Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-7jw6s Total loading time: 0.414 Render date: 2022-12-03T10:29:13.794Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

15 - This Circle of Misery and Violence and Fear

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2021

Andrew Glazzard
Affiliation:
Royal United Services Institute
Get access

Summary

‘The Cardboard Box’ is a strange story with an unusual textual history. First published in the Strand Magazine in January 1893, it was the only story of the series left out of the first English edition of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (published by George Newnes later the same year). It made it into the first American edition, published by Harper in 1894, only to be removed from later American editions. Its disappearance from the Memoirs led to some significant cutting and pasting: a nineteen-paragraph exchange between Holmes and Watson in Baker Street was taken from the opening of ‘The Cardboard Box’ and moved to ‘The Adventure of the Resident Patient’ (1893), where it replaced one and a half paragraphs of introductory material, changing the setting of ‘The Resident Patient’ from a ‘boisterous’ autumn to a boiling summer (and causing some strange meteorological phenomena in the process). ‘The Cardboard Box’ remained suppressed for over two decades. Its inclusion in His Last Bow in 1917, making up the weight of what would otherwise have been a slim volume, is an anomalous intrusion of the nineteenth century into stories written in and often explicitly concerned with the twentieth: ‘His Last Bow’, for example, is set in 1914, features a motor car, and mentions aeroplanes, Zeppelins, and Marconi. ‘The Cardboard Box’ is also textually anomalous, and has created particular problems for Doyle's editors. Does it belong in The Memoirs or His Last Bow? Should the long passage attached to ‘The Resident Patient’ remain in that story, or revert to its original location? (Some collected editions of the Holmes stories allowed it to remain in both.) Behind these questions lies a much more fundamental one: why did Doyle have second thoughts about the story in 1893, before deciding to reinstate it to the Holmes saga in 1917?

Doyle himself gave conflicting, and unconvincing, explanations. In one letter he said that the story, in which Jim Browner murders his wife Mary Cushing and her lover Alex Fairbairn, and then takes a grotesque revenge on his sister-in-law, ‘is rather more sensational than I care for’; in another he said that ‘a tale involving sex was out of place in a collection designed for boys’. But elsewhere Doyle also said that the story was too ‘weak’ to be included in the Memoirs.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Case of Sherlock Holmes
Secrets and Lies in Conan Doyle's Detective Fiction
, pp. 159 - 168
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2018

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×