As readers of my “Lens” columns may remember, I am a devout Holmesian. I am also a proud iPad owner, and I love free things. (Yes, I’m American.) Yet I find myself strangely unsettled by today’s “Open Culture” post: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Now Free on the Kindle:
It’s surely worth giving you the quick heads up that, starting today, “the complete collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, both long and short, have been compiled together for the first time.”
Now, the price is most assuredly right. And Doyle’s stories — a decisive factor in my childhood onset bibliophilism — are as beloved to me as anything I have ever read. So this news seems to me a blessing of an extremely obvious kind, right?
Wrong. I cannot embrace it, for I am unable to separate my beloved Sherlock from the equally beloved images of Sydney Paget that graced the pages of my well-thumbed “Complete Holmes.” I know that the author criticized Paget’s work — he rendered the sleuth entirely too handsome for Doyle’s tastes, apparently — but they are as ingrained in my childhood as the stories themselves. And no Paget-free ebook can change that, no matter how convenient (or free) it may be.
The Paget-Drawn Holmes: accept no substitutes.