Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Greek Interpreter – a Sherlock Holmes short story

The Greek Interpreter – a Sherlock Holmes short story

Also known as The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter* by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a Sherlock Holmes short story from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes collection. According to The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, it was Holmes 18thcase.

It introduces Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s brother. Modern film and television adaptations of Sherlock Holmes give Mycroft a greater role than he actually plays in Doyle’s stories – wherein Mycroft makes only four appearances.

I was as excited as Dr. Watson when Mycroft’s name came up – Watson had not yet any idea that Sherlock had any close living relations. In a bit of a surprise, Sherlock freely admits that Mycroft possesses even greater powers of observation and deduction than he does himself. When Watson mistakes the assertion as humility, Sherlock retorts:
My dear Watson, I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to under-estimate oneself is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers. When I say, therefore, that Mycroft has better powers of observation than I, you may take it that I am speaking the exact and literal truth.

Mycroft however, being somewhat portly, is not suited for the legwork of sleuthing, so he limits his crime solving activities to an occasional assist to Sherlock.

In this case, when Sherlock takes Watson to visit Mycroft, simply as a curiosity, Mycroft acquaints Sherlock with the case of the Greek Interpreter. The brothers collectively solve the case.

It was fun to meet Mycroft – though to be honest, film renditions portray a more intriguing relationship between Sherlock and Mycroft. Still it was an interesting case. The Holmes brothers, and Watson of course, manage to save one life, though one is lost and the culprits escape, though they word reaches Holmes sometime later that they have succumbed to poetic justice in their flight.

*Many of Doyle’s short stories, that were originally published with titles such as The Greek Interpreter, had the titles changed to THE ADVENTURE OF the Greek Interpreter, when the stories were collected into volumes such as The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.


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