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Hound of the Baskervilles (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

Hound of the Baskervilles (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

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Hound of the Baskervilles (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)

Длина:
226 страниц
3 часа
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Издано:
15 мар. 2011 г.
ISBN:
9781411435049
Формат:
Книга

Описание

When one of the members of the Baskerville family suddenly dies, Sherlock Holmes arrives on the scene with his assistant Holmes to investigate. Has the notorious Baskerville family curse struck again … or, is another suspect at bay? Using acute deductive logic and uncanny observation, Detective Holmes unravels the mystery in this hair-raising classic.

Издатель:
Издано:
15 мар. 2011 г.
ISBN:
9781411435049
Формат:
Книга

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Hound of the Baskervilles (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I was aware of a bushy black beard and a pair of piercing eyes turned upon us

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES

SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

INTRODUCTION BY JAMES HYNES

Introduction and Suggested Reading

© 2009 by Barnes & Noble, Inc.

This 2011 edition published by Barnes & Noble, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.

Barnes & Noble, Inc.

122 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10011

ISBN: 978-1-4114-3504-9

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

I. MR. SHERLOCK HOLMES

II. THE CURSE OF THE BASKERVILLES

III. THE PROBLEM

IV. SIR HENRY BASKERVILLE

V. THREE BROKEN THREADS

VI. BASKERVILLE HALL

VII. THE STAPLETONS OF MERRIPIT HOUSE

VIII. FIRST REPORT OF DR. WATSON

IX. THE LIGHT UPON THE MOOR

X. EXTRACT FROM THE DIARY OF DR. WATSON

XI. THE MAN ON THE TOR

XII. DEATH ON THE MOOR

XIII. FIXING THE NETS

XIV. THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES

XV. A RETROSPECTION

SUGGESTED READING

INTRODUCTION

PERHAPS THE MOST FAMOUS MYSTERY NOVEL IN LITERARY HISTORY, The Hound of the Baskervilles shows both its author, Arthur Conan Doyle, and his two heroes, the detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson, at the peak of their powers. The plot cleverly combines a centuries-old curse, family secrets, romantic betrayals, lurid violence, and an undercurrent of gothic horror. The characters are quickly and vividly etched, the prose is muscular and efficient, and the novel's evocation of Dartmoor, the brooding moorland in the southeast of England, has helped make the region a watchword for mystery and danger. Holmes himself displays nearly the full range of his character, from his patented mental acrobatics, to his calculating secretiveness when he's on the hunt, to the manly dynamism of the Victorian action hero. Dr. Watson is in equally fine form, stalwart, loyal, and brave, providing invaluable aid with the investigation, even when he doesn't know what's really going on. The Hound of the Baskervilles was a hit from the day of its publication in 1901, and it remains immensely popular a century later.

Part of the mythology surrounding Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories is the intriguing contrast between the author and his most famous creation. Holmes is a coldly cerebral Englishman with not much use for other people or other interests outside of his criminal casework, while Conan Doyle was a hearty, good-humored, gregarious, and often impulsive man with a wide range of pursuits and a capacity for deep and enduring passions. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 22, 1859, into an impoverished branch of a Catholic family that was well connected in London literary and artistic circles. His English father, Charles, was an irresponsible drunk, while his Irish mother, Mary, was a lively woman who essentially raised her family alone and imbued her favorite son, Arthur, with a love of storytelling. Young Arthur's promise won him a scholarship to a Jesuit school, where he impressed his classmates with both his prowess at cricket and his ability to enthrall them with stories. Conan Doyle went on to earn a medical degree at the University of Edinburgh, and after serving briefly as a surgeon on an Arctic whaler and as a medical officer on a merchant ship, he opened a private practice in a suburb of Portsmouth in 1882. In 1885, he married Louisa Hawkins, the sister of a former patient.

Another part of the Holmes mythology is that the great detective would never have been born if his creator's medical career had been successful, but that may be overstating the case. Conan Doyle had already published a few stories and completed a draft of his first novel by the time he created Sherlock Holmes, and he continued working as a doctor for several years after the first Holmes stories were published. But it is true that he dreamed up the world's first consulting detective while waiting for patients who never came. The eccentric and analytical Holmes was inspired in part by Conan Doyle's medical school professor, Dr. Joseph Bell, who could deduce a man's profession and personal history simply from close observation; Holmes also owes something to Conan Doyle's familiarity with Edgar Allan Poe's fictional French detective, C. Auguste Dupin, and with the fictionalized memoirs of a real French detective, Eugene Francois Vidocq. From these influences, Sherlock Holmes was born fully formed in A Study in Scarlet, which chronicles the meeting and first case of Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson, an injured veteran of the Afghan War and the narrator of almost all the Holmes stories. Published in 1887, this long story was so successful in Britain and the United States that an American editor commissioned a second Holmes story, The Sign of Four, which was published to even more success in 1890. By now, Sherlock Holmes was a sensation, and in 1891, Conan Doyle quit his medical practice to write full time, quickly becoming the most popular author in the Strand Magazine. The magazine's owner reckoned that Conan Doyle's name on the cover was worth an extra one hundred thousand sales per issue, and the author himself, a talented and energetic man from a background of poverty, seized the opportunity with both hands. Producing an impressive three thousand words a day, Conan Doyle took only a week to conceive and write each Sherlock Holmes story, and he published twelve of them in the Strand between 1891 and 1892, which were then collected in the best seller The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Right from the start, though, Conan Doyle never thought much of his own most famous creation. He had ambitions to write literary fiction and win a serious reputation, and between 1888 and 1893, while the Holmes mania was at its peak, he also published several historical novels which he considered to be much more substantial than his detective stories. As early as 1891, only four years after A Study in Scarlet, Conan Doyle wrote to his mother that he was thinking of killing off Sherlock Holmes, and two years later, in December of 1893, he published The Final Problem, the last in a second series of Holmes stories in the Strand, in which Holmes and his archenemy, the master criminal Professor Moriarty, fall to their deaths from the top of Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. The reading public was instantly heartbroken—twenty thousand angry readers cancelled their subscriptions to the Strand—but Conan Doyle, who was already wealthy, didn't care. Over the next decade he not only continued to write many successful books and non-Holmes stories, he lived an unusually full life for such a prolific author, working as a war correspondent in Egypt, serving as an army doctor during the Boer War, and running unsuccessfully for Parliament. He also maintained a passionate though celibate relationship with a young woman, Jean Leckie, until his wife died of tuberculosis in 1906. He and Miss Leckie were married the following year.

In the meantime, though, he continued to be besieged with requests to bring Sherlock Holmes back from the dead, and in 1901 he finally resurrected him, though in a rather backhand fashion. In March of that year, Conan Doyle went golfing with a young journalist, Bertram Fletcher Robinson, and Robinson told him of an old Devonshire legend about a huge, demonic black dog that haunted the lonely roads of Dartmoor. The macabre appeal of the legend was reinforced after Conan Doyle spent eight days at Robinson's home near Dartmoor, and the two men tramped all over the moorland, walking as far as fourteen miles a day. Now a national park, Dartmoor is a 368-square-mile granite uplift that rises broodingly above the surrounding Devonshire countryside, encompassing wide expanses of treeless peat, treacherous bogs or mires, and weather-sculpted outcrops of rock known as tors. As if this landscape weren't mysterious enough, Dartmoor boasts the stark ruins of ancient inhabitants, including Neolithic standing stones and circles of stone huts from the early Bronze Age. It is also the habitat of the wild Dartmoor ponies, and then, as now, it is home to the gloomy Dartmoor Prison. All of this fired the imagination of Conan Doyle, the popular entertainer. To the legend of the monster dog and the mysterious landscape he added a further element: a curse brought down on the noble Baskerville family by the bad behavior of one of its dissolute ancestors. He wrote his editor at the Strand, Herbert Greenhough Smith, that he had a real creeper of a tale to be called The Hound of the Baskervilles.

One element the story did not have in it at first, though, was Sherlock Holmes, and Conan Doyle brought him back finally for two reasons. One was artistic necessity: he needed a strong central character for the story he had in mind, and with the waste-not mentality of the canny literary craftsman, he realized he already had such a character at hand; he got around Holmes' demise by setting the story in 1889, before the detective's fateful encounter at Reichenbach Falls. The other reason was pure commercial calculation. The demand for new Holmes stories was still strong seven years after his fictional death, and, as Russell Miller reveals in his recent biography of the author, Conan Doyle knew he could double his usual asking price of £50 per thousand words. As far as I can judge, the revival of Holmes would attract a great deal of attention, he wrote to Greenhough Smith. Suppose I gave the directors the alternative that [the story] should be without Holmes at my old figure or with Holmes at £100 per thou., which would they choose? The directors of the magazine readily met Conan Doyle's price, and in August of 1901, only five months after he had conceived of the idea, the first installment of The Hound of the Baskervilles was published in the Strand. The issue sold thirty thousand more copies than usual.

It begins as many of the short stories do, with Holmes and Watson at breakfast in their shared lodgings at 221B Baker Street in London. A visitor whom neither of them has met has accidentally left his walking stick behind, and Holmes, as he often does, invites Watson to reconstruct the man by an examination of the stick. Watson tries his hand at Holmes' deductive methods and, as always, gets almost everything wrong. Holmes can't resist a little affectionate condescension, telling Watson that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt. Far from being insulted, Watson admits that his words gave me keen pleasure. Here we have both men in a nutshell: Holmes has a genuine regard for Dr. Watson, but he can't help showing off, at every opportunity, just who the smartest guy in the room is, while Watson is as eager to please and slow to anger as an English sheepdog. What keeps Holmes from being completely insufferable are his genuinely astounding powers of deduction and the fact that he's almost always right. This is proven with the arrival of the stick's owner, Dr. James Mortimer, a Devonshire County practitioner whose particulars turn out to match in nearly every detail Holmes' own reconstruction from the walking stick.

With this refresher course in the relationship of Holmes and Watson concluded, the story begins in earnest. Dr. Mortimer has come to ask Holmes to look into the death of his neighbor, Sir Charles Baskerville, who died of an apparent heart attack on the grounds of his estate at the edge of Dartmoor. Mortimer reads aloud from an old Baskerville family document that chronicles the curse of the Baskervilles, to wit, a great, black beast, shaped like a hound, yet larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested upon, with blazing eyes and dripping jaws, which has been stalking the Baskervilles for more than two hundred years. Dr. Mortimer then reveals that there is more to the death of Sir Charles than he admitted at the public inquest—namely, that near the body, he found the footprints of a gigantic hound, and that Sir Charles likely died of fright. The urgency of the matter is compounded by the arrival in England of Sir Henry Baskerville, the sole remaining heir of the Baskerville fortune, and Dr. Mortimer is desperate to ensure that what happened to Sir Charles doesn't also happen to Sir Henry. In the next few chapters, the threat takes corporeal shape: Sir Henry is tailed through the streets of London by a mysterious black-bearded man in a hansom cab, and he receives a mysterious message at his hotel warning him, As you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor. Holmes, begging prior commitments, cannot come to Devonshire immediately himself, but he sends Dr. Watson—There is no man who is better worth having at your side when you are in a tight place—in his stead, and as Watson, Mortimer, and Sir Henry travel to Dartmoor, the game, as Holmes once said in another story, is afoot.

To say more about the plot would be to deprive the first-time reader especially of the pleasures of Conan Doyle's twists and surprises. Suffice it to say that the novel's structure and technique represent a sort of template for every classic detective story written in the years since. The plot, simultaneously sturdy and sly, is made up of two intertwined strands: the story of the investigation itself, which in turn slowly reveals, clue by clue, the more complex back story that underlies the mystery. And, like many mysteries since, much of the story is told through long passages of dialogue, both by extended sessions of question-and-answer as Holmes or Watson, or both, interrogate witnesses and suspects, and by long speeches in which one character or another reveals yet another piece of the puzzle. Conan Doyle also takes full advantage of every detail of his striking setting, from the prehistoric huts to the brooding tors to the nearby prison to the treacherous mires, each of which plays an important role in the developing story.

The novel is also the template for many subsequent mysteries in that its single most interesting character is the detective himself. Although Watson encounters a number of distinctive and colorful characters upon his arrival in Devonshire—the Barrymores, the husband-and-wife head servants at Baskerville Hall; the local naturalist Stapleton and his beautiful sister; the eccentric and litigious Mr. Frankland—the outsized personality of Holmes himself eventually overshadows every other character in the story. Conan Doyle was right to ask for more money: The Hound of the Baskervilles without Sherlock Holmes would have been worth half as much, not just because only Holmes could unravel the complicated skein of the mystery, but because Holmes himself, and his curiously symbiotic relationship with Watson, is inherently fascinating regardless of whatever mystery they are trying to solve. Holmes prefers to see himself as a creature of cold reason, but in fact he is a man of hidden fires, as Watson puts it. Easily bored and prone to depression—in other stories he is revealed to be a cocaine addict—Holmes claims little interest in other people, but he is also a profoundly lonely man who craves an audience for his jaw-dropping exhibitions of deductive reasoning. Watson is the perfect companion for such a man, providing the qualities that Holmes lacks (and the stories need): in storytelling terms, Watson is the reader's surrogate, acting as a sounding board, posing the questions and provoking the explanations that Holmes provides to make the case clear. But he is also the emotional and moral grounding for the story; Holmes has an almost Old Testament sense of justice, but he's also narcissistic, high-strung, and intellectually vain, whereas Watson is compassionate, physically brave, and utterly reliable. There is an unreachable melancholy in Holmes which is assuaged partly by his dedication to criminal casework, but also by the companionship of Dr. Watson. They need each other: Holmes provides Watson with excitement, and Watson provides Holmes with affectionate patience for his eccentricities and, as the putative author of the Holmes stories, publicity. What's more, the reader needs them to need each other: besides being a compelling mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles is also an unusually striking chapter in the lengthy chronicle of one of the most fascinating and complicated friendships in literature, one that has been a model for dozens of similar detective teams through the years; the best recent example is perhaps British author Colin Dexter's irascible Inspector Morse and his plodding companion, Sergeant Lewis. And Holmes himself, the brilliant scientific diagnostician with limited social skills, is the direct ancestor of the flinty alpha male who stands aloof from the dull cops around him in each iteration of the CSI franchise of television police dramas.

A year after the publication of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Conan Doyle was knighted for his service to the nation during the Boer War, but it was rumored that King Edward really bestowed the honor by way of encouraging Conan Doyle to bring Holmes back for real. Whatever the reason, in 1903 Conan Doyle published the story The Adventure of the Empty House, which revealed that the detective had survived the fight at Reichenbach Falls, allowing Holmes and Watson to pick up where they had left off. Conan Doyle went on to publish many more books and stories, including three more collections of Holmes short stories and another Holmes novel, The Valley of Fear. Over the years, though, the quality of the Holmes stories diminished—Conan Doyle himself privately admitted as much—and perhaps even more tellingly, the difference between Conan Doyle and Holmes became even more pronounced. Despite having created one of the most skeptical characters in literary history, Conan Doyle had long been interested in spiritualism, and after his son Kingsley was killed in World War I, he became a passionate advocate for the belief that the living could communicate with the dead. He spent much of the rest of his life writing books about spiritualism and other psychic phenomena and lecturing on the subject around the world, until his death in 1930.

It doesn't take much imagination to know what Sherlock Holmes would have made of his creator's obsession with the occult. Faced with the possibility of a supernatural foe in The Hound of the Baskervilles, he tells Watson definitively that "we are bound to exhaust all other hypotheses before falling

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