“He must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary.”

DOYLE — The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

01Arthur Conan Doyle, in his preface to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes: “I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences. This must cease and he must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary.” The insistence: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson would go, as would their stories, and would remain gone. And now: I have read all of the canon. That is: There are no more Sherlock Holmes stories for me to read, for the first time.

02 — From Proust, this beautiful passage about the commingled sadness and outrage a devoted reader feels upon the end of a book: “One would have so much liked the book to continue or, if that was impossible, to have other facts about all these characters, to learn something of their lives now, to employ our own on things not altogether unconnected with the love they have inspired in us, whose object was now all of a sudden gone from us, not to have loved in vain, for an hour, human beings who tomorrow will be no more than a name on a forgotten page, in a book unrelated to our lives and as to whose value we were certainly mistaken since its fate here below, as we could now see and as our parents had taught us when need arose by a dismissive phrase, was not at all, as we had thought, to contain the universe and our own destiny, but to occupy a very narrow space in the lawyer’s bookcase, between the unglamorous archives of the Journal de modes illustré and La Geographie d’Eure-et-loir.” This is why, I suppose, all this beautiful noise has existed beyond the canon. And this, too, should suffice as an explanation for when I’ll set out (when I am able) to look for more of this-but-not-like-this, to provoke a reunion, to look upon familiar passages and muse on the younger self and her younger wonders. (But: Never ever “no more than a name on a forgotten page,” never ever.)

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