Sunday, November 25, 2007

Conan Doyle, The Hound of The Baskervilles

My neighborhood Barnes and Noble was touting a Sherlock Holmes detective story, and I wondered why? "Babyboomers don't read Sherlock Holmes stuff anymore," I thought.

With some hesitation I purchased The Hound of the Baskervilles and read it over the weekend.

Before long, I realized why I hadn't read Conan Doyle in such a long time: Sherlock's cruelty toward Watson is tasteless; not to say rude. But one cannot help thinking that the ill treatment may be due to Watson's obsequious nature. Ah, yes--let's not ignore the pipe and the violin props.

The book lacks substance; in that, for two thirds of the book Holmes is absent, leaving all the leg work and sleuthing to the amiable Watson. Readers are interested in Holmes' mind, not in Watson's, since we have been conditioned to think of Watson as a dunce.

Anyway, were it not for the well balanced sentences, this detection story--a horror story, though a mild one--would not have merited to be revived. What is admirable is Conan Doyle's mastery of English syntax as well as the lavish display of sentence variation; something contemporary writers could well emulate.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

Toolbox for Writers


Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
Image via Wikipedia

Lindsey Vonn


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