I’ve decided to skip Huckleberry Finn and instead read another classic novel, the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.
I recently listened to a special on NPR about Arthur Conan Doyle’s journals being published for the first time in a book called Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure. One of the editors, Jon Lellenberg discussed it on the broadcast, Doyle’s early influences and the story of how he ended up on an Arctic Whaling Ship at the age of 20.
“The only difference in the weather is that the fog is thicker and the wind more utterly odious and depraved,” says Jon as he quotes from Doyle’s diary written in 1880, years before his first Holmes novel.
I stumbled upon this book at Barnes and Noble after minutes of precarious searching, turns out it’s in the Nature section. I opened it’s wide pages and surprisingly found actual scanned copies and sketches from Doyle’s diary; I started reading through his barely legible text. I fell upon a passage where he arrives at a port city, “Passed the skerry light, and came down to Lerwick but did not get into the harbour as we are in a hurry to catch the tide at Peterhead, so there goes all my letters, papers and everything else. A girl was seen at the lighthouse waving a handkerchief and all hands were called to look at her. The first woman we have seen for half a year.”
Clearly, although he’s only 20, you can already see very powerful storytelling capabilities emerging in the way he describes his voyage. I have to be honest, it impressed me; I couldn’t wait to start reading his developed narrative about the detective Sherlock Holmes. And lucky for me, behind the tall bookcase in the nature section sat the entire series of Sherlock Holmes in one book on the corner shelf of the bargain section. Sorry Kindle, sometimes I need to feel the weight of a book in my hands.
I do plan on eventually reading Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure. And don’t worry you don’t have to cipher through his handwriting, there’s a transcript in the back.
Looking forward to reading through the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and blogging about it. I’ve gotten through a few of the cases already as I can’t seem to put the book down.