Weekly Forum #35: The Definition of Canon

There are no On This Day events recorded today or tomorrow, but on the Hounds website, messages are flying back and forth about the definition of the term “Canon.” What follows is a definition that I agree with totally. The message is from Esmeralda, a fellow member of our group:

One definition of Canon among many similar ones is: a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine. “The formation of the biblical canon”

The books published under the name of Arthur Conan Doyle, good and bad, are Canonical. Any Holmes works put out under other names, however good, cannot by that definition be Canonical.

The word was originally used to describe those early religious works gathered together under the name “The Bible” — other books, even if written at the same time on the same subjects, are apocrypha, not Canon.

The best fanfic, films, TV shows, and pastiches can never be Canonical, whatever else they may be. The worst story about Holmes published by ACD (and we can argue forever about which that is) is, like it or not, Canonical.

Of course we can use words to mean what we want them to mean, but in that case, don’t they become meaningless?

Comments, fellow Watsonians?

2 Replies to “Weekly Forum #35: The Definition of Canon”

  1. Yes, I agree about Roxie! I always find myself shaking my head in agreement here with her words, and over at Welcome Holmes as well. Her best advice I’ve never practiced: “I never shelve a book I haven’t read.” As far as what constitutes ‘The Canon’, I have to go with her wise assessment. I don’t think I have anything that adds to the conversation. I will say here that I recently took a bit of a ribbing about my ‘Sherlockian religion’, and the use of the word ”Canon’ didn’t help my argument. 😉

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