First of all, I would like to apologize for not having posted for a little while. Things have been exceptionally busy at home and elsewhere recently, and beyond that, I've been afflicted with what would be termed "blogger's block," I suppose. I simply could not think of anything to write about. It came so easily those first few weeks! Mea culpa. But now, on to today's blog post...
I've reviewed Leslie Klinger's New Annotated Sherlock Holmescollection in an earlier post, but it occurred to me that W.S. Baring-Gould's Annotated Sherlock Holmes (1967) was equally (if not more) deserving of my attention. After all, with out Baring-Gould's work, Klinger's later work may never have happened. Baring-Gould's collection is a little harder to find than Klinger's, but it can be found. I got my lightly used copy (still in its slip case) from Amazon.com. As I write this post, it is currently available through Amazon sellers, for anywhere from $15 to $320 (!)
Like many readers, I imagine, I discovered the Baring-Gould Annotated after I had discovered Klinger's modern set. Comparing the two, the older edition doesn't hold up incredibly well. Baring-Gould attempted to arrange the canon chronologically, which makes it much more difficult to find the story you're looking for, right off the bat. Thus, "The Gloria Scott" is the first adventure, and "His Last Bow" is the last. It would have been useful if the editor had included some sort of index or table of contents to aid the reader in locating individual stories. Still, despite its rather odd system of organization, there is an awful lot of good stuff here: loads of illustrations, maps, diagrams, and of course, copious notes. Another nice thing, comparing Baring-Gould to Klinger, is that this collection manages to fit everything into a 2-volume set, rather than the 3 volumes that comprise Klinger's set.
And as far as playing "the Game," Baring-Gould pretty much wrote the book on that. Other than a few pages in the introductory material, in which Arthur Conan Doyle is described as the "creator" of both Holmes and Watson, in all the notes, Watson is treated as the author of the adventures, with Doyle cast as his literary agent. Classic.
In short, I would recommend that dedicated Sherlockians consider having both Baring-Gould and Klinger's annotated collections in their libraries. (And I imagine there are many who do!) It's well worth comparing the two, to see the different ideas put forth by each editor regarding paradoxes, inconsistencies, and chronological mysteries. (For example, Klinger and Baring-Gould clearly have different ideas regarding Watson's wife/wives.) I probably refer to Klinger more often than I do Baring-Gould, but both works are quite useful to have on hand. Do yourself a favor, and locate a copy of The Annotated Sherlock Holmes on Amazon today!
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN. And a longtime fan of Sherlock Holmes.