“My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”
-Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four (Doyle “Chapter 1”)
In Sherlock Holmes, still known as one of the greatest literary figures of all time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle combined some of the greatest interests of the nineteenth century: urban life, emerging scientific theory, and crime. His stories transcended class barriers because they were respectable, intelligently written, and easy to follow, but they were also thrilling and exciting in their own right. The universal appeal Sherlock Holmes held (and still holds) with the reading public is not only due to Doyle’s accessible writing style or interesting plots, but also has to do with the way Doyle manipulated nineteenth-century culture to adopt the widest reading public possible while still producing quality work. Sherlock Holmes’s place as an object of fascination in the twenty-first century stands testament to Doyle’s own abilities and to the universal importance of mass media in modern Western life.