I've been reading The Eight by Katherine Neville, a complicated conspiracy novel that pre-dates Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. I've marveled at how many historic characters Neville managed to include or mention in the novel: Marat, Robespierre, Talleyrand, Jaques-Louis David, Ben Franklin, Jefferson, Wordsworth, Blake, James Boswell, Rousseau, Napoleon, Catherine the Great, Bach, the mathematician Euler, Benedict Arnold, and on and on. The French Revolution, modern and historic chess players, the Freemasons, OPEC are all included.
It's pretty silly, really--shifting from the period of the French Revolution to the 1980's and back again with a grand and ancient conspiracy of good versus evil in which almost every historic personage has played a part.
Today, I picked up the book A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age by Alan Jacobs. Coincidentally:
1) the epigraph is a quote from W.H Auden, and I am currently rereading The Dyer's Hand, essays and lectures by Auden, and
2) the introduction includes references to Boswell, Blake, and Rousseau, although certainly not in the line of the fantastic conspiracy of The Eight, but rather in the sense that the three were famous essayists.
I've just finished The House of Silk, a modern Sherlock Holmes mystery. Holmes and Watson are always fun; Laurie King writes my favorite modern Holmes' stories featuring Mary Russell, but I've also enjoyed Carolyn Douglas' Irene Adler series.
Sherlock Holmes is well-represented in both films and television. The British television series with Jeremy Brett and some of the old movies with Basil Rathbone have great atmosphere. In sharp contrast, the new series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbach, features a modern Sherlock who uses cell phones and texting.
I'm planning to watch Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes tonight. Even if the reviews were pretty bad, it will be fun to watch Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law--I hope.
On my list of Holmesian books/movies: They Might Be Giants (a 1971 film in which George C. Scott imagines himself to be Holmes) and The Final Solution by Michael Chabon. I like Chabon and don't know how I missed this one.