Post #2: On Intended Audience

After our class discussion on A Study in Scarlet, I began to think more about the intended audience for Sherlock Holmes. Firstly, about the illustrations that accompanied the text. Comics and illustrations have long been a useful tactic in engaging and aiding new readers. What often comes to mind are children’s books, which were mentioned in class, but what I am reminded of are the military comics. Here’s one called How To Strip Your Baby. And while I read Sherlock as a child, I don’t believe children were the target demographic of these stories. As you said, there is the newly literate populace to consider. I think the illustrations are a wonderful way to help the new readers without being patronizing or demeaning. To be honest, I think more literature should have pictures. Anyway, it is because of this, and because of how Sherlock was included in a magazine as entertainment, I very much doubt that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works were considered to be high literature of any sort. Perhaps, as Watson called it in A Study in Scarlet, “sensational literature”.


I much appreciate your insights. “How to Strip Your Baby” is notorious and controversial – depending on the audience. Literature is becoming more visual: I’m sure you’ve observed the elevation of graphic novels into an art form worthy of serious study, along with other visual media (film, video games) that are enriched when read in a literary way. Indeed, many of these media are literally literal, in that they require reading (and interpretation of) words and narrative. Such developments are reflected in the BBC Sherlock, whose supposed innovation was its representation on the screen of Sherlock’s superhuman thought processes.

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