Canon Thursday: Quintessential Moment

Today’s question is simple. If someone asked you who Sherlock Holmes is, what moment from the canon would you describe as the Holmes moment, the moment when he acts the most like himself?




7 thoughts on “Canon Thursday: Quintessential Moment

  1. There are many key moments in The Canon where Holmes reveal his unique character. Here are a few off the top of my head.

    1) His revelation at breakfast, the final reveal, of The Naval Treaty.

    2) ”I’d like to draw your attention to the curious incident of the dog in the night time.”

    3) Offering to play a rubber of whist while waiting in the bank vault in the Red-Headed League.

    4) “The most winning woman I ever knew was hung for murdering three small children for their insurance money.”

    5) Canceling his own vacation to follow up a mystery, like in Reigate Squires and The Devil’s Foot.

    6) Experimenting on himself and Watson with that deadly poison in The Devil’s Foot, with no thought of the danger.

    7) Also from “The Devil’s Foot “:

    Holmes: I followed you.
    Sterndale: But I saw no one.
    Holmes: That is what you can expect to see when I follow you.

  2. Larry, you beat me to it, but I’d make Silver Blaze number one. And I would add the Six Napoleons:

    “Well, that’s likely enough. But I wish to call your attention very particularly to the position of this house, in the garden of which the bust was destroyed.”

    Lestrade looked about him.

    “It was an empty house, and so he knew that he would not be disturbed in the garden.”

    “Yes, but there is another empty house farther up the street which he must have passed before he came to this one. Why did he not break it there, since it is evident that every yard that he carried it increased the risk of someone meeting him?”

    “I give it up,” said Lestrade.

    Holmes pointed to the street lamp above our heads.

    “He could see what he was doing here, and he could not there. That was his reason.”

  3. The moment in “A Study in Scarlet,” when Watson discovers he has no knowledge of planetary movement, and when Watson explains the basics, Holmes thanks him and then tells him he intends to forget about it, that it was irrelevant and took up space in his mind. The end of the conversation as follows:

    “But the Solar System!” I protested.
    “What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that
    we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a
    pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

    Yup–screw you and your solar system: I need that space for phrenology.

  4. I think my favorite — and ‘most Holmesian — moments are in Study in Scarlet when he first meets Watson. “You have been in Afghanistan, I presume?” And then in Sign of the Four, when Watson asks if he can put Holmes’s deductive powers to the test and hands him his deceased brother’s watch. Those two moments, the pure, undiluted essence of Holmes’s deductive powers, the thought process done in mere seconds, is what truly resembles Holmes to me.

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