Don’t they read Sherlock Holmes?

Don’t their parents?

Because if they had – either of the above – today’s teenagers wouldn’t need to sit there and watch Sherlock on television, hearts in their mouths, ‘in case he dies.’ Honestly!

Or could it be they didn’t watch in the company of their parents, and if so, where were they? It’s gratifying that teenagers want to watch the Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss Sherlock. All is not lost. But surely parents would want to watch as well? And wouldn’t they be aware that Sherlock Holmes didn’t die that time? Even if they hadn’t read the books.

It’s all my fault for being friends on facebook with someone young. It’s where I learned that they really thought Sherlock might pop his clogs forever. Maybe I’m wrong in watching the same programmes as Offspring? Worse, I gave Son the ten volume Sherlock Holmes collection quite a few years ago.

Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes

I think he thought they were children’s books. I certainly thought they were, when I was a child. Some of them definitely appeared in children’s books ‘livery’ in Sweden. (Like Dickens and Scott.)

Back to the weekend’s television. Even Daughter knew he wouldn’t die. (Sorry for any spoilers, btw.) The Resident IT Consultant and I were slightly disappointed when Sherlock was seen to be less than dead at the end, having hoped that a few people might be left on a cliffhanger. Just didn’t expect the potential cliffhangers-on to be quite as many.

So, just as well Benedict Cumberbatch was seen to be with us still, or we could have had a massive bout of teen tears. I’m reminded of the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice, where viewers were surprised to learn they could read the book and find out the ‘would they or wouldn’t they’ in advance of the next Sunday.

Did the – more general – reading of Sherlock Holmes end with my generation? Or is it simply that today’s teenagers don’t actually discuss Sherlock with their ancient parents? In fact, the parents might have assumed the children already knew the Holmes story.

The thing is, unlike some classics, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories aren’t hard to read. Quite user friendly, really. And the Resident IT Consultant and I found that we had both happened to read The Return of Sherlock Holmes before the book where he ‘died.’ Which was confusing, but you can manage if you need to.

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21 responses to “Don’t they read Sherlock Holmes?

  1. It’s not ‘will he die?’ – or at least it wasn’t in our house. It’s ‘how will they explain the fact that he didn’t die, given that we saw him jump and go splat on the pavement?’

  2. Ours too, Keren…I’m thinking it’s something to do with the little abduced girl screaming coz she’d seen ‘him’ before…

  3. And his comment to Molly about how he needed her help. And the cyclist…the laundry van…

  4. I’ve read the books a few times, but Stephen Moffat, Cumberbatch, et al implied that they might veer off canon and kill Sherlock for real – lots of hints at no third season. So while I knew Sherlock is not really meant to die in his face-off with Moriarty, there was some suspense that that might change in the BBC version. Luckily, season 3 has been confirmed!

  5. As for the original stories, they may be short and easy to consume, but they’re pretty dry when compared to writing today. I’m not surprised kids aren’t reading them as much, (though I grew up with them).

  6. And yet, enjoyment of the TV series has sent my 13 year old son straight off to read the originals.

  7. Glad to hear that, Juliet. It’s what films and television should do.

    I reckon Sherlock had long left the roof when talking to Watson, and Molly was there to throw Moriarty down, after which Sherlock knocked into Watson on his bike…

  8. I thought it was lovely stuff – makes me want to re-read the books all the more (I bought a rather lush hardbound copy for my friend last year and I think I’m inclined to borrow it rather than thumb the well-worn penguin volumes I have!)

    As said earlier in comments by Dayspring Jubilee, they’d done all they could to suggest there may not be more adaptations/re-workings/re-imaginings, but even so I was still not sure even when I saw BC after the grave scene. I mean, he could have been our projection – the survival in our minds of the Holmes that was. (I was unaware of there even being a commissioned 3rd series til said friend – GRR – told me the news was all over Twitter).

    Sigh. Oh well, all ways round very good and inspiring for readers and those not yet familiar with the original stories.

  9. True, the third series was a bit of a giveaway. Perhaps we can project Mr Cumberbatch through several more? I think they keep quiet about more series partly to tease us and partly because the decision might not have been made.

    I think the Penguin volumes are wonderful. I don’t like holding big fat hardbacks.

  10. so he didn´t die?
    Actually I think most of my students knew, but then they are clever people who knew beforehand who Hamlet was. They also suspected something was rotten about his late father´s death – but that may be because they have sussed I´d never let them read a book with no crimes in it.

  11. Sherlock on the bicycle! We didn’t think of that in our family. The mystery that interests me most is why BC is so attractive when he’s not really your dreamboat material. Or is that just me (can’t be). My daughter says she would marry Watson in a minute, which warms the cockles of my heart. Don’t have to worry about what she brings home, then.

  12. I loved BC the first time I saw him (Marple, I think). Since then I feel nothing special when I see him…

  13. tv/movie reviewers don’t seem to have read the originals – they all seem to think Watson’s injuries in a war in Afghanistan are a modernisation, which drives me crazy. Glad to hear the second series has aired in the UK. Now waiting hopefully for it to come down ASAP to NZ

  14. I watched the last few minutes again. Sherlock definitely just throws his phone down and jumps with no opportunity to throw anyone down; and it is not him on the bike. I reckon he jumps into the laundry truck, and while John is knocked out, slips down to the sidewalk and Molly plants the blood around his head. He is very insistent about John standing in a certain place; evidently to make the illusion work. Though there is also something about the little girl screaming when she sees Sherlock; perhaps Moriarty uses a mask at some point.

    The third season was commissioned the same time as the second, but the cast and crew kept that quiet to add to the tension of whether Sherlock would survive.

    Cumberbatch has a unique gift – one of his directors noted that he can be attractive if the part calls for it, or take on any other characteristic written into his role – I think that’s pretty much the size of it. Charisma and talent.

  15. Dayspring, that is so good of you! The amount of suffering you put up with to set facts right.
    Yes, I wonder if BC could make me fall in love with him? I find his Sherlock beautifully aspie in character.

  16. Well, someone had to do it! Can’t wait for season 3 to come out so I can see if I’m right!

    First noticed BC in “The Last Enemy”, a pretty dull BBC miniseries. Disliked the show but found him strangely compelling. I also thought he had the most bizarre face. Testament to his great acting and Sherlock’s great scripts, that I now think it’s bizarre in a good way! 🙂

    What does aspie mean?

  17. Oops, just noticed your ‘aspie’ section! I hadn’t heard that as a term before. But yes, agree with your analysis.

  18. Glad you could cope on your own.

  19. Ah, Benedict Cumberbatch…

    Sorry, started daydreaming there. Oh, and a quick office poll suggested that his voice plays a fairly major role in the attraction. Plus the coat in Sherlock.

    I read Sherlock Holmes fairly young (library copies, and then thanks to Dad for the complete works – for a non-reader he’s always been a good book shopper) , and I’ve actually been teaching some of the stories this semester – most of my students hadn’t read any. The couple who had were older than the standard “student” age. But my non-native speakers all found the writing to be pretty accessible (substantially more so than Chesterton, Christie and Sayers, to whom they’ve also been subjected) and seemed to agree that the stories are still readable today.

    Am waiting for the DVD, since I don’t know when series 2 will air here.

  20. I was also surprised at how meany people seemed suirprised that (a) he appeared to die and (b) wasn’t actually dead.

    I agree that the ‘how did they do that’ was the most fascinating bit. I think he jumped (he was flailing on the way down, so not Moriarty’s corpse with a mask) into the back of the truck (set up before hand with the help of Molly / Mycroft/ teh homeless network, or possibly into the kind of trampoline that firefighters have, held by members of the homeless network, with the truck hiding it from Watson)

    Molly then helped him to switch in Moriarty’s body so there was a body for any inquest, to be buried etc, and also switched about any DNA samples whjich mayh have been required.

    I think the cyclist was there to distract Watson.

    And yes, I’ve been loving the series, and I think that Martin Freeman as Watson was fantastic, particularly in this last episode. I can’t wait for the next series. I’ll have to make do with rewatching S1 until then.

  21. Hello, I´m 18 and I could be one of these last ,,mohycans” who can not imagine life without books and choose not to sleep just to finish a book. Plus, Sherlock Holmes has a special place in my hearth. It´s someone me and my mum both adore. We´ve red all his stories hundreds of times and we love to discuss everything again and again…( I came across this serie just few days ago and I felt in love with it. I´ve never imagined Sherlock as young dark haired men, but, Benedict C. 😀 has this special charm which works on every spectator and I can no more think about Sherlock and not to imagine him. ) I have to tell I loved the Reichenbach fall, it´s was so perfect and… different from the book…
    I´m really looking forward to see third season.
    And please, don´t be so severe with ,,our children” They don´t know yet what´s good 😀

    (and yeah, sorry about my English, it´s not my first language as you can see .DD)

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