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The Best of Sherlock Holmes
The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin holds the original manuscript for the Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia." With this facsimile edition, the entire manuscript of one of the best Holmes tales is now available to all readers.
Bohemian Souls is edited, with an introduction, by noted mystery expert and Edgar-winner Otto Penzler. It includes a facsimile of the "Scandal in Bohemia" manuscript, a transcription with extensive annotation, and related essays. The facsimile images are reduced to 6.75 x 4.5 inches and show the rectos of the manuscript's 30 text pages, the rear paste-down, and the front and rear covers of the binding.
In addition to the manuscript reproduction, the book includes 16 illustrations. Most of these are rarely-seen pictures from the first American newspaper appearances of the story. There are also several early concept drawings for the final dust jacket painting, which is original to this volume.
The book's cloth boards are an attractive University of Texas burnt orange, and in a very nice touch the front cover includes a short passage reproduced from the manuscript in gilt. That passage provides the source of the book's title: "Holmes loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul."
Bohemian Souls is the seventh volume in The Baker Street Irregulars Manuscript Series. [Full disclosure: I was a contributor to this volume, and thus I'll focus on describing the "facsimile" portion rather than providing a critical review or discussing the essays in detail.]
The BSI Manuscript Series has improved over the years. Although page images remain smaller than the original, reproduction quality is excellent. Crucial enhancements include a line-for-line transcription facing the image of each handwritten page, and clearly identified annotations. The combination simplifies reading and reference. In addition, page images include the full original sheet margins, and enlargements appear in later essays to highlight key points.
This volume also reproduces the manuscript's binding. A detailed written description completes the reader's understanding of the physical object. That description points out unusual features of the manuscript, including the fact that seven pages are written in a second, as yet unidentified, hand.
Phillip Bergem produced the notes for the manuscript. These highlight the differences between the text of the manuscript and the story's first appearance in The Strand Magazine and various American newspapers. The notes also include a few points about the narrative, but for complete story annotations you will need to refer to one of Klinger's Annotated volumes or the Oxford Sherlock Holmes.
Finally, this section of the book includes the history behind Conan Doyle writing "A Scandal of Bohemia" (as he originally titled it), publication details, and the provenance of the manuscript as it was bought and sold over the years. The second section of the book contains a number of essays about Irene Adler, a note on chronological issues, and a paper about the theatrical and acting elements in this and other Holmes tales.
Type of material: Hardcover book
Title: Bohemian Souls (manuscript facsimile)
Author (story): Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Author (volume): Edited, with an introduction by Otto Penzler
Author (series): Andrew G. Fusco
Publisher: The Baker Street Irregulars in association with The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin
A limited edition of Bohemian Souls was published in 2013 as part of a two-volume Texas Limited Edition Boxed Set. The Harry Ransom Center also holds the manuscript of "The Golden Pince-nez," and the BSI produced a Manuscript Series facsimile edition of it in 2012.
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