Weekly Forum 2015: #16

Today’s topic is from our fellow JHWS member “Willow.” Thank you!
If you wish to offer an idea for a Weekly Forum topic, please contact me at carla@johnhwatsonsociety.com

Enjoying the Canon

When you sit down to read the Canon purely for the pleasure of doing so (not counting research or studying for a quiz), which version do you read:

Doubleday, Baring-Gould Annotated, Klinger Annotated, Oxford, John Murray, Limited Edition, an illustrated version, paperback edition, something else? …and also, why?


20 Replies to “Weekly Forum 2015: #16”

  1. Very interesting. Usually I have two choices: my “old faithful” Italian translation in two volumes (the first version of the Canon I read at 14) or the Penguin version in one paperback volume (same as the Doubleday version).
    I’m not a big collector of Canon versions. I have some different Italian versions, mostly to check and review the translations, and an excellent facsimile “Strand” version. I confess I have not bought the Klinger Annotated yet, it’s a gap that I must fill soon.

  2. I love this question: “Willow” invited me to weigh in specifically because I appear to have strong feelings! I usually read the canon on my iPhone on the go, or on the internet when I’m at my computer, at sherlock-holm.es.

    I own three hardback copies of the canon: the Doubleday and a two-volume copy that I won at 221B Con in 2013 that are both packed up at my parents’ house, and the single-volume illustrated Wordsworth edition that I bought in England to use for my MA thesis. But those are for show, really. They don’t travel well.

    The ebook comes on the Tube with me for when I want a little comfort reading or to remind myself of a line or a scene. The internet version is for quick reference while I’m writing, and to share with people (particularly the members of the Retired Beekeepers of Sussex) who may or may not have paper copies of the canon of their own. Because it’s in the public domain, it’s so easy to get ahold of it anywhere, and to spread the gospel!

  3. That’s a very good question! For research, I might well consult all the annotated editions – Baring-Gould, Klinger, Morley, Oxford, Penguin, and perhaps one of the more esoteric ones. However, for simple reading pleasure, although I have what used to be (and would still be if I had my way) the standard UK version, the two-volume John Murray edition, as well as the one-volume Doubleday, and a few others, I’ll usually turn to the CRW “Collectors Library” edition in six attractive hardback volumes. They’re pocket-sized, but the print is clear and legible, and the text is sound. Ideal for carrying around with me. If the book in question is “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, though, I may well prefer the much larger but breathtakingly gorgeous Easton Press edition.

  4. For sentimental reasons I use the Garden City edition, because that’s how I first read the Canon. Not in my first copy of the edition, because that was stolen many years ago from a studio where the Priory Scholars of Fordham were recording one of Chris Steinbrunner’s scripts (if you find a copy with my bookplate in it, please let me know). I recall being puzzled by the word “keeking” (as in “a young woman with her head in her hands, keeking at your sideways”) and not being able to find the word in any dictionary, and then realizing it was a typo.

  5. I would have to say for pleasure, the Baring Gould Annotated. I like the annotations and the insights into the Victorian times. Practically, though, I find myself reading the Canon on my Kindle more often- before bed, waiting at the Doctor’s office and other places where it is more convenient that I rather not go into details.

    I haven’t really given Klinger’s Annotated much attention yet. But what little I have, I have found the annotations informative and fun.

  6. This question goes along with one that I’ve been contemplating for awhile: how many copies of the Canon does a Sherlockian need to own? Of course, a Sherlockian should own all 56 short stories and four novels, no matter what version, paperback, hardcover or digital. I have the Doubleday, the Baring-Gould Annotated, the Klinger Annotated, Klinger’s 10 volume Sherlock Holmes Reference Library, a trade facsimile of the original Adventures and Memoirs, a trade facsimile of the Return as in the Strand and I recently acquired the Oxford Annotated, but I have not yet read them. Next time I read the entirety of the Canon, that’s the version I’ll go with. However, if I’m going to read a single story for pleasure, I now pull down the appropriate volume of Klinger’s SHRL, only because of the convenience of size and weight and that it’s easier to ignore the footnotes if that’s what I want to do.

    1. I do want to get an annotated version for my growing bookshelf. I keep coming up with all these questions about whether someone has noticed that thing (probably) and whether this line of inquiry has been followed (also probably) and if anyone else had this question I’ve just had (almost certainly). Need a bigger income, though. If anyone wants to donate to the fund…

      1. I would suggest started with the Klinger Sherlock Holmes Reference Library from Gasogene Books. Each volume can be bought individually and the annotations go quite in depth. I don’t know much about Kickstarter though…

  7. I’ve got a shelf full of various versions of the Canon, a number with annotations, and I won’t ever shelve a book I haven’t read, so I’ve read them all. When I’m away from home, I’m likely to have nothing more than my e-reader with me. When I’m just reading through, perhaps before a meeting, it’s my battered two-volume Bantam paperback. The only one I won’t read casually is my leather-bound one; I’m petrified I’ll mess up that gorgeous binding. Did go through it once, then not again.

  8. Obviously all my individual ‘Strand Magazines’ – doesn’t everyone?

    I wish!

    No, it’s the Gasogene Klinger paperbacks, so that quick scholarship reference can be made if suddenly needed to interrupt the pleasure of hitting the stories once more..or those I choose to return to.

    Remind me why ‘Wisteria Lodge’ or ‘The Three Gables’ need ever to be re-read – in any edition?

    1. I have long contemplated writing an article focusing on Holmes’ treatment of Steve Dixie in 3GAB with Stephen Jay Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man” as the key-in to attitudes to human ethnicities up to the Victorian era. And on the WelcomeHomes forum a while back someone came up with a comments on the ending of WIST that opened up new vistas on the story. There’s always fertile ground in the Canon.

  9. Since I posed the question, it’s only fair that I add my own experience. My first complete Canon was the Doubleday edition, which I received as a gift from my parents after the ceremonies surrounding my thirteenth birthday. I had already read many of the stories in various paperback editions, but the first time I read all sixty stories, from the start of A Study in Scarlet to the end of The Casebook, was via the Doubleday. I now have various copies of the Doubleday scattered about the house and always had one in my office when I was at work. The original one is getting rather battered but I read one story each year in that copy, for the sake of continuity. There are many other wonderful editions, and I make use of several of them if I am preparing an article or presentation, or studying for a quiz. If I am traveling, I take along the Bantam two-volume paperbacks. But if I am just reading for the sheer pleasure of spending time with the Canon, there is nothing like starting with the Morley introduction, having Jack Tracy’s invaluable Encyclopedia Sherlockiana nearby, and then delving into the Doubleday. The look of the print, the color of the paper, and the layout of the pages reminds me of my first encounters with Holmes and Watson……and what could be more enjoyable than that!

  10. This is an interesting question, and one that I had to think about — for a minute. We have so many editions of the Canon, but the one that I find the most pleasurable at this point in my life is my Kindle. I can make the print any size and find it easier to read, which makes the experience gentle and satisfying. Isn’t that what we want from our readings? For research purposes, I’ll always consult Baring-Gould and Klinger’s Annotated, and the Oxford.

  11. While I use Kindle or a battered paperback for research and travel, when I actually sit down at home to enjoy a fresh rereading, I always opt for the three-volume Heritage Edition because the book feels right in my hands, and the print and illustrations, like the linen at the Chequers, are above reproach.

  12. Probably I use the Doubleday edition the most–especially since I got so used to it in doing the JHWS treasure hunts. But, my favorite is actually The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes (37 stories and HOUND) as originally printed in the Strand. Since I, like “The Ancient British Barrow,” do not have (yet–who knows?) the original Strands (which i would not touch anyway), I like this edition because it is as if I am reading the Strands. If I want something lighter on the midsection, I have the Oxford series, small and light with great annotations Iexcept that they are at the back). And, finally, I love reading in B-G–what a treat! How could the reading world be any richer?? Daisy

  13. I love Pippin’s notion of writing an article on Holmes vis-à-vis Steve Dixie. Any Sherlockian with at least three molecules of decency in their make-up has to squirm uncomfortably when reading this cringeworthy bit. And to top it off, it’s the very antithesis of Holmes’ attitude towards blacks as evinced in Yellow Face. Go, Pippin, go! Write that article. It is a long time overdue and should start a fruitful discussion!

  14. I thought I had far too many copies of the Canon. I certainly have more than one assume one needs. Yet after reading everyone’s comments, I’m comforted to know I’m not the only one with multiple editions. This is such a friendly thread.

    I have the Doubleday, of course. I needed that and the MrMoon search engine (http://mrmoon.com/moonfind/holmes/) a great deal while I was taking part in last year’s Treasure Hunt.

    I have two Klinger annotations and the two Baring-Gould volumes, all for whenever I want to read additional notes about the stories. I have a Barnes & Noble copy simply because the cover and design of the book is so pretty that I love seeing it on my shelf with a few other nicely bound books. I have two Japanese translations of the Canon (one is a modern translation from Kadokawa paperbacks and another from a collection produced several decades ago), which I read for language practice. I have a Spanish edition of “A Study in Scarlet” simply because it is full of Fernando Vicente’s artwork, but unfortunately I do not speak Spanish.

    I also have the audiobook version and the complete BBC Radio 4 dramatizations. Whenever I’m sitting down to really study a story (usually in preparation for discussion at the next Sound of the Baskervilles meeting), I would listen from the audiobook while also reading from a big tome a friend gifted to me. It’s a hefty book called “The Original Illustrated ‘Strand’ Sherlock Holmes” and it has facsimiles of the story and artwork as they would appear in their original form. Seeing the original illustrations is a very fun way to read. 🙂

    And then while on my way to the SoB meeting to discuss the story (usually when I’m on the bus) I always listen to that same story from the BBC Radio 4 dramatization, because that brings it to life for me.

    And then there is simply reading for the fun of it… and yeah, I use my kindle. It’s certainly the lightest option out of my entire collection.

  15. I’m enjoying reading this thread very much. I’ve read Baring-Gould and Klinger’s annotated cover to cover; I don’t have Klinger’s other set but I remain hopeful of obtaining all the volumes some day. I recently was fortunate enough to buy a second-hand set of the Oxford in beautiful condition. Since I am reading now for the preparation of the 2015 treasure hunt, the Oxfords have become my new favorites. When time to exercise, I choose one of the volumes at random, ride away on the exercise bike and read, sometimes just reading the notes in the back without reading the text. Prior to joining JHWS, I always read my Barnes & Noble leather-bound edition when I reading in the canon just for the fun of it. It is a nice size with easy to read fonts, and, to be honest, I always thought that if I dropped it in the bathtub, or spilled hot tea on it, the loss wouldn’t be so great since it wasn’t a very expensive edition. Once I met Buttons, though, it all changed because I found out from the first treasure hunt that my Barnes & Noble is the same text as the Doubleday. It has now become my ‘bible’–constantly out on the desk, counter, bedside, and starting to look a little worse for wear. [Since not everyone has a Doubleday edition, I have elected to not require any specific page numbers for answers for this year’s treasure hunt. However, when I post the answers to the thing in September, all page numbers referenced will be from the Doubleday. ] It is good to hear that so many of you have multiple editions because I have several, and I continue to buy them. I am not alone in my ‘addiction’.

  16. What edition of the Canon do I read for pleasure? Whichever one is at hand … they all give me pleasure! We have various editions in several rooms in our house, and each car has a Doubleday just in case of breakdowns or delays. (Note: they’re old Doubleday book club editions, which I’ve discovered have more words per page and thus are not paginated the same as the standard Doubleday edition.) That being said, my printing of choice is the Klinger SHRL. Any of you who know me will not be surprised that I enjoy the annotations almost as much as the stories themselves. What I do not have — and do not foresee getting — is a Kindle version. For me, books have to be bound volumes of pages that I can heft and flip through and thoughtfully tap on the palm of my hand when the mood strikes me.

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