Special #5: Lyndsay’s Intro to Canon—Part 2

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Welcome to the second part of Lyndsay Faye‘s Sherlock Holmes class at the Center for Fiction in Manhattan! This time: Death! Below is Lyndsay’s course description for you to follow along.

SESSION 2: The Fall.

–The Final Problem
–The Adventure of the Empty House
–“Fan Fictions: On Sherlock Holmes” by Michael Chabon from Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands
The Bruce-Partington Plans
–The Creeping Man
–“A Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed himself to be shackled to Holmes to the point of inhibiting projects he deemed more important and artistic; as a result, he summarily killed his most famous character at the Reichenbach Falls. For ten years, the public believed Sherlock Holmes to be deceased.

This circumstance has led to an array of fascinating phenomena within the cult of Sherlockian study. Not only did Doyle inadvertently turn Holmes into a Christ figure who, like all great heroes as explicated in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with A Thousand Faces, confronts death only to rise again, but gaping holes in the plot of both “The Final Problem” and “The Empty House” have led to endless fan speculation.

How does “The Final Problem” break numerous rules of good storytelling, and how did these authorial failures transform Holmes from a consulting detective to a mythical hero? In what ways does Michael Chabon’s essay illuminate what we love about great literature, and how does Neil Gaiman’s award-winning pastiche reflect these concepts?

 

Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends is available as a book and e-book from Amazon.

Neil Gaiman’s short story is collected in the short story anthology A Study in Sherlock, also available from Amazon as hardcover or paperback.