Sunday, June 14, 2020

Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes in the Dublin Steamer Passenger Lists.


“I shall be very happy to introduce you to two curiosities.” [GREE]

Every literary landscape has its pleasant vales, inspirational heights, sparse scrubland and downright treacherous ground for study. The Shakespearean scholar treads with special caution over the tricky terrain of the dramatist's life. It is a brave Sherlockian who ventures upon the Grimpen Mire of chronology with regard to the detective's cases.

While the simple order of publication is unquestionable, such is the characteristic narrative approach in Watson's chronicles that Chinese boxes of time are constructed of Milvertonian complexity. The reader is rarely sure just when the good doctor has sat down to write or how long had elapsed since the events narrated took place. Typically also, clients and others recount at length events (and third person accounts) compounding a generic timeline uncertainty arising from the unreliable memories of Watson and his literary agent, Conan Doyle. Rare are the moments of temporal clarity: it comes as a relief to know precisely where Sherlock Holmes was on the 2nd of August, 1914.

Hitherto, the canon has been the sole source of information about the activities of Sherlock Holmes. Now, however, (much as public records of obscure legal cases have shed light on Shakespeare) Victorian bureaucratic thoroughness may be thanked for references in Irish newspapers that confirm the presence of the Holmes brothers in Dublin on two occasions in the late 1890's.
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