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Data! Data! Data! – The Final Problem

Data! Data! Data! – The Final Problem

“‘Data! Data! Data!‘ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’”

– The Adventures of The Copper Beeches (COPP)

Sidney Paget – The Strand Magazine – December 1893
Sidney Paget – The Strand Magazine – December 1893

This column is composed of material (Data!) developed for a short course called Appreciating Sherlock Holmes that I teach twice a year in the Community Education Life Enrichment Program for a local community college. It is composed of “points of information” that are common to many / most / all of the 60 Canonical stories.

The information here has been researched by me or borrowed / stolen from many efforts of other Sherlockians.

HERE GOES This month’s story…. The Final Problem

Readers were appalled by Holmes’s disappearance, but at any rate Watson told the story in the right tone of voice. None of the episodes surpass this in effective suspense and intimate suggestions of character.

SH4DummiesDUMMIES SHORT SUMMARY (From Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle & David Crowder)
“This tale which introduces Professor James Moriarty, the Napoleon of crime, has a shocking conclusion that few readers can forget. It is with a heavy heart that Watson relates the death of Sherlock Holmes.”

This is 26th of the 60 stories to be published.
It was first published in the Strand Magazine (UK) and McClure’s Magazine (US) in December 1893.
It is part of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes collection published in 1894.
The British illustrator was Sidney Paget, and in the U.S. it was Harry C. Edwards.

According to C. E. Lauderback, 1960 – – found on SHERLOCKIAN.NET website of Chris Redmond
At 7,203 words FINA has the 17th most words (#1 is VEIL – 4,499, #56 if NAVL – 12,701)

THE BEST OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (How do Sherlockians rate this story?)
1927 – Arthur Conan Doyle named it 4th on his list of 12 favorites.
1944 – The Baker Street Irregulars voted it 8th of their top 12 favorites.
1954 – The Baker Street Irregulars voted it as 12th on their top 12 favorites.
1999 – Sherlock Holmes Society of London voted it 7th of the 56 short stories.

CLASSIFYING THE CASE (From the Wandering Gipsies of Grimpen Mire of Decatur, Alabama)
This case is one of 23 classified as a MURDER and one of 14 where the perpetrator was either killed, arrested, or otherwise satisfactorily handled.

Doyle was often very vague about stating WHEN the tale took place and included few contemporary references to help. Whether this was done intentionally or unthinkingly, the dating of events in the Canon is a very popular pastime pursued by several of our “scholars” researching and justifying their results to no end. We will again default to William Baring-Gould’s dating of Friday, Apr 24 to Monday, May 4, 1891 making it the 31st story in time. This makes Holmes 37 and Watson 40.

It is always interesting to see what else in happening at the same time as the stories.
• Nyasaland becomes British Protectorate.
• November 4, First half-tone English newspaper picture published in Daily Graphic: that of George Lambert, Liberal parliamentary candidate.
• Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, opens.
• Independent Labour Party newspaper, The Clarion, published.
• All elementary education to be free.
• Factory Act: no child under 11 to work in factories in England.
• Germany develops first pension scheme.
• Massacre of Europeans following Arab revolt in Belgian Congo.

1988 USSR 1 Ruble - Gorky's 120th Birthday
1988 USSR 1 Ruble – Gorky’s 120th Birthday

• Triple Alliance, Germany, Austria, Italy renewed to 1902.
• Maxim Gorky urges class war in Russia.
• Widespread famine in Russia.
• Building of Trans-Siberian Railway commenced.
• Gaughin travels to Tahiti.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle is published.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hardy.
• Beginnings of wireless telegraphy based on work of Clark Maxwell and Hertz.
• Tesla further develops his high-tension induction coil–one million volts.
• Tuffier, of Paris, performs early lung operation for tuberculosis.
• W.L. Hudson, American, invents zipper. First practical design in 1913.

Holmes still occupies 221B. After Watson’s marriage and subsequent start in private practice, the very intimate relations which had existed between Holmes and Watson changed. Holmes still saw Watson from time to time, but these occasions grew more and more seldom, until in 1890 there were only three cases of which Watson kept any record.

This is the first time that Watson learns about the existence of the ultimate villain.
• PROFESSOR MORIARTY, “the Napoleon of Crime.”
• COL. JAMES MORIARTY, the professor’s brother.
• MYCROFT, Sherlock’s BIG brother in several ways.
• PETER STEILER, proprietor of the Englisher Hof at Meiringen.
• INSPECTOR PATTERSON, in charge of rounding up the professor’s gang.

With the introduction of Moriarty, Holmes has a lot of memorable quotes.
• “I think that you know me well enough, Watson, to understand that I am by no means a nervous man. At the same time, it is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you.”
• “You have probably never heard of Professor Moriarty?” said he.
• “He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the center of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them.”
• “You know my powers, my dear Watson, and yet at the end of three months I was forced to confess that I had at last met an antagonist who was my intellectual equal. My horror at his crimes was lost in my admiration at his skill.”
• “My dear Watson, Professor Moriarty is not a man who lets the grass grow under his feet.”
• “I think that I may go so far as to say that I have not lived wholly in vain. If my record ware closed tonight I could still survey it with equanimity. The air of London is the sweeter for my presence. In over a thousand cases I am not aware that I have ever used my powers upon the wrong side. Of late I have been tempted to look into the problems furnished by nature rather than those more superficial ones for which our artificial state of society is responsible.”
• “I am pleased to think that I shall be able to free society from any further effects of his presence, though I fear that it is at a cost which will give pains to my friends, and especialy, my dear Watson to you.”
• “Danger is part of my trade.”

There is no fee. Holmes states that his services to the government of France and the royal house of Scandinavia had left him with enough money to retire comfortably,

As important this story is in the Canon, one would think everyone might commit it to the screen. There have only been three versions.
1923 –  The Final Problem with Eille Norwood was Holmes in 47 movies. The National Film and Television Archive at the BFI has viewing copies of this film but it has not been released.
1985 – The Final Problem with Jeremy Brett in the Granada Sherlock Holmes series. This was the last episode with David Burke as Watson.
1999 – The Fall and Rise of Sherlock Holmes was the first episode in the Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century animated TV series.

The Master of Disguise used the deception of being disguised 14 times in 11 of the 60 stories. In this case, Holmes makes his “flight” as an Italian priest.

UNRECORDED CASES (That involved Holmes)
Watson would tease / torture his readers with “I know something you don’t.” Oh my, how Sherlockians love this category. I have in excess of over 150 examples in my collection. These two contribute to Holmes’ lack of need for a fee.
• Engaged by the French government in a matter of extreme importance
• Assisted the royal family of Scandanavia

FAINTING IN THE CANON (courtesy of Sherlockian Karen Murdock)
Fainting is extremely common in the Canon, appearing, in some form, in 37 of the 60 tales. In 21 cases someone actually faints. In 22 cases someone almost faints. And in 5 cases someone pretends to faint. In this month’s story no one faints, almost faints, pretends to faint, or even mentions fainting.

Sherlockians love this topic and are regularly searching for these items. Holmes mentions published or projected works in 11 of the stories, but there are non in this story.

NEWSPAPERS (Real and Fictional)
Though included in only 20 tales some of our more obsessed Sherlockians love this one but don’t have any here.

The 60 Sherlock Holmes stories used English as spoken in England from the 1880’s until the 1910’s. Some words are foreign to us today and need a “contemporary translation.” Our one example here is just an English term.
• “..your four-in-hand..” A four horse team driven by one person.

WEAPONS (from A Compendium of Canonical Weaponry by Dettman and Bedford)
“weapons are a means by which one contends against another” … utilized in 57 of the 60 tales (all but CREE, 3STU, & YELL) There are several general categories to classify “weapons” that include: firearms, human agents, cutlery, animals, blunt instruments, extortion, toxin, blackmail, and miscellaneous. In our story, which is short, you will find a varied amount of weapons:
• Air-Guns – Which Holmes mentioned being afraid of to Watson.
• Revolver – Sherlock Holmes’ and is mentioned in 8 cases. To cover Prof. Morarity.
• Brickbat – Which Holmes said was hurled at him from a rooftop in Vere Street by a henchman of Moriarty.
• Bludgeon – Which a ruffian, presumably under Morarity’s hire, used to attack Holmes.
• Large Boulder – Which was presumably dislodges at Holmes and Watson by Moriarty and/of his henchman.
• Threat – Made on Holmes’ life by Prof. Moriarty, intimating fearful consequences if he did not drop his investigations.
• Two-Horse Van – Presumably under the hire of Prof. Morarity, which almost ran down Sherlock Holmes.
• Fire – Set in Holmes’ rooms, also presumably the handiwork of Morarity.

Holmes is dead! As a result of The Final Problem, the public responded with a massive uproar that amazed everybody, especially Doyle. Twenty thousand people canceled their subscriptions to The Strand. Hate mail arrived at the magazine’s editorial offices by the sack load. Thousands of people from around the world wrote Doyle directly, begging him to reverse Holmes’s death. The death of the world’s first consulting detective was taken up by the wire services and reported all over the world as front-page news. Obituaries for Holmes appeared everywhere. Petitions were signed and “Keep Holmes Alive” clubs were formed. The comment that many people took to wearing black armbands in the street in mourning for Sherlock Holmes is just one publication’s exaggeration and has no basis in fact. – – – – but hardcore Sherlockians know that Holmes is still alive because his death notice has never appeared in The London Times.

Two brilliant men meet at an isolated spot knowing that one or both may not come back alive – AND – neither one is armed. Sorry, I just can’t understand that.

Holmes’ body was ever discovered. I think that Doyle was just “covering his butt” in case his other literary ventures might fail.

2015-03-30 10.41.54Frank Mentzel, aka Merridew of Abominable Memory, is the current Gasogene of the Six Napoleons of Baltimore and is busy getting ready for that group’s 70th anniversary this September. He also is preparing for his four week Appreciating Sherlock Holmes classes for the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, MD for the Fall semester later this year.

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