Why Sherlock Holmes is Immortal: An Introduction

Sherlock Holmes graced the literary world with his presence in 1887. Initially writing with the sole intent to earn pocket change after a struggling medical practice, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle soon found himself flabbergasted at just how popular the character had become. Over a hundred years later, Holmes has stood the test of time like few others, earning the title of the most portrayed fictional character in film and television. As of this writing (2019), the love for Holmes has not waned in the slightest, with the latest incarnation being two vastly different takes on the character: a 21st century Japanese woman, and a ridiculous caricature in a Christmas comedy.

This, let us say, series of articles aim to dissect the Sherlock Holmes stories in order to answer the questions of why this particular figure and the surrounding mythos has stood the test of time, and why the abstract concept of the great detective manages to keep marching forward with no signs of stopping. In doing so, there is scope to unearth something deeper about the human psyche, as many people and cultures across the world have adapted and transformed Holmes to fit in with their own traditions, whether it be in Russia (Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона) or even Bangladesh (আমাদের শার্লক হোমস্).

As there is much ground to cover for the task at hand, the analysis will be split into two major sections. Section A will aim to dissect the mythos to unearth what made the Sherlock Holmes stories so appealing in the first place. This will require a close reading of the original canon as well as taking history and context into consideration. In addition, biographical criticism will be utilized in order to draw out some details of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s real life experience(s) that led to the conception of his famous stories. Section B will take a macro look at the character in order to answer for his relevancy throughout the ages. This section will be more analytical, even philosophical in its approach, and will utilize methodologies of deconstruction and Freudian psychoanalysis in order to test the claims that will be made. Hopefully, by the end of the entire discussion, a clearer image will have been painted of the great detective, his stories, legacy and everything else that he entails.

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