For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Sherlock Holmes: A Secret History
  • John V. Hennessy
Reviews Table of Contents Introduction «Back
Sherlock Holmes: A Secret History.
Sound Bite
Broad in range and scope, this book delves into the mind and milieu of Arthur Conan Doyle, exploring the context in which he developed the beloved character Sherlock Holmes and the stories, the world, in which he comes to life.

The author notes and deciphers a wealth of symbols and references from philosophy, religion, literature, history and contemporary events that enrich the plots and the morals of Doyle's clever tales, showing them to be more than merely entertaining.


About the Author

A native New Yorker, John V. Hennessy has written art, dance, and music criticism for newspapers in the New York area for many years as well as catalogues for art galleries in Manhattan. He has also served as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts.

As a sideline, Mr. Hennessy was a stock trader on Wall Street for fifteen years. An Air Force veteran, he worked as a security supervisor for two New York companies and wrote the security manual for a large oil company.

Mr. Hennessy holds a master’s degree in creative art from Hunter College and he studied Hindu philosophy under Dr. S. C. Roy at Cooper Union, before going on to complete every course offered by the New York Institute of Finance. His approach to the work of Arthur Conan Doyle combines a strong aesthetic sense with an acute eye for spotting and interpreting clues...

About the Book
Many readers have been fascinated by the complex and cunning mind of Arthur Conan Doyle, inventor of the personality of Sherlock Holmes. Hennessy offers readers a deeper understanding of how one great mind goes about creating another great...
Many readers have been fascinated by the complex and cunning mind of Arthur Conan Doyle, inventor of the personality of Sherlock Holmes. Hennessy offers readers a deeper understanding of how one great mind goes about creating another great mind.

Of all the books exploring the subject of Sherlock Holmes, this is the only one that reaches into the philosophical and psychological depths of the work and uses these findings to present a new understanding of the writer's motives and aesthetic goals.
Introduction

In hitting a few of the highlights in this summation of Doyle’s creativity, I realize I am omitting areas of thought equally important (if such a thing can be measured), but I had to draw the line somewhere. Taken purely on the level of associative writing, as put forth by the Symbolist Manifesto, the products of Doyle’s mind are the most...

In hitting a few of the highlights in this summation of Doyle’s creativity, I realize I am omitting areas of thought equally important (if such a thing can be measured), but I had to draw the line somewhere. Taken purely on the level of associative writing, as put forth by the Symbolist Manifesto, the products of Doyle’s mind are the most thoughtful and thought provoking of their kind that I know of, so any assessing of such convoluted introspections would of necessity be abbreviated, arbitrary, and incomplete. Space and time force me to leave gaps, some of which I hope to fill in at a future date. I have dealt solely with sources such as philosophers, fictional writers, and so forth, that I am familiar with. Like a fisherman who cannot see his lure in such deep water, I have no idea of what may have come up to the bait, but failed to bite.

With the exception of religious authority, the achievements in nonfiction that cultivated the most profound and deep-seated control on Doyle’s choice of source material are unquestionably the philosophical concepts, which foster and motivate artistic creation by advocating an external prerogative, forcing purpose on the evolution of abstract thoughts serving as an armature of concrete material dress, and in turn becoming the preeminent factor in the esthetic. They gave the work energy and direction. Arthur Doyle owned one of the largest philosophical libraries in private hands. Any work of art, be it a painting, sculpture, or a piece of writing, is an external display of the quality, maturity, and intentions of the mind that created it; the work itself showing what the creator was thinking at the time, his level of mental development, morals, and so forth. Doyle was no exception to this rule. The philosophical reflections expressed in these stories designate the rich mental texture of the artist, who lifted them boldly from their original context, and adding to them the needs of his individual personality, stamped them as uniquely his own. Arthur Conan Doyle and his creation Sherlock Holmes are two of the most unique people that ever lived. Doyle utilized considerations from just about every field of philosophy, but definitely there developed a stronger sphere of influence expressed by speculations and personalities generated within the period known as the Enlightenment, and the conceptions that came about either by what had sponsored its founding, such as Descartes’ thoughts, or by what had resulted from its expansion, such as empiricism, pragmatism, and science; yet these stories do not deal with a solitary dominant point of view emphasizing a system contingent on a philosophical attitude, such as we find in the existential concoctions of Jean-Paul Sartre, or the desperate liberalism of Voltaire. Rather they take as their foundation large, heterogeneous chunks from the world of thought that has preceded them or is contemporary with them, and with these considerations weave a new web: flexible, personal, and highly entertaining, whose abstract energy assimilates into the dynamic personalities found in the Holmes Canon...


More . . .
We see that Doyle during the course of his lifetime gave up his Catholicism and converted to Protestantism, such an act being considered the decision of one who is truly a believer, secure in his belief in a Deity, and definitely not the action of a skeptic. He found it easy to give up one Christian religion for another, since for one who believes, just about any religion will do. Such a man knows all sorts of ways of worshiping and is always at worship. The old attitude of obligations toward...
We see that Doyle during the course of his lifetime gave up his Catholicism and converted to Protestantism, such an act being considered the decision of one who is truly a believer, secure in his belief in a Deity, and definitely not the action of a skeptic. He found it easy to give up one Christian religion for another, since for one who believes, just about any religion will do. Such a man knows all sorts of ways of worshiping and is always at worship. The old attitude of obligations toward devout service and the Deity do not pass away to leave a vacancy but are transferred into an equally fervid commitment (perhaps more so for being the result of conversion) and service toward one’s fellow man and especially toward those who have found equal disillusionment in their society and its ability to protect them from evil and harm. What we miss of the ancient solace and personal protection of a religious order grows into a moral sense of participation in the common good, of our new beliefs having a destination of their own, in this case the ethical code found within all the Holmes stories. The removal of apprehensions and dread from the hearts of his people is the function of Holmes. In this way we do not feel as though we have abandoned that which should not have been abandoned, nor that we have in turn been abandoned. Descartes creates philosophy, Sherlock upholds the common law, and Jesus with his life and thoughts solves questions of morals and faith; all three carry peace to a troubled world. All three set conditions for imitation that have been taken up by uncountable numbers of people. The other writers: William and Henry James, Nietzsche, Cooper, Carlyle, Diderot, and so many others I must pretend to overlook, give splendid aesthetic guidance and judgment, while the heroes, such as Zarathustra, Hawkeye, and Beowulf, set further example if necessary.
Categories

Pages 412
Year: 2017
BISAC: LIT004120 LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-288-0
Price: USD 24.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-289-7
Price: USD 34.95
eBook
ISBN: 978-1-62894-290-3
Price: USD 24.95
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