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Tony Grist

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Me For Sherlock [Nov. 23rd, 2009|10:30 am]
Tony Grist
There's a game they play on the Book Show, where they ask their writerly guests which character in fiction they'd most like to be. Last night I caught an episode where Ben Elton opted for Bertie Wooster because he is so sunny. Apparently in an earlier episode Seamus Heaney chose Jeeves.

So who would I like to be? The answer that immediately pops into my head is Sherlock Holmes. Really? Yes, really. Most of the people in books who aren't Mary Sues are sorry and suffering individuals- victims or one thing or another, or forced to jump through hoops in order to learn Life's Big Lesson. Holmes, it further occurs to me, is the only fully convincing portrait of a genius in fiction. I can't think of another. Can you?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2009-11-23 11:59 am (UTC)
That sounds like an excellent game - I should seek out that episode, as I love Ben Elton and Bertie Wooster about equally.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-23 12:22 pm (UTC)
I can imagine Elton playing Bertie Wooster- just. Heaney as Jeeves is a tougher proposition.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2009-11-23 02:51 pm (UTC)
I think I have to agree with you. I sat here and thought and thought and can't come up with a better example of a genius in fiction.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-23 04:23 pm (UTC)
The thing about genius is that it singular and extraordinary- and only someone who is singular and extraordinary him/herself could possibly invent such a being.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-11-23 04:30 pm (UTC)
I'm really looking forward to the new Sherlock Holmes movie that is coming out soon.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-23 05:19 pm (UTC)
The one with Robert Downey Jnr? I'm not sure....

For me the definitive Holmes is Jeremy Brett- and I find it hard to accept anyone else in the role.

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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-11-23 05:32 pm (UTC)
Oh it will be different, but I still look forward to it.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2009-11-24 02:23 am (UTC)
For me the definitive Holmes is Jeremy Brett- and I find it hard to accept anyone else in the role.

Amen. And David Burke the definitive Watson.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-24 08:54 am (UTC)
I agree with that. I'm sorry he stepped down. He was the first actor- in my experience- not to play Watson as a bit of a clot.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2009-11-23 06:08 pm (UTC)
Apparently in an earlier episode Seamus Heaney chose Jeeves.

I wouldn't have expected that . . .

The answer that immediately pops into my head is Sherlock Holmes. Really? Yes, really.

Nice.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-23 07:18 pm (UTC)
I read somewhere recently that W.B. Yeats had an equally surprising taste for Westerns.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2009-11-24 02:25 am (UTC)
I read somewhere recently that W.B. Yeats had an equally surprising taste for Westerns.

And Lorenzo Da Ponte ended up in Brooklyn.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-24 08:56 am (UTC)
Imagine if Mozart had lived long enough to go with him!
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From: mamadar
2009-11-23 06:35 pm (UTC)
One character who occurs to me is Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan, but I'm not sure he'd meet your definition of genius. Miles is a highly intelligent and charismatic man who overcomes severe physical handicaps in a culture far more "able-ist" than ours; he's a brilliant military tactician/strategist, but his real gift may be for making people fall for him and turning them loose to do what they're good at.

He's also, at times, a neurotic mess. *g*
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-23 07:20 pm (UTC)
Sounds interesting. I must look him up on Wikipedia.
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From: mamadar
2009-11-23 07:21 pm (UTC)
The earlier M.V. books are military space opera, but the later ones, as Miles's relationship predicaments come to the fore, are really comedy of manners. Identity, IMO, is the over-arching theme of the series.
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[User Picture]From: brttvns
2009-11-23 07:15 pm (UTC)
He was always my childhood hero, and still remains a cracking read. Also I have to agree that the definitive screen Holmes was Jeremy Brett (the only one, for me, who has played Holmes as he was written). Have you read producer Michael Cox's A Study in Celluloid? I recommended it if you're a fan.

Other geniuses in fiction - well, George MacDonald Fraser's take on Flashman being so highly decorated but being a coward and a cad is down to luck I suppose (good fun though).

Poe's Dupin?

Wodehouse's Jeeves? More of a walking encyclopedia perhaps.

Interesting question.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-23 07:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tip. I'll go looking for that book.

Dupin is just naked intellect- and not a rounded character like Holmes.

Jeeves is a wonderful comic creation, but he exists- and can only exist- in the highly artificial world of Wodehouse. Holmes, on the other hand, is so convincing that many people have believed him to be "real".
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[User Picture]From: brttvns
2009-11-23 07:35 pm (UTC)
True - Holmes is a rounded character, genius and flawed. I know some people have thought Holmes to be real, but Jeeves? Nothing can be accepted as real in Wodehouse's wonderful world, surely.

A Study in Celluloid is out of print, I think, but I found mine on ebay about two years ago. Well worth finding, every episode is sperated into chapters. Also there is 'Bending the Willow - Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes' by David Stuart Davis, again, may be difficult to find.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-23 08:42 pm (UTC)
I'll ask for it at the public library. If a book exists anywhere in the system, they'll track it down for you.
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