Sherlock Holmes comes back in Braille again, this time hunting for the hound of the Baskerville. We are proud to announce the release in Braille this wonderful detective novel, “The Hound of the Baskerville”, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930). This is perhaps the most famous of the Sherlock Holmes novels. Though the role of the great Sherlock Holmes has ranked it as a detective novel, a literary genre not often counted among the classics of a language, it has the features of a classical novel. Consider the dual plot. The main plot involving Sir Henry Baskerville being haunted by the legendary hound grasps our attention. We anxiously wait for revelation of the truth about the hell-hound. Side by side, there is a secondary plot involving Selden, the convict who hides in the moor. Though Selden has nothing to do with Sir Henry, he gets his supplies from the Baskerville hall. Sadly enough, Sir Henry’s clothes cause his death. “Then the clothes have been the poor fellow’s death,” aptly observes Holmes. This death also connects the otherwise parallel plots.
Detectives and their assistants are normally stereotypes. But in this novel both Holmes and Dr. Watson seem more human. Holmes does not conceal anxiety for his friend when he sends him to Dartmoor, “I shall be very glad to have you back safe and sound in Baker Street once more.” Watson is anxious for his friend’s attention and appreciation when he is writing his elaborate reports for him. When these two buddies meet again, Watson’s sentiment drives home this point: “Then you use me, and yet do not trust me! … I think that I have deserved better at your hands, Holmes.”
Barrymore has a bold disposition. He wants to leave the Baskerville Hall because of his strong attachment to his deceased master Sir Charles Baskerville. But he gives in to Sir Henry’s admonition considering the old family tie. This far is quite traditional for a servant. We are moved when he refuses to reveal the identity of his brother-in-la for the sake of his wife. He is ready to leave his service for his wife’s integrity.
Females characters of the novel, Mrs. Stapleton and Mrs. Barrymore are both typically Victorian. They have a strong temperament. They are soft-hearted too when someone weak and vulnerable appeals to them. Although Selden “San lower and lower” from crime to crime, to his elder sister Mrs. Barrymore, “he was always the little curly-headed boy.”
Mrs. Stapleton refused to be “direct accessory to murder”. She continuously tried to warn Sir Henry without implicating her husband. She finally gave in when she learned of her rival in love. Mr. Stapleton, having a characteristic promptness and audacity, misjudged his wife’s character.
We can perhaps never forget the villain Stapleton. He is an entomologist with a genuine passion for butterflies. He is a sound planner, a worthy rival for Sherlock Holmes, having the audacity to use his name for a joke and a challenge. Exploiting the family legend of a hound is an intelligent plan. Rendering it into a fiery hell-hound with phosphorus is a stroke of genius. At the same time he is jealous, protective and almost upsets his own ploy when Sir Henry shows interest in his wife.
Notice the prose style adopted by Conan Doyle in the novel. There is a vivid description of the moor both in the daylight and at night hardly visible under a half-moon. Here is an extract from Chapter fourteen where Holmes and his two associates are playing “a waiting game”:
The night was clear and fine above us. The stars shone cold and bright, while a half-moon bathed the whole scene in a soft, uncertain light. Before us lay the dark bulk of the house, its serrated roof and bristling chimneys hard outlined against the silver-spangled sky. Broad bars of golden light from the lower windows stretched across the orchard and the moor. One of them was suddenly shut off. The servants had left the kitchen. There only remained the lamp in the dining-room where the two men, the murderous host and the unconscious guest, still chatted over their cigars.
Every minute that white woolly plain which covered one-half of the moor was drifting closer and closer to the house. Already the first thin wisps of it were curling across the golden square of the lighted window. The farther wall of the orchard was already invisible, and the trees were standing out of a swirl of white vapour. As we watched it the fog-wreaths came crawling round both corners of the house and rolled slowly into one dense bank, on which the upper floor and the roof floated like a strange ship upon a shadowy sea. Holmes struck his hand passionately upon the rock in front of us, and stamped his feet in his impatience.
You cannot miss the suspense in this brilliant description of the fog drifting across the moor when you are waiting for the hound to come out on the scene. At the same time you would enjoy the description of the moor. Read this novel, in any form, you get and note down the characteristics you find.
“The Hound of the Baskerville” is complete in three Braille volumes. It will cost INR 263 for institutions at paper cost. Any individual may collect it for INR 30. Keep checking book list for latest updates and other relevant details.