The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes

I’ve mentioned my love of the Sherlock Holmes stories before[1], but this is perhaps a sign that I may be taking them a little too seriously. What we have here, spread over three very large hardback volumes is perhaps the ultimate, definitive edition of the stories.

Let’s start with the presentation. The first part to be issued was the complete short stories – two hefty volumes in a slipcase, which were followed by the four novels in a similarly hefty volume in its own slipcase. All three books are large, well bound hardbacks, printed on very good paper, with exceptionally clear print. In short, a high quality production. But as the stories can be had for a great deal less money than this, there would have to be a lot more on offer before I’d buy this kind of edition.[2]

What we have here is some serious scholarship. Oh yes. There is a whole body of what is generally known as Sherlockian study, that is based on the conceit that Holmes and Watson were real people, that the stories were only edited and presented by Conan Doyle, and that names and places in the stories have occasionally been changed to avoid embarrassing the real people involved. Now you might think that’s all a bit silly, and you might even be right. But, when done properly, it’s a lot of fun.

And this has indeed been done properly. There are lots and lots of illustrations – some of the drawings that accompanied various editions of the stories, contemporary pictures of the locations mentioned, book cover illustrations, film posters, and more. There are various articles and appendices and notes on sources of the stories. All of which would be very nice, but still wouldn’t be enough to justify buying these books.

But the main feature is the incredibly detailed notes that accompany each story. Given the large page size, it’s been possible to run the footnotes[3] in a column alongside the text, making it much easier to refer to them while reading without all that tedious flipping backwards and forwards that is so often necessary with annotated books. The notes are really impressive. They cover such things as

  • Differences between various printings – some small and not so small changes in the text
  • Definitions of words and phrases used that may not be familiar to modern readers
  • Long asides on things mentioned – such as a brief history of typewriters in The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Comments on the events in the stories, with reference to numerous Sherlockians
  • And much more

OK, you’d have to be a serious fan of Sherlock Holmes to buy these books. But if you are, I think you’d enjoy them enormously.

[1] Good grief! Was it that long ago? Doesn’t time fly, or something…
[2] Don’t get me wrong, I do like nicely bound and printed books, but I won’t normally pay this kind of money for something I could have at a fraction of the price.
[3] And you know how much I like those :grin: [4]
[4] Hi Twisty!!! :wave:

4 thoughts on “The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes

  1. Pingback: Sherlockiana @ » Klinger reviews at Losing It

  2. Les Post author

    And I know how much you love footnotes. So what does that say about you? The comment above yours is actually a link from another site, and they show up in a different colour to make them stand out a bit. I don’t get a lot of them, so I like to make the most of them.

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