Daily Archives: December 28, 2009
As an adult rereading Holmes with a more critical, demanding eye, however, I find the stories thin, unexciting, sometimes confusing, and almost always quickly forgotten. The characters are still deathless, the atmosphere nicely judged and subtly stoked, and Conan Doyle’s writing isn’t half so clumsy or overwrought as many of his peers’. But, as with Faulks’s Bond pastiche, not much seems to happen in Sherlock Holmes tales.
I’ve been thinking about taking a stab at rereading Holmes, but Darragh McManus has me nervous.
This cockroach-like existence is cumulatively intolerable even though on any given night it is perfectly manageable. “Cockroach” is of course an allusion to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, in which the protagonist wakes up one morning to discover that he has been transformed into an insect. The point of the story is as much the responses and incomprehension of his family as it is the account of his own sensations, and it is hard to resist the thought that even the best-meaning and most generously thoughtful friend or relative cannot hope to understand the sense of isolation and imprisonment that this disease imposes upon its victims. Helplessness is humiliating even in a passing crisis—imagine or recall some occasion when you have fallen down or otherwise required physical assistance from strangers. Imagine the mind’s response to the knowledge that the peculiarly humiliating helplessness of ALS is a life sentence (we speak blithely of death sentences in this connection, but actually the latter would be a relief).
From Tony Judt’s profoundly moving essay, “Night.”