When I first started reading again — voraciously, that is — post-college, the urge struck me to read the classics of the early 20th Century: Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, etc. Again and again as I made my way through the books I was surprised by the quality, the wit, the wordplay. A modernist I am through and through, but this still shouldn’t have surprised me.
Maybe it’s the font of nostalgia that rises up out of me when I read classic literature or maybe it’s the feeling that I can relive a lost youth by reading the books I missed out on as a boy, but either way these days I’ve taken to reading young adult classics, particularly Sherlock Holmes. Again the surprises abound.
For one, Watson is the main narrator, telling the stories of Holmes’ detective skills as a memoir so future generations can learn of the exploits and adventures of the world’s finest sleuth.
Also, Holmes uses the word “ejaculate” a lot, but it’s in the context of speaking. For instance, “What on earth does this mean?” I ejaculated after I had twice read over the extraordinary announcement. I can’t put into words how perplexed I was when I first read that sentence.
Also, there’s a little more violence (though most of it occurs off-screen so to speak) than I expected. Holmes and Watson regularly carry pistols and knives and more than a few times Holmes has to apprehend a villain through his apparently quite famous hand to hand combat skills.
Anyway, as I waited Friday for a ride from the county courthouse back to the office (my car was getting new tires), I had a chance to literally stop and smell the flowers. I enjoy these moments, these minutes I get where I’m thinking about very little and I can just take in the beauty of the world around me. I snapped this picture with my cell phone
and thought of this paragraph from “The Naval Treaty,” a Sherlock Holmes short story:
“There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion. It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again, we have much to hope from the flowers.”