Tag Archives: history

Holmes, Sherlock Holmes

the iconic Holmes look

Pretty much anyone who has known me in the past, oh, two or three years, knows that I’m obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. I’ve always had a love of the Victorian era, as well as intelligent, fast-paced gothic tales, but I will admit that it took reading about Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film to get me into 221B Baker Street and the rest of Holmes’ world. Since then, I’ve read every single one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about the iconic detective. And maybe it’s because I’ve been looking or maybe it’s because Robert Downey, Jr. inspired people to bring him back to life, but Sherlock is everywhere these days.

First of all, there’s a second movie called A Game of Shadows coming out at the end of this year (in which we get a lot of Moriarty action, I hear, and Stephen Fry as Mycroft(!)). The trailer is here:

Beyond Hollywood, there’s a fantastically adapted modern-day interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes stories in the form of a mini-series on the BBC (the first series was a cruelly brief three episodes, but they are currently filming a second, and to my knowledge whole, series). It’s called simply, Sherlock, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (not a name you forget easily) as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson (busy guy, what with The Hobbit filming currently as well). The show practically uses the original stories as scripts for each episode, with clever exceptions where necessary to make modern little details like transportation, technology, acquisition of knowledge, etc. Its trailer is here:

how many pipes does one man need?

And while movies and TV shows are all well and good, I much prefer pages to screens. However, as I said before, I’ve read every story. Of course, I love going back and rereading them from time to time (the novels are long enough for a day or two’s time and the stories are perfect for before-bed reading), but it’s such a fantastic moment to discover something new. And I’m waiting for two of them.

The first is released October 25th and is an anthology of stories written by popular, modern-day authors and inspired by the Holmes tales. Titled A Study in Sherlock (a play off Doyle’s first ever Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet), the collection is positively bursting with names: Alan Bradley, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, and Laura Lippman, just to name a few. I, for one, have high hopes. It was preordered weeks ago, and the countdown has finally begun.

what an enigmatic title!

The second new addition to the Holmes repertoire is a new story, written similarly to the way Doyle himself wrote his. The novel has been sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, and promises to be a thrilling story presented as if it was written by Holmes (or Watson) at the time at which the events took place, but sealed with instructions not to open it for 100 years, which I think is just the cleverest of touches. The new book is called The House of Silk; it’s written by Anthony Horowitz; and it comes out November 1st. I can’t wait.

And whatever shall I do to while away the hours as I wait? Why, plan my Halloween costume, of course. That’s right. I’m going to be Sexy Sherlock Holmes. “Can it be done?” you ask. Well, you just wait. There’s proof of that to come.

Michael Collins

I’ve never thought of myself as a cat person, but this week, I adopted a stray cat from the courtyard of my apartment. I named him Michael Collins, after the modern day Irish hero that lead the rebellion that became Ireland’s fight of Independence from England in the 1920s.

fearsome to behold

And if this Michael Collins character interests you, I offer two options for learning more: 1. You can watch the slightly Hollywood-ified version of the Easter Rising and the events that followed, known by the same name, made in 1996, and featuring Liam Neeson as MC himself; or 2. You can read Bloody Sunday, by James Gleeson, for gripping albeit nonfiction insights into the true happenings of the IRA and their battles.

this is the book

this is the cat

An Irish History

you may judge this book by its lovely, lovely cover

Frank Delaney is an eloquent and expressive literary mind. I read and relished in the dazzling, incandescent story about a storyteller, Ireland, in high school, so in 2007, when I heard about a reading/signing of his newest book, Tipperary, I jumped at the chance to hear the man himself speak. I was working at Barnes and Noble at the time and was therefore privy to readings and discussions and seminars in B&Ns all over Manhattan. I made the trek all the way uptown to the store on 82nd St. on a cool November evening. His address was as inspiring and as congenial as one ever would have hoped for from a favorite author. I even wrote down something Delaney said that day, something that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “A writer is one of three things: a teacher, a storyteller, or a magician. A good writer is a little of each.” Brilliant, brilliant man.

So I’ve had the book Tipperary by Frank Delaney on my bookshelf for some time now, and yet, I have never read it. Some people don’t understand this. Even my boyfriend wonders why I buy new books when I have so many on my shelves yet to be read. The thing is I believe very strongly that a book, especially one that could potentially have more than just a passing impact on one’s life, has a time and a place. I can’t just haphazardly select a book from my collection, and I can’t plan what I should read next. If I’m not in the mood to read nonfiction, its significance will be lost on me. If I’m stressed or anxious, a dark, laden Gothic novel is not a good fit. And if I’ve just read something light, I usually like to follow it with something important or meaningful to me.

These are most likely rules, or preferences really, followed only by me, but over the course of my lifetime of reading, I have come to realize a few things about my literary patterns. The point is this: Ireland hit me hard… in the best possible way. I haven’t been able to forget it. Tipperary needed some time to age and mature on my shelf, perhaps something like the time necessary for a fine wine.

I have finally picked it up. And what glory! I had to put the book down to copy its first few paragraphs here:

Be careful about me. Be careful about my country and my people and how we tell our history. We Irish prefer embroideries to plain cloth. If we are challenged about this tendency, we will deny it and say grimly: “We have much to remember.”

“But,” you may argue, “isn’t memory at least unreliable? And often a downright liar?”

Maybe. To us Irish, though, memory is a canvas—stretched, primed, and ready for painting on. We love the “story” part of the word “history,” and we love it trimmed out with color and drama, ribbons and bows. Listen to our tunes, observe a Celtic scroll: we always decorate our essence. This is not a matter of behavior; it is our national character.

As a consequence of this ornamenting, we are accused of revising the past. People say that we reinvent the truth, especially when it comes to the history of our famous oppression by England, the victimhood that has become our great good fortune.

And do we? Do we embellish that seven hundred years since the Norman barons sailed to our southeast shores? Do we magnify those men in silver armor, though they stood only five feet six inches tall? Do we make epic those little local wars, often fought across rivers no more than some few feet wide? Do we render monumental the tiny revolutions fought on cabbage patches by no more than dozens of men with pitchforks and slings?

Perhaps we do. And why should we not? After all, what is history but one man’s cloak cut from the beautiful cloth of Time?

Customarily, history is written by the victors; in Ireland the vanquished wrote it too and wrote it more powerfully. That is why I say, “Be careful about my country and how we tell our history.” And in this account of my life as I have so far lived it, you will also have to make up your own mind about whether I too indulge in such invention, in particular about myself.

All who write history have reasons for doing so, and there is nothing so dangerous as a history written for a reason of the heart. The deeper the reason, the more unreliable the history; that is why I say, “Be careful about me.”

The Nashville Retrospect

The Nashville Retrospect has come into my consciousness very recently. Although, from what I can tell, that’s the case for a lot of Nashvillians… at least the ones I’ve been talking to.

According the monthly newspaper itself, “The Nashville Retrospect is a monthly newspaper devoted to Nashville nostalgia and history. It features reprints of long-forgotten news, articles by local historians, and remembrances by older Nashvillians.”

And in my words, it is awesome. What a brilliantly unique idea! How fun for history lovers and citizens of Nashville alike. I’ve only flipped through two issues thus far, but what I’ve seen of it, the article collected are an easy balance of comical and serious pieces, each printed with the original location and date published. I subscribed immediately.

Below are three of the past front pages. I highly recommend that my fellow Nashvillians get with it and spread the word about this clever little window into our past.

look at the little 1910 cars!

proof of global warming: that headline would never be true today

Eleanor Roosevelt was here