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Friday, February 10, 2012

In Progress

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.


  1. Jenclair, I love the Laurie King books too!!! They are wonderful! Enjoy Sherlock Holmes. I liked both of them but I loved the first one more.

  2. The Dyer's Hand has been on my TBR list for some time - just need some cash to buy it! People keep recommending Laurie King to me, so maybe I'll get one from the library when I take books back later today.

  3. I had never heard of Laurie King before but now I looked her up and she sounds like someone I would like a lot. Thanks for the suggestions.
    I enjoyed the BBC mini-series quite a bit. I thought it worked well in modern day London.

  4. Sherri - Laurie King came up with a winner in Mary Russell, didn't she? I like her depiction of Mycroft, too. Didn't get to watch the movie last night after all, but I will be watching it soon.

    ChrisCross - Stefanie (So Many Books) has been reading The Dyer's Hand and posting about it; she reminded me how much I'd enjoyed the essays years ago, so I searched for my copy. Auden is both erudite and down-to-earth--a pleasure to read.

    Caroline - Laurie King does a good job re-visiting Holmes, but instead of imitating Watson's style of story-telling, she lets Mary Russell recount the adventures of Holmes' later life. The adventures have a more feminine view point and are more expansive. Great fun.

  5. A Visit to Vanity Fair sounds interesting. I love the new Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch!

  6. Stefanie - I'm not enjoying these essays as much as I'd hoped. They are less about literature and more about religion, and Jacobs has a decided view on his subject matter.

    :) I love the new Sherlock series, too.

  7. Always a pleasure to meet a Holmesian!

    Did you like 'The House of Silk'. Anthony Horowitz is a great writer. I too liked this pastiche.

    Check out my review .