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The Best of Sherlock Holmes
By Randall Stock, July 1, 2004
Manuscripts allow people to get an inside look at how an author created a work. Since manuscripts are often difficult to view in person, facsimiles make these rare items accessible to the general reader. Insightful editing and careful production choices can turn a simple facsimile into a detailed study of the work. Having spent a lot of time studying facsimiles as I compiled my checklist of Holmes manuscript facsimiles, I can confidently say that "The Horror of the Heights" facsimile is outstanding.
To start with, it places the facsimile and its associated transcription on facing pages. Thus at an opening you can both read the transcript and refer to the image as needed. The transcript clearly notes changes in the manuscript and is supplemented with excellent annotations.
These annotations cover both textual variants and explanatory points. They directly compare the manuscript to appearances in the Strand, Everybody's Magazine, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Since book versions were based on the Strand text, you get a comprehensive sense of the editing and errors that come with publication. The explanatory points are especially valuable because they highlight new scientific knowledge and events that came after Conan Doyle wrote the story.
I also found the book's detailed description of the manuscript to be very helpful. With other facsimiles I always seem to have questions about what is, and what isn't, reproduced. However, this book not only reproduces a number of "extra" elements besides the text body, it also explicitly notes all the physical details, down to the watermarks on the paper!
The book's fine design, with 8.5 x 11 inch pages, provides for large, quality reproductions. It also presents the annotations in sidebars, which are far more convenient than endnotes. Finally, it also reproduces the illustrations from the story's serial appearances, including several large ones in full color.
Contents for the book are as follows:
The two prefaces, introduction, essay, and closing note all add context to the manuscript and to the story. This book's combination of design and content is very impressive. While some facsimiles are rather dry and limited, this one should appeal to both the dedicated researcher and the casual scholar. It is highly recommended!
Type of material: Hardcover book
Title: The Horror of the Heights (manuscript facsimile)
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by John Bergquist and Phillip Bergem
Publisher: Calabash Press
This special edition was produced in a limited quantity for 'A River Runs By It', the June 2004 Conan Doyle Conference in Minneapolis, but some copies are still available from Calabash Press.
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