The Strand Magazine
Vol.  xxvi               October, 1903               No. 154

                           SHERLOCK HOLMES

By A. Conan Doyle

1. The Adventure of the Empty House


 As always, the web SP and Doyle/Watson spins contains many strands. Some of which are easier to accept than others.

 The mostcomplex strand is the formation of the trilogy of death and resurrectionstories formed by NAVA, FINA and EMPT.  The Christ motif is createdby the Gethsemane scene in NAVA when a resigned Holmes remarks the beautyof the rose and the nobility of man, as Christ asked that if possible thiscup be taken from him; there is the denial of Holmes by Watson/St. Peterwho leaves him alone in FINA, and of course the resurrection scene in EMPTwhen the doubting Watson must physically grasp "him by the sleeve" to determinethat he "was not a spirit" as Thomas thrust his fingers into Christ' woundsbefore he could accept the return of his master.

  SP saw the importance of each of the above scenes in formingthe heart of this trilogy and drew them - when there were other more dramaticscenes that could have been chosen.  In NAVA, both the rose and thehumanity scenes are recorded; in FINA, Holmes is pictured alone at thefalls after Watson has departed him on a fool's errand; in EMPT Watsonis pictured behind his desk leaning away from the apparition that has appearedin his rooms.

 Clearly SP and Doyle conceived the stories as a trilogy, as thematically,the themes and allusions are continued, and Paget focuses on them. For example, the titles of the books Holmes is carrying in his disguisereinforce the romantic Holmes who, awareof his impending doom, contemplates nature, and Paget chooses to show Holmesbeing jostled so that these books fall to the pavement.  While a clearlyhaughty Watson looks on in disapproval.

 The Holmes after FINA is not the same as the Holmes before. Perhapsbecause he is not Holmes.  Paget's illustrations lend some credenceto speculation that Watson has been deceived by an agent of Moriarty whohas adapted a disguise as realistic as those which Holmes himself adopted. Compare the completely unrecognizable Holmes disguised as an Italian priestin Sp's illustration in FINA with the much more Holmesish figure as thebibliophile in the aforementioned illustration.

 Paget's discomfort with the resurrected Holmes is best seen inthe darkness in the illustrations he draws in EMPT.  Over the threestories, these illustrations have become increasingly dense and dark untilit is almost impossible to discern the familiar SP in the frontispiecewhere Watson prepares to defend Holmes with the butt of a revolver - notwilling to waste a bullet to save a friend who is clearly in danger - oris he a friend?

 Darkness, lies and ambiguity has escalated through the three storiesthat form the death and resurrection cycle, and Paget captures them all- and perhaps much more - in his illustrations of the three crucial canonicalstories that form the fulcrum on which all studies of Holmes must be balanced.

Take Care


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