Monday, August 13, 2007

Alimentary, my dear Watson

My wife is currently reading the complete Sherlock Holmes, as published in Strand Magazine. She has noticed a peculiar thing. All the stories she has read so far, bar one, has had a scene where a character is given a glass of brandy to revive them, after a shock, or in the case of the ladies, a swoon. The one story where there is an exception, it's a glass of wine. My wife is now expecting a brandy offering in every story she reads in this collection. Last night, she even dreamed that Sherlock Holmes was offering her a glass of brandy.
Obviously this is a dramatic device used by Conan Doyle to further the plot. Readers of the Strand would have these fifty six tales spread out over a few years and perhaps might not notice this repetition of, for them a mundane act of aid. Of course, now it would be unusual to offer alcohol to someone who felt faint, or shocked. We'd be more likely to lay them down, wrap them in a blanket, and offer them a cup of tea.
I'll find out from my wife, once she has finished the book, if this pattern of medicinal brandy tendering continues to the end.

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