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The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories (2 Vol. Set) Hardcover – Nov 16 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Sherlockians and more casual Holmes fans alike will delight in this comprehensive edition of the 56 original short adventures featuring the world's first private consulting detective. Modeling his efforts on William S. Baring-Gould's 1968 Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Klinger (The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library) packs as many extras into these two volumes as a special director's cut DVD: detailed essays on subjects as diverse as the Boer War and the history of rugby, illuminating citations to early drafts of Doyle's original manuscripts,and full discussions of the numerous theories developed over more than a century concerning ambiguities, contradictions and unresolved issues in the stories. Those new to such scholarship will be fascinated by the sophisticated multidisciplined approach, much of it based on close readings and historical research similar to Bible study. The synthesis of the commentaries will engage veteran Sherlockians, who will be able to compare hypotheses concerning, for example, the true identity of the king of Bohemia or Holmes's actual whereabouts during the Great Hiatus. First-time readers might want to skip Klinger's brief intros to each tale, as they presume familiarity with the plot and often hint strongly at the solutions. Many will prefer this to the Oxford University Press uniform edition of a decade ago.
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"These beautifully produced volumes, as big as gold-tooled church bibles, packed with cross-references and indexes, suggest Homes and Watson are not only immortal but the subject of a fanatical and crazy religion." Roger Lewis, The Sunday Express, 30 Jan 2005See all Product Description
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BUT... I was really frustrated to see that the editors had purposedly left the four canon novels out of the package in order to issue an eventual third volume with those 4 novels. This decision seems to have been made for pure commercial reasons given that nothing would have prevented a third volume could to be included. As if when you pay 110$ for a series of books, you wouldn't be willing to put an extra 30 - 40 to have it all in one box.
Oh well, at least the books themselves a beautiful and are up to the stature of the legendary Baker Street Sleuth!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The production values are stunning: the typography is elegant and clear, and despite the abundance of notes on many pages, the layout is never cluttered. It is big and heavy, but surprisingly you can actually READ this edition, which one cannot say for the Baring-Gould. And the reproductions of hundreds of period illustrations are simply the best I've ever seen in a Holmes edition. Sidney Paget (for example) has often been ill-served by muddy, contrast-less reproductions, but here they are as clean and crisp as the original materials probably permit them to be. Kudos to the photo editor!
My regrets are few. The introduction, though long and well-written, seems a bit skimpy treating the movie and radio adaptations of Holmes: Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett are adequately represented, but the rest of the section (too brief) is a scattershot itemization of a few movies. (I mean, does "Without a Clue" really warrant any mention at all other than as a comic anomaly?) Holmes iconography in general could really have stood a few more pages, since it has been so central to Holmes's continuing popularity.
And one other small regret: weirdly, Frederick Dorr Steele's illustrations grace the box and dust jackets, but he isn't represented nearly enough inside: it's nice to see his fine sequence of pictures for "The Creeping Man," but it's sad that his flawless portrait of Holmes on the cliff (from "The Lion's Mane") isn't here.
But these are cavils. For anyone (not just Sherlock junkies) interested in the Holmes cycle, this is the edition to have: it'll keep you company for a long time to come. I look forward to the concluding volume (with the four novels) next year!
The stories themselves are treated with the utmost respect. No Bible thin paper quality here. The pages are thick and the type large and easily read. The text is written in column form with copious notes written for the general reader by Leslie Klinger appearing along side the text vs. footnotes at the bottom of the page. These notes provide in depth explanations of references in the text that may not be familiar to the modern reader. To make this volume an extra special treat are the numerous illustrations that are interspersed directly into the text at the location the illustration refers to. These are the original illustrations by Sidney Paget that appeared in the Strand Magazine or Frederick Dorr Steele in Collier's among many others. Vintage photographs appear throughout lending the tales an added level of realism. Mr. Klinger has also written articles to educate the reader such as the Boer War, the guns of Sherlock Holmes, swamp adders and various other topics pertaining to the stories.
These two volumes represent all the short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. In one year, the novels will appear in a separate volume. THE ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES is a superb work and should be the cornerstone of any home mystery library. It is truly a joy to read and marvelous to look at.
This large oversize set is similiar in size to last year's "Far Side" collection of all of Gary Larsen's drawings. With nearly 1,900 pages, the annotations are placed alongside the text for quick reference along with some of the original illustations which accompanied those stories. And frankly, the Amazon price is a steal for an edition of this quality (think of the Library of America publications).
The reader should be aware that the four Sherlock Holmes novels (like "The Hound of the Basketvilles", "A Study In Scarlet", et al) are NOT in this edition --they will be published in a third volume next year. This new edition is more comprehensive than the two volume set of William Baring-Gould (1968) and far less bulky than the nine volume edition from Oxford University Press. The writing is clear and concise by the editor (Leslie Klinger) who has performed considerable research on the world of Sherlock Holmes. This is an edition that the reader will return to again and again on a cold winter's night.
First the good - you can feel the love in these books. Large format, heavy, decent enough paper, the definitive Sidney Paget illustrations, extensive annotations, timelines, 'biographies' of Watson and Holmes, a clear obsession with the subject.
The downside is that same obsession. Each page is divided in half, with the inner half being the actual story, the outer half being the annotations. HALF. There is nearly as much annotation as story. Now imagine you're reading along and you see a little superscript '10' next to a word. My natural inclination is to glance at the annotation - the problem is you don't know whether it's crucial or worse than useless. It could tell you useful information such as every mention of the game of whist in the official Holmes Canon or the definition of a word that might not be in much use today, like 'whist'. It could be idle fan speculation such as 'Mister Blah speculates in his Holmesian analysis 'Maids in Deerskin Peril' that this maid was actually the long lost fifth cousin of Prof. Moriarity because she shares the same last name as his fourth cousin!' It could be bafflement that there was apparently no hotel in the town of Foochester where Holmes said there was in the story 'The Bunnies of the Foovilles'. Worst of all it could be pointing out actual factual errors by Holmes, like a barometer reading that Holmes seems to think would indicate fair weather but a meteorologist says means it should be raining already (and of course these are all written off as Watson's errors, which gets very tedious after a while). Or noting that 'Watson refers here to a story that by the chronology could not have taken place already because of x, y, and z'.
The reality is perhaps too easy: Arthur Conan Doyle cared only slightly for Holmesian consistency and didn't spend much time worrying about it. When you get obsessed fans trying to explain or retcon some inconsistency it's bound to be a horrible sight, and these are brought out equally with the genuinely useful annotations. When you glance over you have no way of telling which it will be in advance.
I read the stories as a child and loved them, and am trying to re-read them again, but this obsessive, nitpicking nerdgassing is destroying all my love. Imagine you're reading Wizard of Oz while little text bubbles are popping up describing everything wrong with the story.
Against all my training, I am teaching myself to completely ignore all the annotations (and thus half the page) and perhaps will go back later and re-read the comments.
So again, if you've already read all the books, these are excellent. If not, read a collection that consists of only the stories themselves first.