Tuesday 3 June 2014

Rediscovering The Hound of the Baskervilles in Devon

My next holidays, and the first summer holidays I had in years (literally), will be in Devon, which I have never seen yet, but been wanting to see for quite a while. They are not until a little while, but I have already started preparing them. It means, apart from finding accommodations and places to visit (which the Devon has plenty of), finding books to read for the journey and my time there. It was easy for me: I bought The Hound of the Baskervilles in this bookshop. I choose the books I read according to seasons, I also choose them according to some settings. The novel being mainly set in Devon, I thought it was the perfect occasion to rediscover it. I had read the novel decades ago, in French, when I was still a child. It was not my first Sherlock Holmes story, but it was my first Sherlock Holmes novel. And such a great read too.

I am surprised I did not decide to rediscover it earlier. I guess because there are so many books to read, I forget there are so many books to reread. What I loved about it, apart from its atmosphere, was the elements of veiled supernatural, never becoming concrete of course: in the end, the old legend of the demonic hound is rationalized. Evil in old crime fiction, like in new crime fiction, is most definitely human in origins. Then again, the story is inspired about British folklore, the hellhound legends, very potent and evocative in itself. I am sometimes almost disappointed that Arthur Conan Doyle made a Sherlock Holmes adventure of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Keep the supernatural, take away Sherlock Holmes, and it could have made a brilliant horror novel. In a way, I will read it as a transitional novel, getting myself in the mood for horror stories while enjoying a great classic crime novel. In any case, it is a great atmospheric book and I cannot wait to read it where it is set.


jaz@octoberfarm said...

what a great idea. i have never read this book. reading books in the original language is so much better. i was shocked what i got out of reading kafka in german after having read it in english.

Guillaume said...

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a classic, I encourage you to read it. And Conan Doyle knew how to write.