restricted access The Oxford Sherlock Holmes: A Review Essay
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The Oxford Sherlock Holmes: A Review Essay Edward S. Lauterbach Purdue University A Study in Scarlet Owen Dudley Edwards, ed. liii + 200 pp. The Sign of the Four Christopher Roden, ed. Iv + 137 pp. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Richard Lancelyn Green, ed. xlix + 389 pp. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Christopher Roden, ed. lvii + 321 pp. The Hound of the Baskervilles W. W. Robson, ed. xliii + 188 pp. The Return of Sherlock Holmes Richard Lancelyn Green, ed. xlvii + 408 pp. The valley of Fear Owen Dudley Edwards, ed. lvii + 234 pp. His Last Bow Owen Dudley Edwards, ed. xlix + 252 pp. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes W. W. Robson, ed. xlv + 290 pp. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993 9 Volumes. $99.00 IN TERMS OF TEXT and scholarly apparatus, the nine-volume Oxford Sherlock Holmes supersedes all earlier editions. The general editor is Owen Dudley Edwards, Reader in History, University of Edinburgh, and author of the recent Doyle biography The Quest for Sherlock Holmes. The other editors are Richard Lancelyn Green, Doyle bibliographer; W. W. Robson, Professor Emeritus of English Literature, 502 LAUTERBACH : HOLMES University of Edinburgh; and Christopher Roden, founder of the Arthur Conan Doyle Society and editor of its journal. Individual volumes are complete in themselves since the General Editor's Preface to the Series, the Select Bibliography and A Chronology of Arthur Conan Doyle are repeated in each. The Select Bibliography lists Doyle's major publications, then works about Doyle and Holmes, with occasional brief comment on important secondary works. The Chronology indicates succinctly the relationship of Doyle's publications to the sequence of important events in his life. For each individual volume there is an Introduction by the editor of that particular title, a Note on the Text and Explanatory Notes. Appendices with short pieces relating to the Holmes stories, by Doyle or by others, are included where pertinent. In his General Editor's Preface, Edwards comments on the Holmes manuscripts. Of these only about half survive, and many are in private collections and difficult of access. From the manuscripts available it is evident that Doyle often underpunctuated and made comparatively few corrections or alterations. He simply did not pay much attention to the publication or republication of his Holmes stories and seldom questioned changes by editors. Edwards points out that, "In general, American texts of the stories are closer to the magazine texts than British book texts." He also explains why the sequence of a few stories has been rearranged for this edition. The Note on the Text of each volume indicates the original form of publication, whether a manuscript exists, how each editor has treated his text and additional facts relevant to the original publication. Further publication data are given at the beginning of the Explanatory Notes, including details about British and American editions and original serialization of novels. The original periodical publication of each story in the collections is also recorded for both British and American magazines , and subsequent publication in newspapers is noted. Textual variants are recorded in the Explanatory Notes rather than at the bottom of each page of text as is more usual in modern authoritative texts published by Oxford. Actually there are comparatively few textual variants since Doyle seldom revised his work. Information about where and when Doyle composed a Holmes story is often added. If read consecutively the introductions to the nine volumes trace the changes in Doyle's technique in the over 40 years he wrote about Holmes. The first two novels, A Study in Scarlet (1887) and The Sign of 503 ELT 37:4 1994 the Four (1890), were only moderately successful. Roden points out, in his introduction to Sign of the Four, that in the first novel "the character of Sherlock Holmes was to create no great early impression," but in the second, Doyle reintroduced Holmes to his readers, refining Holmes's character and clarifying the relationship between Holmes and Dr. Watson. His writing became more confident, and he added touches of humor. With the series of short stories published in the Strand Magazine beginning in 1891, the phenomenal popularity of Holmes exploded. Sales of the magazine always increased when a Holmes...