Episode 330: The Strange Case of Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes

February 5, 2015

Episode330

Featuring Matt Anderson and Ben De Bono

Is it possible that Watson and Holmes are one and the same?

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3 comments on “Episode 330: The Strange Case of Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes

  1. Michael Feb 5, 2015

    I wondered if Ben knew about “Playing the Game” when the last Sherlock episode was recorded or not. It didn’t sound like he did, but it was such fun to listen to him, I didn’t want to be the one to burst the balloon. 😉 Not only is it applying textual, redaction, and other criticisms to the stories “as if it were biblical criticism” — it in fact originated as a gentle parody of biblical criticism! So welcome to the Game!

    I can’t immediately find any “scholarship” on the hypothesis that Watson and Holmes are one and the same, but I suspect Sherlockian game-players have examined it before. (I did find some reference to the hypothesis that Holmes and Moriarty are the same – http://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/apr/26/arthurconandoyle. He doesn’t even “appear” outside of Holmes’ dialogue to Watson in “The Final Problem” at all. Readers never see Moriarty through Watson’s eyes in the entire series.) One of the great things about The Game, though, is that no subject is ever exhausted, and each scholar brings something new to the task (again, not unlike biblical criticism!).

    There is, of course, the movie “Without a Clue,” in which Dr. Watson hires an actor to play Sherlock Holmes, who was Watson’s fictional creation. Never seen it, but know the premise and keep meaning to get around to it…

    Enjoyed the episode!

    PS. I disagree with your characterization that Holmes never wanted to retire. In “The Final Problem,” he tells Watson, “I tell you Watson, in all seriousness, that if I could beat that man, if I could free society of him, I should feel that my own career had reached its summit, and I should be prepared to turn to some more placid line in life. Between ourselves, the recent cases in which I have been of assistance to the royal family of Scandinavia, and to the French republic, have left me in such a position that I could continue to live in the quiet fashion which is most congenial to me, and to concentrate my attention upon my chemical researches.”

    In other words, it was largely Moriarty that kept Holmes going. Once Moriarty was beaten, it was only a matter of time until Sherlock (who, in the Canon, is not quite the raving sociopath he is on the BBC) would decide to take up bee-keeping and “the quiet fashion which is most congenial to me” — Q.E.D.

    • Ben De Bono Feb 5, 2015

      Ah, but you’re assuming Holmes actually said that quote (and the others like it). I’m arguing that is a complete fabrication by Dr. Watson. Remember, in this reading almost all of The Final Problem didn’t happen – that line included.

      Even outside this particular reading, lines like that are problematic. For one, Holmes doesn’t quit when Moriarty dies. I also have a hard time reconciling retirement with his character. No he’s not quite as sociopathic in the ACD stories, but someone who uses cocaine out of boredom is hardly someone longing for a quiet country life.

      I’m sure you’re aware too that there’s a wealth of information from people who have analyzed from a psychological perspective. There’s every reason to believe that mental illness plays some role in what drives him. Unless he was suddenly cured – which there is no evidence for – I find it quite the stretch that he would shift focus to bee keeping.

      From the perspective of higher criticism, Watson’s claim that Holmes was longing for retirement is paper thin. I for one don’t buy it for a second

      • Really? What if he wanted a retirement from his brain? If he has some form of super-intelligence inducing autism, or just has a mind that is beyond ordinary mortals, perhaps he would look for a way to turn it down, or even off. Perhaps beekeeping, in his mind, has the chance to occupy his mind on the thousands of bees rather than on the minutiae of every-day life?

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