Like I said in my introduction to Sherlock Holmes, I am reading through all four novels, and all fifty-six short stories starring the famous detective. Rather than just skip around and read what I am feeling at the moment, I felt it was a better idea to read the novels and stories in order of publication. That way I can get to know Holmes and Watson as they develop.
I am also going to point out one more time that while I am reading all NINE books featuring Holmes, they are only counting as ONE title on my overall list. See my introduction for clarification.
Completing all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels is one of the biggest accomplishments of this project so far. 56 short stories and 4 novels is a lot of material on a couple of characters. And while Doyle never gave me all the details and the full background on either Holmes or Watson, I have learned to regard these two men as close friends. I know them, and I know their stories. In a crisis situation, I would know who I could rely on, and who to turn to.
But learning about these two men was not all that I learned. I am sure that my own deduction skills have improved. :) I also learned a great deal about crime in the era that Holmes and Watson lived in. And while these stories didn't have all of the fancy equipment and lab items that you might see on CSI, they tricked me more times than I figured them out.
More than that, this series showed me that it is not just in our generation that characters became so well-loved and like. With our addictions to series like Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, the characters and terminology from those books lives on in our everyday chatter. I would argue that Sherlock Holmes has permeated even further. We all see the sign of a detective when we see his signature hat, his cloak, and the magnifying glass up to his eye. Those are the signs of a lasting impression of literature on the world. Personally, I would rather remember a dazzling and intelligent detective over a vampire who sparkles in the sunlight.
These stories have lasted and become such a part of our culture for a reason. Holmes is the ultimate detective-a man who lives by his own rules and seems to love no one (except maybe Watson). He works to prove his intelligence and to show that there can be an explanation for almost everything.
Sherlock Holmes will forever be a part of the literary canon. He is a figure and a character that we will always remember.
I think Doyle says it best. In the introduction to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, Doyle says the following,
"I fear that Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences...His career has been a long one...It is a striking example of the patience and loyalty of the British public."
Yes, Holmes perhaps outlived his legacy, but Doyle would probably be surprised at how the public has held on to his character. I don't think Doyle ever could have dreamed that in 2009 there would be a movie made about the famous detective that he attempted to off, but had to bring back to life because of public demand.
That shows the power of literature and the effect it can have on those who cherish it.
In any case, I can finally cross off The Complete Sherlock Holmes from my list and move on. But I know I will be returning to these stories and novels in the future...many, many times.