Watson, Conductor of Light

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, Sherlock Holmes, is a legend of literature, film, radio and television. In the past two years, I’ve read the four Sherlock Holmes novels, and have now begun to read some of the best short stories as well.

I’m no expert in the legend, so it’s hard to know how to add anything useful or even articulate an impression of the stories I’ve read. But the Sherlock Holmes Society of London makes an interesting point about how the legacy of Holmes’ character has benefited from Doyle’s decision to tell us about Holmes through his constant companion and aide, Dr. John Watson:

“The characteristics that make Holmes attractive to readers: his integrity, trustworthiness, sensibility, rational decisiveness, lack of emotionalism, and intellectual superiority are measured and reported by Watson. Watson (a doctor like Doyle), brings humanity to Holmes, who without Watson’s sympathetic telling, would come off cold, inaccessible and unpleasant. ‘It may be that you are not yourself luminous,’ Holmes tells Watson, ‘but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.'”

How many relationships do I have that help me come off better than I would without them? How many people come off better because of me than they would without me?

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Filed under Arts, The Book I Read

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