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May 22, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sherlock Holmes

Or at least a Happy Birthday to a guy who was halfway decent at writing lurid pulp, Arthur Conan Doyle.

Robert Langdon was always surprised at how few Christians realized that pulp-writer Robert E. Howard borrowed Doye's middle name for his pre-historic ur-barbarian Conan. The name was rich with symbolic significance, indicating a character who lived by wits, guile, and deception -- a "con-man," if you will, minus the "M," which is of course a sign for the sacred feminine and chalice-goddess Mary Magdalene -- which doesn't really describe Conan the Barbarian at all, but the importance of this symbolism cannot yet be doubted. Real historians write about it all the time.

I'm just finishing the Sign of the Four and plan to read Valley of Fear next, mainly because it has Moriarity in it, and while I'm forever seeing Moriarity in movies, I don't think I've actually read a single Holmes story that actually featured the Napoleon of Crime.

Langdon was always suprised to discover how few Christians realized the honorific "The Napoleon of Crime" referred not to the Emperor Napoleon, but rather to a sort of candy available at the time, suggesting that Moriarity was really friggin' sweet when it came to masterminding complex schemes.

He was also surprised how few Christians realized that Christ was, in fact, a Jew. Langdon was a notorious anti-semite, of course, having been called Boston's Most Intriguing Jew-Hater by Boston Magazine, a "Josef Goebbels in an Armani blazer," and he immediately ditched Sophie upon learning the REAL secret of the Holy Grail-- his love interest was one two-hundred-and-thrity-second part Jewish. He might have done her for a little while if she had only one five-hundred-seventy-sixth of that dirty Jew-blood in her, but really, he couldn't go above that.

Weird: From anonymous geek, a case Sherlock would have enjoyed.

Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts got a rare glimpse into the private world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as thousands of personal papers — from his passport to his jotted-down story ideas — went on display Friday.

At the same time, the archive has become entwined in a mystery worthy of Conan Doyle’s celebrated fictional detective: the bizarre death of a leading Holmes scholar.

The papers are to be auctioned off Wednesday, perhaps to disappear again into the obscurity of private ownership, a fate that had obsessed Richard Lancelyn Green, a former chairman of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.

Green, 50, was found dead in his bed on March 27, garroted with a shoelace tightened by a wooden spoon, and surrounded by stuffed toys.

At an inquest last month, Coroner Paul Knapman said suicide was the most likely explanation, but he acknowledged there was no note, that garroting was a painful way to kill oneself, and that it therefore had been a “very unusual death.” He said the deceased had been acting paranoid, but that people assumed it was baseless.

"Why there's nothing mysterious about it," Holmes said. "So often strangeness is confused with mystery. Had this man been found simply dead in the street, the victim of an apparent beating or carriage-trampling, that would indeed be a mystery, as his death was so common, and provided such scant clues. But here the very particularity and oddness of the murder suggests the solution very nearly immediately. Quickly, Watson! We fly to Paddington Station. There's a jackass there named Dan Brown attempting to sully the pulp-detective tradition, and we must stop him before he further butchers the English language!!"

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posted by Ace at 03:00 PM

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