The year 2015 marks the 120th anniversary of Sherlock Holmes’s most productive year. In 1895 he got into a bar fight during the case of “The Solidary Cyclist”, caught a cheating student of classical Greek in “The Three Students”, taught Inspector Hopkins what it means to properly handle a case in “The Black Peter” and solved one of the most important cases of his career by discovering who had stolen the Bruce-Partington Plans.
In 1942 Vincent Starrett, author of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1933), published the poem “221B” or “Always 1895”, celebrating this important year and the immortality of Holmes and Watson.
The year 1895 has also been referred to extensively in Sherlock in connection with John Watson’s Blog and Matt Laffey’s Sherlockian Blog carries the name of the sonnet.
If you have not had the chance to read the poem, here it is:
Here dwell together still two men of note
Who never lived and so can never die:
How very near they seem, yet how remote
That age before the world went all awry.
But still the game’s afoot for those with ears
Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo:
England is England yet, for all our fears–
Only those things the heart believes are true.
A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
As night descends upon this fabled street:
A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five.
The idea formed that since the sonnet means so much to so many Sherlockians/Sherlock Holmes Fans and perfectly expresses how we feel about our favourite detective and his faithful sidekick, we wanted to try and get this poem translated into as many languages as possible so that people who do not speak English can also enjoy it.
For that, we need you!
Do you enjoy translating poetry or do you want to give it a very first try? Then this is your chance. We are planning on collecting the translations and publish them as an e-book (and possibly as a hard copy*) to celebrate the 120th anniversary of this elementary year!
If you want to participate, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your translation along with your name or alias (whichever you prefer to be listed) and the language you translated the poem into until April 30, 2015. Please use “221B” as the subject. You can either copy your translation into the email or send it as a doc/docx, pdf or odt attachment.
In order to judge the translations and pick those who will make the publication, we also need proof readers. If you do not want to translate, but check poems which have been translated into your mother tongue or a language that you speak, please let us know. Send an email to email@example.com with the subject line “proof-reader 221B” and specify the language/s you’d be willing to check. We would work together with you to decide which translations will make it into our book. A second call for proof-readers will follow after the deadline in case we do not have proof-readers for all the different languages that were sent in.
The final decisions will be made by June 1, 2015 so that we can edit the poems and finish the book by July 7, 2015, which marks the 85th anniversary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s death.
You may, of course, apply for both, translation and proof-readership, as we expect several translations of the same major languages. More than one translation into the same language may make it into the book.
Starrett expert and Baker Street Irregular Ray Betzner has offered to write an introduction for the book, which is simply brilliant.
A few remarks concerning the translation of poetry:
Since poetry is a genre which extensively uses stylistic and other literary devices, it is impossible to find an exact translation. End-rhymes, metre and rhythm make translation even more difficult. The greatest challenge is therefore to decide whether you want to translate as much as you can of the content, or keep to the form and necessarily adapt the content.
So be creative and simultaneously give more people all around the world the chance to read one of the greatest poems ever written about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
Note:*We don’t expect to make any money from this. In case any revenue is created from a possible hardcopy-publication, which we would try to make as cheaply available as possible, the money would go into the maintenance of the Baker Street Babes’ website bakerstreetbabes.com. Your participation in this project means that you accept this condition.