I say, Holmes. How Do You Do It?

I’m realizing I didn’t really flesh this out yesterday, so allow me to expand. One of things I was really into as a kid was Victorian adventure literature. Yes, I know this makes me a weirdo.

From the best I can remember, it started with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped!. After getting a taste, I went on to devour the more accessible titles in the genre. The complete Sherlock Holmes, much of Poe, the biggies from Wells and Stevenson, even a smattering of Verne.

It’s difficult to figure what drew me to these books. Why didn’t I read, say, Star Wars novels or what little young adult fiction existed at the time? Why century-old books?

I maintain that the written English word reached the zenith of its grammatical quality in the late 1800’s. After that, the modernists came in and stripped it of all complexity, applying the factory-manager’s tenets to literature. Streamline it, do more with less, function before form. Imagine if poor Tennyson had been born in 1930.

A combination of the challenging language and the exciting subject matter made this stuff perfect for a young Alex. And did it affect who I am as a person. Take a look at my apartment and you can tell me.

3 replies on “I say, Holmes. How Do You Do It?”

I actually couldn’t get into Verne until much later in life. What was wrong with me? I mean, submarines, airships, what more does a kid want? Which Verne did you start with?

My first was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I’ve read and reread and reread it. From the Earth to the Moon, Five Weeks in a Balloon, Around the Word in 80 Days, The Mysterious Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Lighthouse at the End of the World, and the Begum’s Millions were all that I got through. My grandfather had his entire library of Voyages Extrordinaires. It killed me when he sold it.

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