ACTUALLY, SINCE T.A.o.S.H. IS THE first published collection of all Sherlock Holmes stories, here is (also) the First Graf of “A Scandal In Bohemia,” being the first of the tales in said collection. It’s unfortunate that Sherlock Holmes has become a bit of cultural cliche and byword, but it can’t be helped — our culture is steeped in such cliches, where what was once seminal now comes off as derivative. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation, whom he eventually tired of and tried killing-off only to find that the clamorous 19th-Century reading “publick” would have none of it, stands on his own eternal literary measure. A little taste to whet the appetite, then?
TO SHERLOCK HOLMES she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer — excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.