Ashamed as I was to be reading the GW magazine- Sydney Morning Herald’s rather pale paper- I came across a tiny mention of the new Sherlock Holmes mystery. The House of Silk (2011) has been sanctioned by the late author’s estate, and has been written by Anthony Horowitz, the popular children’s author. The reason I mention this myself is not to bestow upon Horowitz any praise, but I thought it an interesting development in the seemingly never-ending legacy of Sherlock Holmes. Having submitted an abstract for a paper on fanfiction and authorship that I will hopefully present next year at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris (yes, the one out of Midnight in Paris), I find it very interesting how people continue the lives of characters once the original author is long gone (it seems Conan Doyle is writing 81 years posthumously). On the popular fanfiction site Unleash Your Imagination.com, over 3,000 Sherlock Holmes stories have been written. The only other contender in this number is The Bible.
For those interested in this sort of phenomenon, I greatly recommend French author and theorist Pierre Bayard’s, Sherlock Holmes was Wrong: Reopening the case of the Hound of the Baskerville’s (2007). Bayard, whether an in-depth theorist or obsessive fan of Conan Doyle, fastidiously reopens and re-invetigates the case, claiming Conan Doyle to have come to the wrong conclusions about the murderer. The book’s investigations into authorial criticism, while light, are apparent, and is in the same vein to Bayard’s earlier Who killed Roger Ackroyd? (1998) in which Bayard accuses Agatha Christie, or Hercule Poirot, rather, of falling victim to his own mistaken conclusions. Both works provide excellent criticism for the notion of the author by provoking debates over whether a literary character, such as Sherlock Holmes, has its own autonomous existence. In the case of Sherlock Holmes, he is not unlike the ghost of Elvis- someone who is never going to pass on.