Sherlock Holmes in Russia

Overview

Thanks to the Sherlockian historian George Piliev and translator Alex Auswaks, this remarkable collection of seven Russian Sherlock Holmes stories is now available in English for the first time. Piliev tells the fascinating story of how these tales came to be written, in the context of the Sherlockian phenomenon in Russia. He explains how Holmes reached an even greater audience when Russian writers decided to transport him and Watson from Baker Street to Russia, on the premise that they traveled widely in the ...

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Overview

Thanks to the Sherlockian historian George Piliev and translator Alex Auswaks, this remarkable collection of seven Russian Sherlock Holmes stories is now available in English for the first time. Piliev tells the fascinating story of how these tales came to be written, in the context of the Sherlockian phenomenon in Russia. He explains how Holmes reached an even greater audience when Russian writers decided to transport him and Watson from Baker Street to Russia, on the premise that they traveled widely in the country and became fluent in the language. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson traveled the length of Russia solving the most difficult and unimaginable cases and pursued all the while by an implacable Russian Moriarty. Instead of mainly dealing with murders, these stories are more diverse, covering kidnapping, a strange problem in a shop, theft, and corruption.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Completists rather than casual Sherlockians are more likely to enjoy this intriguing compilation of seven early 20th-century Russian pastiches, two by P. Orlovetz and five by P. Nikitin. An introduction by mystery historian George Piliev traces the history of Holmes's popularity in Russia, though he admits that virtually nothing is known about Orlovetz and Nikitin, who do a less convincing job transferring Holmes to a different country than, say, the authors represented in Michael Kurland's anthology, Sherlock Holmes: The American Years (Nov. 9). One of Nikitin's stories, “The Strangler,” is clearly derivative of Poe's first Dupin story, and another, “The Commercial Centre Mystery,” bears strong similarities to Doyle's “The Red-Headed League.” Explanatory afterwords would have been welcome in two tales that end with Holmes missing or presumed dead. (Jan.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780709080077
  • Publisher: Hale, Robert Limited
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,023,910
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Auswaks' novel A Trick of Diamonds was short-listed for a British Crime Writers Association Award.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 2, 2011

    Russian versions of Holmes and Watson

    The Introduction, by George Piliev, explains the spurt in popularity of Sherlock Holmes tales in Russia in the first quarter of the 20th Century. Poor communications, translation problems and difficult legal barriers slowed publication of Doyle's works in Russia to the point that it failed to satisfy the clamoring the 'Reading Public' which even included the Imperial family. The slow translation of Doyle's works, in conjunction with the exploding popularity of Holmes led to maniacal inclusion of Holmes in advertisements, plays, children's tales and all elements of cultural life. The 'Superstar' phenomenon came early to Russia. In place of translations of Doyle's tales, a number of home-grown authors met the spiraling demand for Sherlockian stories, creating a Literary 'bloom' of indigenous Sherlockian tales. Similar 'blooms' have occurred in Danish, German, Chinese and East Indian literature at various times in the last Century. This book contains a selection of seven tales from this Russian Literary 'Bloom' by two different authors. The selection in this volume was made carefully by the editor/translator, with an eye toward showing off the best of the lot and displaying the characteristics most common to the Literature as a whole. The first two stories are by P. Orlovetz (details unknown) and give the commonly used rationalization for the presence of Holmes and Watson in Russia, an extended vacation. These tales are barely readable, especially to anyone familiar with the Canon. The plots are minor and lacking in any real logic and the characterizations are unrecognizable. The only strengths in these tale are in their presentation of conditions in Czarist Russia. The final five tales, credited to P. Nikitin (again, details unknown), are a definite step up in quality. There are marked improvements in plotting and some of the characters are well-drawn and interesting. Further, the events include happenings that were typical of the times and settings. Each is a reasonably entertaining mystery, set in a lively and exotic land with interesting persons and events. The real problem is that none of those persons are Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Watson. Their names are used but nothing much else is familiar. In a couple of the later tales, the hero makes a few sensible inferences from clues and local knowledge, but the instance of Holmes on 'observation' is not present. The detective acts much as one would expect a Pinkerton agent to function; systematic, careful, sensible, but there are no flashes of insight and no deductions worth observing. Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones; March, 2010. Published in "The Illustrious Clients News," [V33, #3, 04/2010].

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