weekly Forum:  “Families”

Weekly Forum

Topic: The Primary “Families” of the Canon

Two primary groups of close-knit characters exist in the Canon. These act almost as “families.”

The “Holmes Family” consisting of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Doctor John Watson and Mrs Hudson often contest against the “Moriarty Family” consisting of Professor James Moriarty, his brothers, Colonel James Moriarty and the “station-master,” and Colonel Sebastian Moran.

How are these two “families” utilized in the Canon as both parallels and antitheses? Are there other “families” in the Canon? Are there echoes of Shakespeare, the eternal struggle between ‘good and evil,’ the Greek literary forms, or other literary antecedents?  

Feel free to comment and join in. The more the merrier!


From the Hall Stool: Weekly Forum

One of the most interesting things about Buttons’ job for the Good Doctor is sitting on the hall stool and observing the comings and goings.

Recently, we have had a lively discussion on the literary merits of Mr Mycroft. What Buttons observed was a number of very well-formed positions with ample textual evidence for an enjoyable and beneficial Forum. Just listening (with an aside or two), I learned a great deal about the Doctor’s intentions and the importance of Mr Holmes’ brother (who I think is involved more than we know).

Anyway, just sitting here day after day, it occurs to me that we could use the Doctor’s waiting room for a Weekly Forum.  There are no patients on Tuesday (the Doctor goes to the races on Tuesday) and we can arrange the chairs and have a group of people in to discuss various things about the Doctor’s stories, all done gracious-like and polite.  I spoke with the gov’nor and he said, “Go ahead. It might sell more books,” so Dr W has no objections; in fact, he said he would leave a note on his desk on Monday night with his suggestion for the Forum topic.  I’ll pin it up on the door and when you arrive you’ll be ready to join in on the discussion.

A Forum format rather than a debate allows us all the positive aspects of dialogue without the necessity of “winning” as in a debate format. The ancient Forum assured the integrity of intellectual honesty, the graciousness of polite discourse, the respect  for rhetorical arts, and the celebration of shared discoveries. 

If you are interested in being a part of the Weekly Forum, stop by on Tuesday at two o’clock in the afternoon, Eastern time.  If you wish to bring a pint and a pie, feel free to do so. You might want to bring an extra in case someone here might be hungry or thirsty. 

More On Mycroft

For a moment, forget all of the “character business” we know about Mycroft and think of him in context of the Canonical structure.  What is Mycroft’s role and purpose in the Canon?  Is he a major or minor character?   Is he essential to understanding something about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson? Is he simply interesting but not essential? If Mycroft was not included in the Canon, would we notice his absence?

Consider what Sherlock tells us: 1) Mycroft is older; 2) Mycroft has greater powers than Sherlock; 3) Mycroft is even more intellectually powerful and ascetic than Sherlock; 4) Everything concerning Mycroft is static whereas everything about Sherlock is dynamic; Mycroft is ennui and Sherlock is energy.

Is Mycroft a literary device to illuminate Sherlock? What is Watson’s opinion of Mycroft, or does he have one?

Your thoughts . . . .?