Response #28

I was very excited to start reading Gaudy Night for the mere reason of it featuring a female detective. I loved reading the Nancy Drew books when I was younger so I was hoping for a very Nancy Drew experience while reading Gaudy Night. Although I did not like Harriet as much as Nancy as far as female detectives go, I still enjoyed seeing a lady detective in action. So far we have only seen the men taking the lead on these mysteries.

While researching Dorothy L. Sayers and Gaudy Night, I found that Sayers attended a school quite similar to Shrewsbury College in the novel. Several people claimed that Harriet is Sayers and Shrewsbury is Somerville, where Sayers attended school. After learning this, it was very interesting to read the rest of the novel.

In the novel, there is talk about a woman’s proper role in society as being a housewife. It is clear that there are still some blurred lines when it comes to the acceptance of a woman getting a higher education. Harriet has done well for herself as a writer and seems a bit let down by the women who were in her class who have seemed to go nowhere in their lives. It’s hard to read this novel and understand the issue of women achieving a higher education because it is fully accepted in our society today. I can’t imagine living in a society where being an educated woman was looked down upon. I’m very thankful to be living in the time that I am.

 

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Response #24: The Not-So-Secret Garden

The title says, “The Secret Garden,” and although there are no entrances to the garden from the outside world, Father Brown appears to us first in the corner of the garden as if he knows a way in that we don’t. Even though he entered the garden through the house, as we find out later, it’s peculiar that his first appearance in the story should be as if he apparated into the story from the outside world.

That’s the peculiarity of Father Brown, though. You really never know what this little man is up to. He just drifts in and out of the story so gracefully.

In “The Secret Garden,” Father Brown detects that the host of the party, blah blah blah, is actually the murderer of two victims. The disturbing way in which the bodies are found (both decapitated and body parts switched) would be enough to throw anyone for a loop, but not Father Brown. He followed the scheme as if he watched it happen (which he may have considering he just appears out of nowhere).

I really wish the story was told from the perspective of his assistant or partner instead of a third person narrator. I think the stories are really lacking a connection with the readers. If only Chesterton had told the stories through Father Brown’s eyes or someone close to him, the stories would have much more depth and be a lot more fun and interesting to read. Instead, we are left wondering what is going on inside little Father Brown’s head. The way in which he solves the mysteries seems to be through his knowledge of the dark corners of the human mind, which has been revealed to him over time through confessions in his parish.

The first mental picture I created of Father Brown looks something like this (Griphook the goblin from Harry Potter):

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Obviously, this is way off because this is a picture of a goblin, and Father Brown is a man. I just happen to picture Harry Potter characters when reading any book now, I guess. It’s engrained in my mind after dedicating so many years of my life to the wonderful series. A price I am willing to pay.

 

While it turns out, he looks more along the lines of this:

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I see where they’re coming from, I guess. I think Griphook as Father Brown would have been much more interesting, though. Interestingly enough, the actor portraying Father Brown in the above photo is the same actor who played Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movie series. I guess my Harry Potter reference wasn’t too far off after all.

Response #23: Oh, Father Brown

Oh, Father Brown.

Thank you for redeeming the detective name after Raffles and Bunny put a sour taste in my mouth.

I wasn’t really sure how I felt about Father Brown after reading the first story, “The Secret Garden.” The storytelling is done in such a different way than what we have been reading thus far in this class. There is no narrator, which is one of the main difference I noticed in this series of stories. We are given the story in third person. I did not enjoy the point-of-view of this story after getting used to a narrator in the previous readings. I like being able to get inside a characters head and seeing things from their point-of-view, but we don’t get that in the Father Brown stories.

Father Brown is quite a peculiar little man (literally). I found his entrances into each story as a surprise, and often I found myself trying to guess when and where our little detective would appear in the story. I really enjoyed reading “The Secret Garden.” I was not expecting the ending to turn out as it did.

As for the way Father Brown detects, I really can’t put my finger on what it is about his techniques. It’s obviously not deductive like Sherlock Holmes, but since we aren’t given a background of Father Brown or a narrator who knows him well, it’s hard to pinpoint where his reasoning is coming from. Maybe it’s his years of hearing confessions and getting glimpses of the dark side of the human mind, or maybe he’s just intuitive. Whatever it is, Brown is able to think like a criminal and solve the mysteries.

Response #19: Cricket & Gentlemen

While reading the story “Gentlemen and Players,” I noticed a few different things that stuck out to me as being a part of British society: cricket and gentlemen.

The story really focuses a lot on the sport of cricket, and the whole time they were talking about it in the story, I was picturing croquet. I don’t know why I was getting the two confused because they are two very different things.

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This is cricket.

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This is croquet.

Two very different things. No wonder I was so confused when reading the short description of the game in the story. I had it all wrong in my head, but once I sorted things out, it all made much more sense. Now I understand why it is referred to in the text as “poor man’s baseball.” After reading that, I realized my idea of cricket was off. Cricket actually originated in England in the 16th century. I assume it to be the equivalent of baseball in America even though it may not be as popular as baseball is here in the U.S. For the sake of this blog, we’ll assume it is.

Another thing I noticed about British culture in the story is the reputation of gentlemen. Raffles is considered to be a gentleman, but he is also a thief. It would be easier to understand his actions if he was some ruffian on the street looking for a quick way to make money, but Raffles is an upstanding gentleman in English society who chooses to be a thief. I don’t quite understand it. I think he could find a better way to make money, marry rich even! Just anything but stealing, Raffles! Geez!

Sidenote: Do gentlemen still exist in our world today? I feel like it’s a strictly Victorian era type thing.

Response #18: Set Up For Failure

When I first started reading the stories in The Amateur Cracksman, I was quite disappointed. Coming right off of the Sherlock Holmes stories set Raffles up for immediate failure in my eyes. At times I found it difficult to follow along with the action of the story and I often had to reread sections to make sure I was getting all the information. After reading a few stories, I began to get more comfortable with Raffles and Bunny and enjoyed the stories more.

I don’t see The Amateur Cracksman as a set of detective fiction stories, but if they weren’t, why would they be on the list for this class. Raffles and Bunny did detect some things in all of the stories, but I was so caught up in their scheming to steal things that I neglected the detective part. It’s weird because they’re fighting against bad guys, but they themselves could also be classified as bad guys because of their line of work.

It’s easy to see Raffles and Bunny as a Holmes/Watson parody. Holmes solves crimes;Raffles commits them. Bunny and Watson are just along for the ride to serve as the eyes and ears of the readers. There is an obvious connection between the four characters because of E.W. Hornung’s familial connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

All in all, I think Raffles is a very compelling character. He’s referred to as a “gentleman burglar,” which is a very interesting paradox. Yet, he’s very clever because he surrounds himself with the rich and well-to-do by day and robs them by night. Sneaky, sneaky.

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Response #14

Honestly, I tried so hard to keep up with Holmes while reading, but it was so hard. When I thought I had something figured out, I would be immediately proved wrong by Holmes’ impressive deductive reasoning. I really want to master deductive reasoning because that would be such a cool party trick. Right? But I would probably only be able to get as far as Dr. Watson with the deductions upon meeting a person. I don’t know how Holmes does it! I liked the short stories because they were quick and easy read. It was interesting to see Holmes outwitted by a woman in “A Scandal In Bohemia.” I never saw that coming! You go girl!

I haven’t been able to predict an outcome yet. I can figure out bits and pieces like Watson, but I can’t seem to put together how they all relate to each other. Sir Conan Doyle is one heck of a detective writer! The most interesting part of the stories and the thing I looked forward to the most was watching Holmes reveal to Watson and the reader how he came to his conclusion. It’s brilliant and fascinating. I am frustrated that often in the short stories there is a gap where Holmes goes missing and then all of a sudden he returns with a grand plan to solve the mystery. He already knows everything about the mystery, but the reader and Watson are left in the dark until the very end of the story when Holmes unloads all of his reasoning at once. All in all, I am sure that I will read more of the Holmes short stories in the future because of the pure entertainment I find in reading them.

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Response #13

Before enrolling in this class, I had never read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories or seen any of the film adaptations, but because of the notoriety of the name, I was already familiar with the character of Sherlock Holmes. I was less familiar with Dr. John Watson though. I only knew that he was Holmes’ sidekick.

I was very excited to begin reading the stories because I have always heard such great things about them, but I never got around to reading them. I was immediately impressed Doyle’s style of writing. It’s very easy to follow and fun to read. I was surprised to find that A Study In Scarlet is written from Dr. Watson’s perspective. I expected Holmes to be the narrator, but I am glad that we get to view Holmes from an outside perspective. I feel like the inner workings of his mind would be a dangerous and confusing place to be.

I didn’t enjoy the structure while I was reading it, but afterwards, I appreciated it. I just wanted to find out who the murderer was, but Doyle had other plans. I did really enjoy the backstory of Jefferson Hope, but once that ended and went back to Holmes and Watson, it took me a little while to get back into that story. Overall, I thought the book was amazing. I found myself awed by Holmes’ deductive reasoning. I now understand why he is the most popular literary detective of all time.

I loved what P.D. James had to say about Holmes in her book. She brought into question his use of money. Obviously, he is a well-known detective who makes a lot of money because of his dealings with the rich and famous. The peculiar thing is that he lives in a small apartment where he splits rent with Watson and always mentions that he is poor. James wondered where the money he makes goes.

I love the complexity of Holmes. It’s really impossible to figure him out and I love that about him. He’s got so many different character traits. One minute he’s running around frivolously trying to figure out a mystery and the next he’s lying on the couch for days on a cocaine binge. While it may be frustrating for Watson, it’s nothing but pure entertainment for readers. I do get frustrated with him at times though because of his arrogant behavior. It’s a little off putting in my opinion.

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