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Sherlock Holmes and the Last Pre-Raphaelite
Sherlock Holmes and the Last Pre-Raphaelite
Sherlock Holmes and the Last Pre-Raphaelite
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Sherlock Holmes and the Last Pre-Raphaelite

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Giallo - novella (77 pagine) - A quest through the dark meanderings of the glittering metropolis

The Last Pre-Raphaelite begins with an idle wait in the cosy drawing room of 221B, Baker Street: a mysterious client who desperately sought Sherlock Holmes’s help does not show up at the appointed time, seemingly no longer interested in his problem. Nevertheless, London’s most famous consulting detective is not accustomed to leaving a case unsolved and undertakes an investigation all the same. Aided by his faithful friend and passionate chronicler, John H. Watson, Holmes conducts a quest through the dark meanderings of the glittering metropolis and explores the modern reprise of the mythological relationship between love and death, where art in the blood may take on the strangest forms.

Victor Carstairs is the pen name of an Italian author born in Turin and brought up in the neighbourhood of Urbino, a small Renaissance town in Central Italy. He worked and lived in Northen Italy for many a year and every now and then sojourned in London. He holds a degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures specializing in Anglo-American studies, and devotes himself to writing and translation. He has a penchant for Victorian and Edwardian authors, among whom Arthur Conan Doyle stands out as one of his favourites. He is also a keen connoisseur of the Golden Age of detective fiction and loves nineteenth century poetry and painting as well. He has had five Sherlock Holmes pastiches published by Delos Books so far: L’ultimo preraffaellita, Il cane e l’anatra, Il labirinto della solitudine, L’avventura dei candelabri provenzali, Lo studiolo del duca; in 2016, he published an exhaustive academic study on the Holmesian apocryphal writings entitled Oltre il Sacro Canone: variazioni apocrife sul tema di Sherlock Holmes (Aras Edizioni). He is the co-author of the only Italian biography of Lord Alfred Douglas published back in 1999. He has also written and published a brief Sherlock Holmes pastiche for the American John H. Watson Society, The Adventure of the Duke’s Study, which was the first issue of the Fiction Series in 2015. As a translator, his work includes a number of novelettes published by Delos Books, a novel published by Mondadori and several non-fiction works that appeared in various magazines. The Last Pre-Raphaelite is his first Sherlock Holmes pastiche out of five.

Data di uscita28 mar 2017
Sherlock Holmes and the Last Pre-Raphaelite
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    Sherlock Holmes and the Last Pre-Raphaelite - Victor Carstairs



    Being a Reprint of the Unpublished Memoirs of John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army Medical Department


    Augustin de Sainte-Beuve once said that old age is the only method we have devised to live for a long time. As any positivist physician who is quite familiar with the theories of Darwin and Stuart Mill, I must reluctantly acknowledge that to live longer than five decades is a privilege which modern men have laboriously won in spite of nature, since our ancestors’ lifetime could not span more than forty years. Being now eighty-four, and having long crossed the threshold of a late age when the inborn philosophical bent of a man is extremely accentuated, I cannot help thinking about my senile state, whose very few advantages are up against many disadvantages. Certainly, one of these advantages is to have much more time at my disposal to muse on the countless events of existence, either my own or anyone else’s. Surely, I am not claiming I am wiser than I used to be when I was in my early twenties. Age does not make a man wiser, it only makes him more attentive. The reasons are obvious: he is no longer prey to that sublime, youthful excitement which drives a fellow in his twenties to act frantically and prevents him from acting thoughtfully. Nevertheless – as my poor wife would tell me – the biggest part of me has remained the same since 1878, when I was little more than twenty and, having just graduated at the University of London, resolved to specialize in military surgery and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Now I could not say whether my choice was right or wrong. Who could tell, after all? What I can maintain is that I was longing to do something unusual: it did not matter whatever I did provided it was uncommon.

    I joined the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers and travelled with them the whole way to our possessions in India. Bombay looked more sprawling and mysterious than I had imagined it on reading some short stories when I was a child. As we went up the muddy waters of the Ganges, which was almost all the time packed with Hindus bathing as if it possessed the transparency of the purest spring waters of Ben Nevis, I realized how so different a religious belief could produce so absolute a devotion. The Taj Mahal of Agra, in the northern territories of the country, left me breathless. An Indian guide of ours told me that an emperor of the seventeenth century had had it built to honour his wife who had died soon after she had given birth to their fourteenth baby. In truth, it was a gigantic white tomb which should remind the whole world of a husbandly love for his spouse. I wondered, not without regrets, if it had been fair to have subjugated people who were descendants of a civilization which had been so enlightened in the past, to the extent that it could create such a marvel. Of course, I forbore from imparting my doubts to anybody else: it would not have been at all patriotic, and anti-patriotism, although purely theoretical, was unbecoming all the same and an intellectual sin in which to indulge, certainly the most inappropriate conduct to bring solace to our soldiers, wounded in their bodies as well as in their spirits.

    I leave to historians any general remark about the ill-omened battle of Maiwand. As for me, I was injured in my left shoulder by a Jezail bullet. I can recall that very moment in blurry images only: I remember a whirl of dust and the sharp rocks of Afghanistan; when the bullet hit me, I fell unconscious to the ground, and Murray, my faithful and courageous orderly, brought me to safety astride a pack-horse. Good old Murray, who saved my life on that occasion – irony of fate – died four years ago. I felt bound to attend his funeral and threw my silver war medal depicting Queen Victoria into his grave. A train carrying our wounded sufferers transported me from Kandahar to Peshawar, where I was admitted to a military hospital. It took me about eight weeks to recover, but no sooner had my body healed the wound and its unsavoury side effects than I was taken ill with one of those deadly enteric fevers which can kill a man whose antibodies are not drilled to fight against the germs and bacteria of a subtropical climate. Thankfully, death ignored me and I survived. My hour had not yet come. During the months that followed I experienced a dramatic weight loss of twenty-four pounds. Convalescent and emaciated, I was discharged and then I embarked on the Orontes and docked at Portsmouth jetty a month later. I remember that it was a chilly dull morning when I set foot on the English soil again, and Southsea harbour brooded in a bleak indifference; this notwithstanding, it looked like heaven on earth to me. I had come back alive, and now all that I must worry about was how to earn a decent living on an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day, or the amount of my lavish retirement allowance. Had I not been injured I could have seen many other things, and maybe I could have narrated many other adventures; on the other hand, I could have died, and would now no longer have been able to narrate a thing. My story could have been one in a thousand stories of many humble men whom history books give no account of. Furthermore, I would have never encountered that person who gave my life a new meaning in the late winter of 1881.

    It is the privilege of a bored thinker to remark that time goes by stealthily. Changes, even the most glaring, are not clearly visible to us until we observe them once they have occurred. A man who looks daily at his figure reflected in a mirror must have a feeling he hasn’t grown old a single hour, even when thirty years have elapsed; yet, should he happen to find an old photograph or a portrait dating back to the light-hearted days of his youth, I think he would be barely able to recognize himself. The same goes for the bygone days of a country. Only when I read my casebooks again, leafing through the pages of the weird adventures I happened to live in the company of my unforgotten and unforgettable friend Sherlock Holmes, I realize how much England and the world have changed since then. As any elderly man, I am intolerant of any bothersome noise, and must admit that even here, in a suburban borough such as South Norwood, quietness is every now and then disturbed by the roar of the piston engines of passing cars. The horses pawing the ground and the coaches creaking in the streets were much less annoying and far too poetical. Telegrams have become obsolete after the invention of the telephone, and the news, alternating with music, comes to us through a voice speaking on the radio. Almost every house in London is provided with an electric installation and a plumbing system. The incandescent bulbs give off a clear cold glare, so

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