Monday, January 25, 2010

View from the street

The walk from the Grand Theatre, which is home to Poland's national opera and ballet, to The Apartment passes along Senatorska street. The Apartment is among those in the group of buildings visible about a block distant, just beyond the barbican, constructed in 1540 along with its adjoining walls to protect the "Old Town" which was Warsaw. It is a short walk, but made longer by arctic-like temperatures and winds on a late January afternoon.

Sherlock, Warsaw, the opera and THE woman

"Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point."
-- Sherlock Holmes to Dr. John Watson in "A Scandal in Bohemia"

The photograph I posted a few days ago of horse-drawn carriages below The Apartment in Warsaw drew a comment regarding Sherlock Holmes.

The comment was, to be precise: "I had a chance to see more of Fram's photos from his apartment .... how fascinating those horse drawn carriages so close by, it almost feels like one is in Sherlock Holmes' London."

My reply was, to be exact: "By the way, in reference to your remark about Holmes .... one of the central figures in "A Scandal in Bohemia," Irene Adler, before moving to London was the prima donna in the Imperial Opera of Warsaw. The present-day Grand Theatre, with the national opera, is two blocks, maybe three, from The Apartment."

Irene Adler was the only person, man or woman, to see through Holmes' disguises and to completely outwit him. From that story forward, in the words of its author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex."

It amazes and puzzles me how a few back and forth words such as those can set me on my way toward rediscovery of past pleasures in life. I quickly found the short story, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” online at Project Gutenberg and re-read it.

Somewhat satisfied but hardly satiated, I looked for the Granada Television episode of it made in the 1980s and broadcast in America by the Public Television Service. Unbelievable. There it was on YouTube, in pieces, but almost intact, for me to watch.

Forty-one of the sixty Holmes stories written by Conan Doyle were adapted into the Granada series, with Jeremy Brett portraying Holmes. Brett did not merely play Holmes; he became Holmes. To those who watched the series, there can be no other explanation for the depth and manner of Brett's performances.

The series itself was the epitome of Sherlockian lore, culture, habit, addiction, costume and style, and was as true to the times and the characters as, perhaps, any television company is capable of producing from stories born of mortal mind and recorded with the rudimentary tools of pen, ink and paper.

Pause, smile, take a deep breath.

Before I get carried away singing the praises of Conan Doyle's brilliant invention, meaning Sherlock; Brett's brilliant portrayal of the original master detective; and Granada Television's brilliant production of these stories, I will retreat once more into the brilliant world of Neverland.

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