On Conan Doyle

On Conan Doyle A passionate lifelong fan of the Sherlock Holmes adventures Pulitzer Prize winning critic Michael Dirda is a member of The Baker Street Irregulars the most famous and romantic of all Sherlockian grou

  • Title: On Conan Doyle
  • Author: Michael Dirda
  • ISBN: 9781400839490
  • Page: 372
  • Format: ebook
  • A passionate lifelong fan of the Sherlock Holmes adventures, Pulitzer Prize winning critic Michael Dirda is a member of The Baker Street Irregulars the most famous and romantic of all Sherlockian groups Combining memoir and appreciation, On Conan Doyle is a highly engaging personal introduction to Holmes s creator, as well as a rare insider s account of the curiously delA passionate lifelong fan of the Sherlock Holmes adventures, Pulitzer Prize winning critic Michael Dirda is a member of The Baker Street Irregulars the most famous and romantic of all Sherlockian groups Combining memoir and appreciation, On Conan Doyle is a highly engaging personal introduction to Holmes s creator, as well as a rare insider s account of the curiously delightful activities and playful scholarship of The Baker Street Irregulars Because Arthur Conan Doyle wrote far than the mysteries involving Holmes, this book also introduces readers to the author s lesser known but fascinating writings in an astounding range of other genres A prolific professional writer, Conan Doyle was among the most important Victorian masters of the supernatural short story, an early practitioner of science fiction, a major exponent of historical fiction, a charming essayist and memoirist, and an outspoken public figure who attacked racial injustice in the Congo, campaigned for liberal divorce laws, and defended wrongly convicted prisoners He also wrote novels about both domestic life and contemporary events including one set in the Middle East during an Islamic uprising , as well as a history of World War I, and, in his final years, controversial tracts in defense of spiritualism On Conan Doyle describes all of these achievements and activities, uniquely combining skillful criticism with the story of Dirda s deep and enduring affection for Conan Doyle and his work This is a book for everyone who already loves Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, and the world of 221B Baker Street, or for anyone who would like to know about them, but it is also a much needed celebration of Arthur Conan Doyle s genius for every kind of storytelling.
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      Published :2019-06-09T13:03:32+00:00

    915 Comment

    • Jim Coughenour says:

      When I was 12 I cooked a whole tray of Rice Krispie Candy Treats and carried it back to my room, where it sustained me over the days required to read The Complete Sherlock Holmes in a small print, cheap edition. I suspect there are several thousand other readers who could tell a similar story – the adolescent discovery of and addiction to the archetypal detective. Dirda's short study of Conan Doyle brought that pleasure back to me.Dirda's book is worthy not only for its musings on the history [...]

    • Elderberrywine says:

      Utterly charming.Time for true confessions. When I was 13, I received a package of Modern Library volumes for Christmas (not the normal sort of gift at all) that consisted of The Brother Karamazov, Dostoevsky, Seven Gothic Tales, Dinesen, The Autobiography of Benito Cellini, Stories of Modern Italy, Tales of Terror and the Supernatural pace Lovecraft, my last review, and the Complete Sherlock Holmes. Best. Christmas. Ever. Guess which was my favorite. Courtesy of books, Tolkien arrived a year l [...]

    • Melora says:

      I really enjoyed the greater part of this. In the first approximately two-thirds of the book, Dirda recounts his youthful discovery of Sherlock Holmes and his later explorations of Doyle's (voluminous) work. As always, he does a marvelous job of describing books and stories with just the right level of intriguing detail, and my own reading list is now several books longer. He offers biographical details of Conan Doyle's life, mostly those related to his storytelling and writing, and I found the [...]

    • Tony says:

      ON CONAN DOYLE. (2012). Michael Dirda. ****. This is a publication in the series from Princeton University Press titled, “On Writers.” The purpose of these books is to provide backgrounds on each of the writers selected, along with a critical analysis of their works. In this volume, Mr. Dirda, a member of the Baker Street Irregulars and a respected literary critic, reviews the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle. Not only does he take a look at the Sherlock Holmes works, but he also reviews most [...]

    • Matt Poland says:

      I wouldn't usually classify literary criticism as a "quick read," but I blew through Michael Dirda's appreciation of Arthur Conan Doyle's career on a 3-hour ferry ride. "Appreciation" is maybe a better word than "criticism" to characterize this book: I could have used more detailed explication of what exactly makes the style and structure of Doyle's stories work; his short fiction is so carefully constructed and styled, yet it wears that care so lightly. But Dirda's enthusiasm for the whole of D [...]

    • Christopher Rush says:

      The real subtitle of this should probably have been "But Mostly On Dirda's Experience with Doyle's Works," instead of its purported subtitle, which is only addressed briefly toward the end. This is not a criticism, mind, simply information for you, the unsuspecting future reader, a good deal of this is a personal reflection of Dirda's reading youth, his early experiences with Doyle and other mystery/sci-fi/fantasy/pulp adventures in those halcyon days of dime-store magazines and the freedom of y [...]

    • Mark says:

      I read this book in preparation for reading The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume III The Novels. I have read only one Sherlock Holmes story ("The Speckled Band," for a course on eighteenth-century British literature in college) and, to be honest, didn't find it particularly interesting. I'd never been a fan of mysteries, and since I could never figure out who had "done it" before the author told me, I tended to find them fairly frustrating. But that was twenty years ago now and, embarrassing [...]

    • Kornela says:

      I'm a bit obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. So I was very excited to pick up this book. However, I felt that this was not a good starting point for someone, like me, who doesn't really know much about the man behind Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle. Dirda writes in a way that assumes the reader is at least moderately acquainted with Conan Doyle's life. Events are mentioned, alluded to, glossed over, and not explained. Hardly any of CD's biography is detailed. And somewhat disappointingly, Sherlock Holmes [...]

    • Julie Davis says:

      This little book packs a big punch thanks to Michael Dirda's trademark enthusiasm for not only Arthur Conan Doyle but for excellent stories of all sorts. Interwoven with his own discoveries of Doyle's writing, we get Doyle's biography, looks at the whys and wherefore's of his work, and the context of the times in which they were written. We also get an inside look at the Baker Street Irregulars, in which I was less interested but which was charmingly written about.In particular this is good for [...]

    • Nathanael Booth says:

      I read this slim volume (210 pages) over the course of an afternoon. It’s a marvelous appreciation of the works of Arthur Conan Doyle—not just his Holmes stories, though those bulk large, but also his lesser-known works. And also the man himself. Dirda has an easy, conversational style that never grows wearying (except, perhaps, when he presents a huge chunk of a speech he gave to the Baker Street Irregulars). I laughed many times while reading; it’s a convivial book that deserves to be on [...]

    • Joan says:

      No one is better at evoking the joy of reading than Michael Dirda, and few book critics are better at igniting interest in books you would not normally have sought out. In this short book on Arthur Conan Doyle, part of the Writers on Writers series, Dirda covers Doyle's life and considerable body of work, starting but not stopping with Sherlock Holmes. He also pens a wonderful chapter describing his introduction to and involvement with The Baker Street Irregulars. For Doyle fans (or for people w [...]

    • Jason Furman says:

      A short excellent book that conveys Michael Dirda's delight in reading, provides a good reading of the Sherlock Holmes canon, an interesting introduction to the other works of Conan Doyle (I've only read The Lost World), and a fascinating inside account of the Baker Street Irregulars, the American association of Sherlockians. It's infectious.

    • Nathan Albright says:

      As someone who has read a fair amount of works by Arthur Conan Doyle [1], I consider myself at least a mild fan of his writing.  This work is written by someone who is enough of a fan to have been invited to the Baker Street Irregulars, which apparently believe that it was a different Doyle who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories as the rest of his body of work.  This book covers mainly the short stories and novels of Sherlock Holmes and neither his poetry nor very much on his writings in defens [...]

    • William Dury says:

      I'm a fan of Michael Dirda. I own copies of "Bound to Please" and "Classics For Pleasure." He is the widest read and most enthusiastic reader imaginable. One comes away from him contagioned and enthused. While he's not foolproof (I found "She" by H. Rider Haggard puzzling) he is entertaining and informative.So it is with "On Conan Doyle." He narrates his own experience as a reader of Conan Doyle and gives an unconsciously snobby and fun look backstage at the Baker Street Irregulars. We civilians [...]

    • Jennifer says:

      I came to Sherlock Holmes in a burst of proto-feminism. The library at my elementary school, a dimly-lit space whose shelves were tightly compressed into the back half of its single room, offered a very limited collection, over which I regularly ran a voracious eye. So it happened at the age of ten I came across a fat, red book labeled The Boys’ Sherlock Holmes. I’d already learned that things segregated off for the boys were generally more fun (see: scouting, where the male half of the spec [...]

    • Ariel says:

      I often enjoy these books about reading a single iconic author, though I am far too various and even omnivorous in my reading tastes to be in love with one author as the writers inevitably report themselves as being (they remind me of my grandmother's blinkered devotion to Judaism, a passion that only fully made sense to me when I read her obituary and realized that it had given her life a truly comprehensible shape). I especially like hearing about people's youthful encounters with their belove [...]

    • Bill FromPA says:

      Michael Dirda’s summary of Conan Doyle’s life and works is a delight to read. In this short book, compact and ideally portable, Mr. Dirda conveys a treasure trove of information, not only about his titular subject, but also a wide range of related literary subjects. Seamlessly intertwining personal memoir, biography, and literary analysis, Dirda gives us an amazingly engaging exploration of Conan Doyle’s achievements and the delights of both discovery and re-reading. In a brief discussion [...]

    • Alex Marshall says:

      When a distinguished critic takes up an author you thought you knew, you'd better sit up and pay attention. When it's Conan Doyle, even more so--because everyone knows Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, don't they? Apart from the TV series and the movies, we of a certain age grew up around 221b Baker Street and we're pretty sure who lives there and what they get up to. But hold hard. Maybe there's more here than meets the eye. Mr. Dirda casts light into shadows we didn't see and answers questions w [...]

    • Roberta says:

      This book is part of a series from Princeton University Press, “Writers On Writers.” The purpose of these books is to provide backgrounds on each of the authors chosen for the series, with a critical analysis of their works. I'm not sure that Mr. Dirda was entirely successful with the "critical analysis" part. With the exception of one of Conan Doyle's fairy books, which he says he did not read, Mr. Dirda pretty clearly worships Conan Doyle and pretty nearly everything he wrote. It actually [...]

    • Libby says:

      A must-read for the casual-to-slightly-less-casual lover of Sherlock Holmes and/or Professor Challenger, Dirda's love letter to Arthur Conan Doyle works simultaneously as a survey of Doyle's most famous stories, an introduction to his lesser-known fiction and letters, and an uproariously funny peek into the world of the Baker Street Irregulars, a venerable society of Holmes devotees and their (in)famous Game. These seemingly disparate aims are tied together by Dirda's deep respect and affection [...]

    • Susan says:

      “Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930) wasn’t knighted for creating Sherlock Holmes, though many readers feel he should have been.” “He achieves powerful and often highly poetic effects through a first-person prose that is plain, direct, frequently epigrammatic and mysteriously ingratiating. This last and most important attribute Vladimir Nabokov once called “shamanstvo”—the enchanter-quality. Start a story by Conan Doyle and you cannot stop reading, whether you are ten or si [...]

    • Gcoritsidis says:

      ACD wrote for 50 years, published 21 novels, and 150+ short stories, but this book's primary appeal is for big time Sherlock Holmes fans. Most of his other work didn't remain popular past his death in 1930. Dirda, a book columnist for the Washington Post, is a big time SH fan. He's also a really engaging writer and it's clear he had fun writing this book for fellow fans. The book covers ACD's other major characters (ex. Prof. Challenger of The Lost World) and Spiritualism (ACD got really into it [...]

    • Bruce Nordstrom says:

      I have read through some of the other reviews posted here, and I don't think I really have anything new to add. I loved this book. Told me a lot about Doyle that I didn't know. And about his other writings--I have read "The White Company," years ago, and I was suprised at the memories this brought back.Worthy of special mention here is the mention author Dirda makes of the address he gave to the Baker Street Irregulars Society several years ago. It is titled,"A Case for Langford Pike." This alon [...]

    • Tuck says:

      fun and fact-filled overview of arthur conan doyle and his many many books. though not exhaustive by any means as an annotated bibliography, dirda looks at quite a few of Doyle's lesser known novels and short stories like "the stark munro letters" and "tales of pirates and blue waters" etc etc but highlights sherlock holmes stories for the most part. so for most things sherlockaina, and almost all things doylean, this is a wonderfully written and lighthearted look. from u of princeton new series [...]

    • Roy Kenagy says:

      Engaging review from the LA Times "On Conan Doyle: or, The Whole Art of Storytelling" bitly/zrURAO"[Dirda] has shared his immense affection for Sherlock Holmes and his creator. What comes through best in the book is his love for tales of adventure, or, as Vincent Starrett calls them, stories “in which things happen, and then keep on happening.” Dirda also makes a convincing argument that too many readers have let Doyle disappear into his creations. More importantly, it allows those not lucky [...]

    • James says:

      I am a big fan of Arthur Conan Doyle and have read his Sherlock Holmes stories numerous times. I never thought that he had written any other stories. Michael Dirda, long time critic and book columnist, presents a critical analysis of the works of Doyle, all of his works. Beginning with Dirda's own childhood introduction to Sherlock Holmes, he traces his own interest and love of all things Doyle to the present day. Along the way, he introduces the reader to Doyle's other fiction works (fantasy, s [...]

    • Roberta says:

      Michael Dirda, book critic for the Washington Post, takes us on a delightful excursion through his childhood obsession with Sherlock Holmes. (Dirda's love of Conan Doyle's fabulous creation has followed him into adulthood: He is currently a member in good standing of the Baker Street Irregulars.) One of the most fascinating revelations contained in this slender and lively volume concerns the sheer number of works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that have nothing whatever to do with Sherlock Holmes. No [...]

    • Tim says:

      Dirda's On Conan Doyle is part memoir and part a passionate examination of the creator of Sherlock Holmes and his writings as a whole. Yes, Dirda is a Baker Street Irregular and he does love the mysteries, but he also wants to recommend the wider writings, including The Lost World, the Brigadier Gerard, and other ghost and adventure stories. It is not always consistently interesting, but its brevity and Dirda's enthusiasms have only broadened my reading desires (which free e-books and Librivox h [...]

    • Larry says:

      Dirda's love affair with the works of Conan Doyle (and with associated writers like R. Austin Freeman, Jacques Futrelle, Chesterton, Rider Haggard, etc.) makes pleasant reading because it reminds me of how exciting books were when I was a kid. They still are, of course, but his enthusiasm for his early reading is contagious.) He also gives a good reading of Doyle's major characters (Holmes, Challoner, Gerard), though others provide more analysis. It's a short book but a pleasant read.

    • David Macpherson says:

      I have a thing for books that start with "On" I have On boxing, On Michael Jackson, On Bullshit. You want me to read a book, start it with On.With that said, this was a fun wee book about Dirda's love of Conan Doyle. It really is his story and how he apporaches the work. In the back Blurb by Neil Gaiman, he describes it as talking with a buddy about an author both of you like and that is exactly how it felt.

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