Please visit Breadcrumb Reads for other short stories this Wednesday.
Here's how I chose this week's story. Tom just began reading Laurie R. King's The Language of Bees, and mentioned that it features Damian Adler, the son of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler. I did a search and discovered that Irene Adler is mentioned in four stories, but A Scandal in Bohemia is the one in which she plays a starring role. I realized that while her name is part of the popular culture, and I have been familiar with it for ages, I've never read the story about her. I actually haven't read very much of the Sherlock Holmes canon. But that will change. I loved this story. I thought the detail was fantastic, and I really got to know Holmes and Watson quite well.
A Scandal in Bohemia is in
Look at that price! It is a 1978 edition.
I really enjoyed John Watson's telling of the tale. Sherlock refers to him as his 'Boswell,' the biographer of Samuel Johnson in the 1700s. Watson says that he hasn't seen Holmes too much lately because of his new marriage.
My marriage had drifted us away from each other. My own complete happiness, and the home-centered interests which rise up around the man who first finds himself master of his own establishment, were sufficient to absorb my whole attention; while Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternating from week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce energy of his own nature.I've not taken cocaine but I think that it is not what may be called a 'drowsy' sort of drug, and Conan Doyle's saying this shows the reader that Holmes' natural energy level is amazingly high! This little paragraph also shows us the difference in the two men. It got me thinking about a few other male companions who are the same sorts of opposites. Jeeves and Bertie Wooster; Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin; Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings. The first ones are geniuses, while the second ones are not as brilliant but are certainly more kindly souls. Together they make rather a perfect human being, so paired together they each fulfill what the other lacks. I find this utterly fascinating. I like both men in each group, almost equally well.
Since he is in the neighborhood, Watson decides to drop in one evening. Though Holmes is not 'effusive' in his greeting, Watson feels quite certain that the great detective is glad to see him. Holmes immediately notices that Watson has gained weight and has been tramping around in wet conditions, astounding John Watson as always. Holmes explains that most people 'see' but do not 'observe.'
Holmes reads a letter he has just received telling of an upcoming visit by a masked man who wants to keep his identity secret. From the writing paper and the way the note is written, Sherlock Holmes tells Watson that the writer is a German writing on paper from Bohemia. When the man arrives, he begins an involved tale but using the famed powers of observation, Holmes already knows who the man is - the King of Bohemia. He is about to be married, but an old love interest has a photograph of the two of them and has threatened to send it to the family of his fiancée. He wants Holmes to get ahold of the picture.
This woman is Irene Adler, 'the well-known adventuress'
Born in New Jersey in the year 1858. ... Retired from the operatic stage.There have been five attempts made to get the photo back, with no success. Sherlock Holmes takes on the case and we find out why, in John Watson's words,
To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.I had the best time reading this story. It is wonderfully engaging. I so enjoyed all the characters, and all of Holmes' deductions and schemes. My previous connection with Holmes has been through the Laurie R. King series, and though I am very, very, very late to this party, I'm now an Arthur Conan Doyle fan!
A Scandal in Bohemia
18 pages long.
first published, July 1891 in the Strand Magazine.