Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong

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Authors: Pierre Bayard
whole solution
     collapses. Here again, the fact that we’re dealing with eyewitness accounts has considerable consequences.

    The problem is that these doubts about Dr. Mortimer also apply to the other important characters in the case, all of whom
     are in the position of telling part of the story at one time or another, with the notable exceptions of Selden, who never
     appears directly, and the dog.
    We have to take Sir Henry Baskerville at his word, then, about the life he led before he arrived in Devonshire. We have to
     trust the Barrymores in their judgment of Selden’s personality, and the Stapletons on their life before they moved close to
     the Hall. We have to believe Laura Lyons about the circumstances in which her meeting with Sir Charles Baskerville was arranged,
     and Frankland about his reasons for refusing to see Laura Lyons.
    Even Sherlock Holmes’s narratives must be questioned when we recognize (as we do many times in just this one novel) that he
     makes mistakes. We learn about the investigations he claims to have been conducting in London while his friend was attending
     to Sir Henry Baskerville’s protection only from his own testimony, which shouldn’t necessarily be given a higher status than
     the testimonies of other characters.
    Despite his intelligence and his successes, Sherlock Holmes remains one character among many, and his vision of events, as
     it is communicated to us in his final analysis of the case, can only be one point of view—an interesting one, to be sure,
     because of his participation in the investigation, but one that does not preclude other, equally legitimate points of view.

    These constant delegations of narration do not absolve Watson of his initial responsibility, since each character’s narration
     is taken up—and necessarily revised—by him. But they tend to make his testimony more fragile, and therefore even less credible.
    The final result is that the reader who wants to form his own opinion has to deal with a multitude of uncertain accounts,
     some of which we may think are willfully falsified and all of which have been passed through the sieve of the main narration,
     Watson’s, which has been discredited from the very beginning. Faced with this patchwork narrative, only blind faith could
     impel a reader to accept without reservations the official truth about the tragic events that bloodied the Devonshire moor—the
     account that has been imposed on us for more than a century, even though it goes against common sense.
    * Like this one about the man on the tor: “But I had my own experience for a guide, since it had shown me the man himself
     standing upon the summit of the black tor. That, then, should be the centre of my search. From there I should explore every
     hut upon the moor until I lighted upon the right one. If this man were inside it I should find out from his own lips, at the
     point of my revolver if necessary, who he was and why he had dogged us so long. He might slip away from us in the crowd of
     Regent Street, but it would puzzle him to do so upon the lonely moor. On the other hand, if I should find the hut, and its
     tenant should not be within it, I must remain there, however long the vigil, until he returned. Holmes had missed him in London.
     It would indeed be a triumph for me if I could run him to earth where my master had failed.” ( The Hound of the Baskervilles, op. cit., p. 862)

III
In Defense of the Dog
    THE RECEIVED IMAGE of The Hound of the Baskervilles— an image that has gained strength from the film adaptations of the novel, all of which have confirmed the official version—is
     that of a somewhat fantastical tale in which a monstrous hound spreads terror on the English moor, driving its victims to
     death through fear or violence.
    Distrustful on principle, the detective critic cannot subscribe to such a simplistic view. Although the existence of a huge
     dog is attested to in the final scene, with several witnesses

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