Monday, January 31, 2011

Ronald Knox

Many are aware of the debate on whether or not the beginning of "The Great Game" among Sherlockians began with Ronald Knox's presentation in 1911 (and later publication in 1912). It is quite possible that Messrs Lellenberg and Sveum came across the following in their research, but I add it here all the same in the belief that part of the evidence should be the praxis of the Sherlockian community in how they refer to "the Game." This from J. Randolph Cox in Baker Stree Miscellanea, no. 40 (Winter 1984), page 25 (for which Mr. Lellenberg was a contributing editor):
From the start the meetings [of the Baker Street Irregulars] featured the presentation of "scholarly" papers, focusing on presumed inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the Holmes Canon. As students versed in the history of the sodality are aware, the earliest of these were intended as spoofs of the so-called "higher criticism" as applied to the Bible (the first such, Ronald Knox's 1912 "Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes", established the pattern), and later as gentle jokes at the expense of other examples of academic excess. Over the years, the whimsy has become so refined, and the satire so subtle, that the nonsense is often indistinguishable from the models. Which may be why more than a few of the movement's detractors, oblivious to the leg-pulling, have been academics themselves.
Some, in arguing against the Knox thesis, may say that the praxis is in error, that it is unorthodox or heretical. Such may be the case. Or perhaps might makes right.

1 comment:

Molly Carr said...

Agree entirely - but we seem to have lost our sense of humour since 1911 Trying to get copy of 1912 essay but http/etc provided by a friend didn't work. Can you help? I feel Mgr Knox anticipated my "The Sign of Fear" in his mathematics of the canon!