The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of the four crime novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin. Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson investigate the case. This was the first appearance of Holmes since his apparent death in "The Final Problem", and the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to the character's eventual revival.[2]

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Cover of the first edition
AuthorArthur Conan Doyle
IllustratorSidney Paget
Cover artistAlfred Garth Jones
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
SeriesSherlock Holmes
GenreDetective fiction
PublisherGeorge Newnes
Publication date
1902[1]
Preceded byThe Final Problem (last story of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes) 
Followed byThe Return of Sherlock Holmes 
TextThe Hound of the Baskervilles at Wikisource

One of the most famous stories ever written,[2] in 2003, the book was listed as number 128 of 200 on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's "best-loved novel".[3] In 1999, it was listed as the top Holmes novel, with a perfect rating from Sherlockian scholars of 100.[4]

Plot

Dr James Mortimer asks Sherlock Holmes for advice after his friend Sir Charles Baskerville was found dead in the park surrounding his manor, in the moors of Devon. The death was attributed to a heart attack, but according to Mortimer, Sir Charles's face retained an expression of horror, and not far from the corpse the footprints of a gigantic hound were clearly visible. According to an old legend, a curse runs in the Baskerville family since the time of the English Civil War, when a Sir Hugo Baskerville abducted and murdered a woman in the mires of Dartmoor, only to be killed in turn by a huge demonic hound. Allegedly the same creature has been haunting the place ever since, causing the premature death of many Baskerville heirs. Sir Charles believed in the plague of the hound and so does Mortimer, who now fears for the next in line, Sir Henry Baskerville.

Even though he dismisses the whole curse story as nonsense, Holmes agrees to meet Sir Henry in London as soon as Sir Henry arrives from Canada, where his branch of the family had moved in the past. He is a young and jovial good-looking fellow, sceptical toward the grim legend and eager to take possession of Baskerville Hall, even though he has just found an anonymous note in the mail, warning him to stay away from the moor. When someone tries to shoot Sir Henry while he is walking down a street, however, Holmes asks Watson to go with the young man and Mortimer to Dartmoor, in order to protect Sir Henry and search for any clue about who is menacing his life.

The trio arrives at Baskerville Hall, an old and imposing manor in the middle of a vast park, managed by a butler and his wife the housekeeper. The estate is surrounded by the moor and borders the Grimpen Mire, where animals and humans can sink to death in quicksand. The news that a convict has escaped from the local gaol and is hiding in the nearby hills adds to the barren landscape and the gloomy atmosphere.

There are inexplicable events during the first night, keeping the guests awake, and only in the daylight can Watson and Sir Henry relax while exploring the neighborhood and meeting the scarce but peculiar residents of Dartmoor. Watson keeps on searching for any lead to the identity of whoever is threatening Sir Henry's life, and faithfully telegraphs the details of his investigation to Holmes. Among the residents, the Stapletons, brother and sister, stand out: Jack is overfriendly and a bit too curious toward the newly arrived, while Beryl, a rare beauty, seems all too weary of the place.

Distant howls and strange sightings trouble Watson during his long walks on the hills, and his mood gets no better even inside Baskerville Hall. Watson grows suspicious of the butler, who at night acts as if he was signalling from a window of the house with a candle to someone on the moor. Meanwhile, Sir Henry is drawn to Beryl, who seems to be afraid of her brother's opinion on the matter. To make the puzzle more complex there are Mortimer, maybe too eager to convince Sir Henry that the curse is real; an old and grumpy neighbour, who likes to pry with his telescope into other people's houses; his daughter Laura, who had unclear ties to Sir Charles; and even a bearded man roaming free in the hills and apparently hiding on a tor where ancient tombs have been excavated by Stapleton for an unclear purpose.

Unknown to everyone, even to his friend Watson, Sherlock Holmes has been hiding in the moor all the time and has solved the mystery. He reveals that the hound is real and belongs to Stapleton, who seduced Laura and convinced her to lure Sir Charles out of his house by night, in order to frighten him with the apparition of the legendary hound. Beryl is indeed Jack's legitimate wife, abused and forced into posing as his sister to seduce Sir Henry and expose him also to the fangs of the hound.

Unfortunately the collected evidence is not enough for a jury to condemn Stapleton, so Holmes decides to use young Baskerville as a bait to catch the criminal red-handed. Sir Henry will accept an invitation to Stapleton's house and will walk back after dark, giving his enemy every chance to unleash the hound on him. Holmes and Watson pretend to leave Dartmoor by train, but instead they hide near Stapleton's house with Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Despite the dark and a thick fog, Holmes and Watson are able to kill the fearsome beast as soon as it attacks the designated victim, while Stapleton, in his panicked flight from the scene, drowns in the mire.[5]

Origins and background

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote this story shortly after returning to his home Undershaw from South Africa, where he had worked as a volunteer physician at the Langman Field Hospital in Bloemfontein during the Second Boer War. He had not written about Sherlock Holmes in eight years, having killed off the character in the 1893 story "The Final Problem". Although The Hound of the Baskervilles is set before the latter events, two years later Conan Doyle brought Holmes back for good, explaining in "The Adventure of the Empty House" that Holmes had faked his own death.

He was assisted with the plot by a 30-year-old Daily Express journalist named Bertram Fletcher Robinson (1870–1907).

Inspiration

His ideas came from the legend of Squire Richard Cabell of Brook Hall, in the parish of Buckfastleigh, Devon,[6] which was the fundamental inspiration for the Baskerville tale of a hellish hound and a cursed country squire. Cabell's tomb survives in the village of Buckfastleigh.[7][8]

Cabell lived for hunting, and was what in those days was described as a "monstrously evil man". He gained this reputation, amongst other things, for immorality and having sold his soul to the Devil. There was also a rumour that he had murdered his wife, Elizabeth Fowell, a daughter of Sir Edmund Fowell, 1st Baronet (1593–1674), of Fowelscombe.[9] On 5 July 1677, he died and was buried in the sepulchre. The night of his interment saw a phantom pack of hounds come baying across the moor to howl at his tomb. From that night on, he could be found leading the phantom pack across the moor, usually on the anniversary of his death. If the pack were not out hunting, they could be found ranging around his grave howling and shrieking. To try to lay the soul to rest, the villagers built a large building around the tomb, and to be doubly sure a huge slab was placed.[10]

Moreover, Devon's folklore includes tales of a fearsome supernatural dog known as the Yeth hound that Conan Doyle may have heard.

Weller (2002) believes that Baskerville Hall is based on one of three possible houses on or near Dartmoor:[11] Fowelscombe in the parish of Ugborough, the seat of the Fowell Baronets; Hayford Hall, near Buckfastleigh (also owned by John King (d.1861) of Fowelscombe) and Brook Hall, in the parish of Buckfastleigh, about two miles east of Hayford, the actual home of Richard Cabell.[6] It has also been claimed that Baskerville Hall is based on a property in Mid Wales, built in 1839 by one Thomas Mynors Baskerville. The house was formerly named Clyro Court and was renamed Baskerville Hall towards the end of the last century. Arthur Conan Doyle was apparently a family friend who often stayed there and may have been aware of a local legend of the hound of the Baskervilles.[12]

Still other tales claim that Conan Doyle was inspired by a holiday in North Norfolk, where the tale of Black Shuck is well known. The pre-Gothic Cromer Hall, where Conan Doyle stayed, also closely resembles Doyle's vivid descriptions of Baskerville Hall.[13]

James Lynam Molloy, a friend of Doyle's, and author of 'Love's Old Sweet Song', married Florence Baskerville, daughter of Henry Baskerville of Crowsley Park, Oxfordshire. The gates to the park had statues of hell hounds, spears through their mouths. Above the lintel there was another statue of a hell hound.

Original manuscript

In 1902, Doyle's original manuscript of the book was broken up into individual leaves as part of a promotional campaign by Doyle's American publisher – they were used in window displays by individual booksellers. Out of an estimated 185-190 leaves, only 36 are known still to exist, including all the leaves from Chapter 11, held by the New York Public Library. Other leaves are owned by university libraries and private collectors.[14] A newly rediscovered example was sold at auction in 2012 for US$158,500.[15]

Technique

The novel uses many traditional novelistic techniques which had been largely abandoned by the time of writing, such as letters, diary extracts, interpolated manuscripts, and the like, as seen in the works of Henry Fielding and, later, Wilkie Collins. It incorporates five plots: the ostensible 'curse' story, the two red-herring subplots concerning Selden and the other stranger living on the moor, the actual events occurring to Baskerville as narrated by Watson, and the hidden plot to be discovered by Holmes. Doyle wrote that the novel was originally conceived as a straight 'Victorian creeper' (as seen in the works of J. Sheridan Le Fanu), with the idea of introducing Holmes as the deus ex machina only arising later.

Publication

The Hound of the Baskervilles was first serialized in The Strand Magazine in 1901. It was well-suited for this type of publication, as individual chapters end in cliffhangers. It was printed in the form of a novel the following year.[16]

Adaptations

The Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted for many media.

Film and television adaptations

Over 20 film and television versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles have been made.

YearTitleCountryDirectorHolmesWatson
1914Der Hund von Baskerville, 1. TeilGermanyRudolf MeinertAlwin NeußNone
1914Der Hund von Baskerville, 2. Teil — Das einsame Haus
1914Der Hund von Baskerville, 3. Teil — Das unheimliche ZimmerRichard Oswald
1915Der Hund von Baskerville, 4. Teil
1920Das dunkle SchloßWilly ZeynEugen BurgNone
1920Das Haus ohne FensterErich Kaiser-Titz
1920Dr. MacDonalds Sanatorium
1921The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited KingdomMaurice ElveyEille NorwoodHubert Willis
1929Der Hund von BaskervilleGermanyRichard OswaldCarlyle BlackwellGeorge Seroff
1932The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited KingdomGareth GundreyRobert RendelFrederick Lloyd
1937The Hound of the BaskervillesGermanyCarl LamacBruno GüttnerFritz Odemar
1939The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited StatesSidney LanfieldBasil RathboneNigel Bruce
1951 JighansaIndiaAjoy KarSishir Batabyal
as Detective Smarajit Sen
?
1955Der Hund von BaskervilleWest GermanyFritz UmgelterWolf AckvaArnulf Schröder
1959The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited KingdomTerence FisherPeter CushingAndré Morell
1962Bees Saal Baad[17](based on H. K. Roy's Nishachari Bibhishika,[18]
the Bengali adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles.[19])
IndiaBiren NagAsit Sen
as Detective Gopichand
?
1968Sherlock Holmes - "The Hound of the Baskervilles"[20]United KingdomGraham EvansPeter CushingNigel Stock
1968Sherlock Holmes - "L'ultimo dei Baskerville"[21]ItalyGuglielmo MorandiNando GazzoloGianni Bonagura
1971The Hound of the Baskervilles (Собака Баскервилей)[22]USSRA. F. ZinovievaNikolay VolkovLev Krugliy
1972The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited StatesBarry CraneStewart GrangerBernard Fox
1978The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited KingdomPaul MorrisseyPeter CookDudley Moore
1981The Hound of the Baskervilles (Собака Баскервилей)USSRIgor MaslennikovVasilij LivanovVitali Solomin
1982The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited KingdomPeter DuguidTom BakerTerence Rigby
1983The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited KingdomDouglas HickoxIan RichardsonDonald Churchill
1983Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville CurseAustraliaIan McKenzie & Alex NicholasPeter O'Toole (voice)Earle Cross (voice)
1988The Return of Sherlock Holmes - "The Hound of the Baskervilles"[23]United KingdomBrian MillsJeremy BrettEdward Hardwicke
1995Wishbone - "The Slobbery Hound"[24]United StatesFred Holmes"Wishbone"
(Soccer the Dog, voice of Larry Brantley)
Ric Speigel
1999Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century - "The Hounds of the Baskervilles"[25]United States,
United Kingdom
Robert Brousseau, Scott HemingJason Gray-StanfordJohn Payne
2000The Hound of the BaskervillesCanadaRodney GibbonsMatt FrewerKenneth Welsh
2002The Hound of the BaskervillesUnited KingdomDavid AttwoodRichard RoxburghIan Hart
2012Sherlock - "The Hounds of Baskerville"[26]United KingdomPaul McGuiganBenedict CumberbatchMartin Freeman
2015The Adventure of Henry Baskerville and a Dog
(Basukāviru kun to inu no bōken, バスカーヴィル君と犬の冒険)[27]
JapanMichiyo MoritaKōichi Yamadera (voice)Wataru Takagi (voice)
2016Elementary - "Hounded"[28]United StatesRobert Hewitt WolfeJonny Lee MillerLucy Liu

Audio

The Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted for radio for the BBC by Bert Coules on two occasions. The first starred Roger Rees as Holmes and Crawford Logan as Watson and was broadcast in 1988 on BBC Radio 4. Following its good reception, Coules proposed further radio adaptations, which eventually led to the dramatisation of the entire canon for radio, starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson.[29] The second adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, featuring this pairing, was broadcast in 1998, and also featured Judi Dench as Mrs Hudson and Donald Sinden as Sir Charles Baskerville.[30]

In 2014 L.A. Theatre Works released their production, starring Seamus Dever as Holmes, Geoffrey Arend as Watson, James Marsters as Sir Henry, Sarah Drew as Beryl Stapleton, Wilson Bethel as Stapleton, Henri Lubatti as Dr Mortimer, Christopher Neame as Sir Charles and Frankland, Moira Quirk as Mrs Hudson & Mrs Barrymore, and Darren Richardson as Barrymore.

Stage

In 2007, Peepolykus Theatre Company premiered a new adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Adapted by John Nicholson and Steven Canny, the production involves only three actors and was praised by critics for its physical comedy. Following a UK tour, it transferred to the Duchess Theatre in London's West End. The Daily Telegraph described it as a 'wonderfully delightful spoof', whilst The Sunday Times praised its 'mad hilarity that will make you feel quite sane'. This adaptation continues to be presented by both amateur and professional companies around the world.[31]

Ken Ludwig authored an adaptation entitled Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery which premiered as a co-production at Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.) in January 2015 and McCarter Theatre Center in March 2015.[32]

Video games

The Hound of Baskervilles serves as the primary inspiration for the final case in Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken in which the protagonist teams up with Sherlock Holmes to investigate mysteries based on various entries in the Holmes chronology.

Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles is a casual game by Frogwares. It departs from the original plot by introducing clear supernatural elements. Despite its non-canonical plot, it received good reviews.[33]

Critical reception

On November 5, 2019, the BBC News listed The Hound of the Baskervilles on its list of the 100 most influential novels.[35]

See also

References

  1. "Facsimile of the 1st edition (1902)". S4ulanguages.com. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  2. Rendell, Ruth (12 September 2008). "A most serious and extraordinary problem". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  3. "BBC - The Big Read". BBC. April 2003, Retrieved 31 October 2012
  4. "The Best Sherlock Holmes Stories". Bestofsherlock.com. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  5. Connan-Doyle, Arthur, Sir. The Hound of the Baskervilles. Project Gutenberg.
  6. Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.125, pedigree of Cabell of Buckfastleigh
  7. Spiring, Paul (2007). "Hugo Baskerville & Squire Richard Cabell III". BFROnline. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  8. "Cabell Tomb — Buckfastleigh". Devon Guide. 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  9. Vivian, pp.125,370
  10. "Buckfastleigh Church". Legendary Dartmoor. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
  11. Weller, Philip, The Hound Of The Baskervilles - Hunting the Dartmoor Legend, Devon Books, Halsgrove Publishing, c.2002, quoted in
  12. "Mansion said to have inspired The Hound of the Baskervilles on sale for £3m". Wales Online.
  13. http://www.bbc.co.uk/norfolk/weird/weird_sherlock_holmes.shtml
  14. Stock, Randall (10 June 2013). "The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Manuscript Census". bestofsherlock.com. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  15. "DOYLE, Sir Arthur Conan (1859-1930). Autograph manuscript leaf from The Hound of the Baskervilles, first serialized in The Strand Magazine, August 1901-April 1902, published in book form by George Newnes, on 25 March 1902". Christies. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  16. "Publication of the Hound of the Baskervilles". History Today.
  17. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055783/
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. Chatterjee, ed. board Gulzar, Govind Nihalani, Saibal (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi cinema. New Delhi: Encyclopædia Britannica. p. 659. ISBN 978-81-7991-066-5.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  20. Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 182. ISBN 978-1-903111-04-8.
  21. "L'Ultimo dei Baskerville (TV episode 1968)". The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  22. Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 140. ISBN 9780857687760.
  23. O'Connor, John J. (8 December 1988). "Review/Television; Holmes, Hounds and Haunted Halls". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  24. "Wishbone". TV Guide. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  25. "Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century". TV Guide. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  26. Teti, John (11 March 2016). "Sherlock: "The Hounds Of Baskerville"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  27. The episode is based on "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" also.
  28. Valentine, Genevieve (11 March 2016). "Elementary aims high and falls short on adaptation". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  29. Bert Coules. "The Background". The BBC complete audio Sherlock Holmes. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  30. Bert Coules. "The Hound of the Baskervilles". The BBC complete audio Sherlock Holmes. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  31. "Licencing, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Peepolykus Theatre Company". Peepolykus.com. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  32. Purcell, Carey (15 January 2015). "Ken Ludwig's Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Makes World Premiere Tonight". Playbill. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  33. "Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles". bigfishgames.com. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  34. Uncle Scrooge #29, Dell, 1960.
  35. "100 'most inspiring' novels revealed by BBC Arts". BBC News. 5 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019. The reveal kickstarts the BBC's year-long celebration of literature.
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