You're not a Sherlockian! Yes I am!

Yesterday there appears to have been another Sherlockian spat. I only caught the post-mortem and no one gave me further information (so I could be getting a lot of this wrong) but it appears to have been about the age old issue of Sherlockian merit. In other words, are some Sherlockians more serious than others, are some more worthy than others?

This appeared to extend into labels with labels being seen (or used) by some as an indicator of merit or approval (or lack thereof). There was some debate about what terms could/should be used to describe different kinds of Sherlockian. A counter argument was put forward that such labels are not helpful and are also unnecessary - we should all be happy with the label "Sherlockian".

I have no problem with different labels, provided they are not derogatory, as they can assist us to understand each other's interests in the very broad field that is Sherlockiana. Let's not pretend for a second that we all occupy a Venn diagram with only one circle in it. We clearly don't.

If I'm seeking out specialists in a certain area, Sherlockian sub-categories (for lack of a better expression) can be very helpful. I know it's tenuous but if I have heart issues I need to find a cardiologist not any old doctor - if I want to speak to someone about the history of Sherlock Holmes on the stage it is clear that not any Sherlockian would do. At their most basic level, labels are not a problem and can be a benefit.

But I take issue with the notion that a person who is interested in one aspect is seen as less worthy than another. Let's not kid ourselves, we've all met someone with an interest in an aspect of Sherlockiana that we've failed to understand or appreciate but we don't have the right to label that person less worthy or serious than ourselves (or indeed more worthy than ourselves).

To fall back on my medical analogy - someone cannot just call themselves a doctor. Exams have to be passed and knowledge has to be demonstrated. There are bodies that govern the profession and they do so to ensure that we are kept safe from the unqualified.

Such a body does not exist for the world of Sherlock Holmes - because it is unnecessary - and therefore no one can decide whether or not you are a Sherlockian. Privately we might not rate all that highly what another Sherlockian does (we've all done it) and we may have different ideas about the things that are mandatory knowledge for someone daring to use the term but, at the end of the day, that's just a different viewpoint. None of us has the right to elevate ourselves above the others. It is the combined effort of all of us that keeps the whole Sherlockian world alive not the efforts of a select few.

I offer another slant on this in my post "The Mushroom Analogy".

Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here



  1. "...the age old issue of Sherlockian merit. In other words, are some Sherlockians more serious than others, are some more worthy than others?"

    Yep, in a way. For me at least.

    You, for instance, are clearly a real and proper Sherlockian with a serious and even scholarly interest not only in SH, but even more so in his creator ACD. According to that you have a good overview about what like-minded fellows are up to in your corner of the Sherlockian world.

    I, otoh, am merely a Sherlock-fan with a more frivolous interest in a certain curly-headed incarnation of that detective and almost no interest in his ur-creator whatsoever. But I have a bit better knowledge and understanding of what the currently very active part of that fandom is up to.

    Seems to me we do complement each other rather well. But, yes, I would always consider you the 'real Sherlockian' while I'm just having a passing fad.

    1. There's no "merely" about it. You've chosen an approach to the broader subject matter that suits you. We may outdo each other "knowledge-wise" in certain areas but it doesn't render either of us more worthy of the title Sherlockian than the least I don't think so.

  2. That's sweet of you to say, but I don't consider myself a 'real Sherlockian' because, imo, this would constitute an interest in SH/ACD beyond BBC!Sherlock which I simply can't muster.

    And even my interest in the BBC show is waning now and in a short time I will pass away from these shores and pay undivided attention to my orchids again... or find something entirely new which kindles my interest.

    But it's unlikely that I'll spend the rest of my life with SH.