12 Jul

“Montaigne and Howells’ Letters are my bedside books. If I wake at night, I have one or other of them to prattle me to sleep again. They talk about themselves for ever, and don’t weary me. I like to hear them tell their old stories over and over again. I read them in the dozy hours, and only half remember them.”

The above excerpt is from William Makepeace Thackeray’s (1811-1863) essay On Two Children in Black, and describes perfectly any one of my sleepless night scenarios.

Instead of Montaigne and Howells’ Letters however, on my bedside table, along with other books I am currently reading, is a two volume annotated Canon of Sherlock Holmes that is there for only one purpose, ‘….. to prattle me to sleep again’……  ‘in  the dozy hours’.

Some would find this quite odd, as the Annotated Sherlock Holmes is a monumental undertaking at nearly 1400 pages. Set in chronological order by its editor and Sherlock Holmes scholar William S. Baring-Gould, these volumes literally contain hundreds of footnotes and commentary about all the nuances that can be found throughout the many writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s adventures with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Not to mention the copious amounts of *margin notes, and Sidney Paget‘s original illustrations from The Strand.

I find this to be the near perfect book: you don’t ever have to finish it; you can come back to it year after year, and still be thrilled; and, you have the author’s thoughts, definitions and clearly delineated Lexicon. All, explaining clues, places and personas every step of the way, on every page! Brilliant.

Of course if you’re not a Holmes/Watson fan, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Never mind. Only Sherlockians will appreciate this post anyway. **Booyah.


*Connecting words and ideas in the text to the reader’s own personal experiences and knowledge by writing notes in the margin of a text. Knowtation 

**an exclamatory statement, often said when someone is extremely overjoyed. Often people do a hand movement simultaneously as they say ‘Booyah’ (clinching fist and thrusting elbow downward vertically)

[Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre]

[Howells’ Letters: the correspondence of John Milton Hay (1838-1905) an American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln, and William Dean Howells (1837-1920) an American realist, author and literary critic. The Dean of American Letters]



  1. Ilbi July 12, 2012 at 8:59 p07 #

    Thankyou. Now I finally know what booyah means…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOL

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