Większość z nas uwielbia zaczytywać się w powieściach detektywistycznych, których  fabuła, pełna tajemnic i intryg jest dla nas pewnego rodzaju wyzwaniem. O wciągającym świecie Sherlocka Holmesa, stworzonym przez Arthura Conana Doyle, opowie nam dzisiaj Kinga Mokrzycka z klasy 4a (akurat dzisiaj pisze maturę z języka angielskiego! pozdrawiamy!) Zapraszamy do lektury!
Tekst pojawi się w letnim wydaniu naszej szkolnej gazetki anglojęzycznej AimHigh.


 There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colorless skein of life, and we must unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”- Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: „A Study in Scarlet

 I’m sure you’ve heard about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes- even if you have never read any of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. Holmes is commonly known among people- no matter what age or social status they own. This phenomenon is astonishing; since 1887 (release date of „A Study in Scarlet”) Doyle’s stories have enjoyed constant popularity.

However, to talk about the influence of Sherlock Holmes on culture, we have to start by defining the occurrence and the beginnings of detective fiction as a literary genre. According to the rules of this category, a detective (lat. detego- to reveal, disclose, detect) conducts an investigation, gradually revealing the circumstances of the crime to finally identify the perpetratorAt a fundamental level, a novel of this type must include the figure of a detective, a mystery (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a crime!), and a jigsaw (which is solved during the investigation).

The idea of a detective novel is already defined, but where and why did it even come from? The beginnings of this genre (like any other) are intricate. It is hard to find which novel is the prototype of detective fiction. According to researchersit may be William Godwin’s story „Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams” (1794). This novel presents a critique of aristocratic privileges, and in the background an investigation takes place. In the XVIII century appeared a gothic novel (especially Edgar Allan Poe, but also Horace Walpole or Ann Radcliffe); in this genre, an investigation intertwined with the supernatural forces. In the XIX century due to migration and urbanization, crime in cities increased significantly. This causes a growing fascination with the investigation, crime, and its circumstances, pursuit of the  perpetrators, policemen’s routine, and others. In addition to this, there was a need to precisely determine the identity of the criminal and keep lists of crimes- due to this, a breakthrough in solving crimes appeared. All of this at length had an impact on the development and formation of this genre.

 After this long introduction, I would like to give attention to the previously mentioned Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. In this case, everything started at the ophthalmologist clinic. Doyle (1859-1930) in 1881 graduated from medical studies in Edinburgh and opened his practice. About 1890 he completely devoted himself to the literature and studies of spiritualism and paranormal phenomena. He wrote detective novels (such as „Sherlock Holmes”), but also historical (for example „Brigadier Gerard”) or fantasy and science fiction (as stories about Professor Challenger- e.g. „The Lost World”).

 series „The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” was published from July 1891 to June 1892 (12 stories) in the magazine „The Strand”. At first, the magazine published 300,000 copies, but in the next years, this number increased to 500,000 copies. „Sherlock Holmes” gained enormous popularity already from the beginning. Doyle’s stories caused a change in the attitude of the conservative middle class towards the detective novel as a genre. Holmes became an icon of the Victorian elite- he was known among poor populations as well as rich burgesses, landed gentry, and aristocracy.

 As far as I’m concerned, in Arthur Doyle’s stories the main problem isn’t the crime or investigation, but the idea of evil which is in the human’s soul. These novels also take up the topic of free will (or lack thereof) while making choices among good and wrong, history, religious customs, the immorality of society, dual personality (disclosure alter ego), and reasons why a seemingly simple and calm person becomes a cruel murderer. Doyle uses themes such as mirrors, nature, doppelgangers, or personification of evil. In addition to this, the author also creates an image of the colonial world; especially India (in „The Sign of Four”) and New World- USA (in „The Valley of Fear” or „A Study in Scarlet”) what consist the picture of the real world of that time.

 The success and timelessness of „Sherlock Holmes” stories caused that there were many imitators of convention created by Doyle. Detective fiction became popular and recognizable; Doyle established the stereotype of character as well as genre. One of the most popular detectives which has been created after Holmes is Arsene Lupin (Maurice Leblanc,1905). He is also a detective- gentlemen. Another well-known character is Herkules Poirot by Agatha Christie (1920). What is obvious, many more characters were based on the most famous detective. Sherlock Holmes is the protagonist of many movies, series, comics, cartoons, theatre plays, and even computer games. Over the years it has become an icon of pop culture. The fact that Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are still readable, commonly known, liked, and adapted is a confirmation of the influence that had an impact on culture. Kinga Mokrzycka 4a