Writer: Arthur Conan Doyle
Publisher/Edition: The British Library/Hardcover (2011)
Bought at: The Book Depository 25hrs sale (USD 5,34)
The words “His unpublished first novel” caught me fast, and I impulsively (like I always did everytime there’s this 25 hrs sale in Book Depository) bought it. This book is perfect to put into your collection, if you are a hardcore fan of Sir Conan Doyle. It has so many historical points, from the fact that this book was written before any of Conan Doyle’s other novels, and also the fact this book had never been published before- due to some lost and incomplete manuscripts. Oh, and not to mention that lots of the narratives here would be used by Conan Doyle in his more famous novels later, including several Sherlock Holmes ones.
The story itself is pretty simple.
A 50-year-old man named John Smith was confined to his room due to an attack of gout. And because he’s an outdoor kind of guy, being confined became really hard for him. Smith then tried to occupy himself, by writing his thoughts about many things- from religions, creation theory, his views of medical issues, world peace and even literature and science. Sometimes, he also had conversation with several people- his doctor, his landlady, and his neighbors.
It’s funny to think that before the brilliant Sherlock Holmes stories, Conan Doyle was a young guy (he’s 23 years old when writing this story) with a very raw and complicated mind. He seemed to want to express his many opinions throughout this book but sometimes it turned out to be lots of chaos.
Some of his thoughts, though, were quite controversial for his time, especially regarding his agnostic/atheist view, his disappointment with Christianity and other organized religions, and the simplicity of human minds to believe something we called God.
For me, this book contained lots of rubbish. Conan Doyle seemed like a snobbish young guy who happened to know-it-all, wanted to impress his readers with so many new ideas. I don’t like the way he expressed his opinions here, and frankly speaking I don’t agree with some of his ideas. I don’t like the way he – through John Smith- judged people who chose to trust God, and I don’t share his opinions about science as the core of human existence.
For me, this is a proof of Conan Doyle’s younger days: immature, reckless and unorganized. I’m glad he finally wrote many incredible classics (although Sherlock Holmes’s mind, if you think about it, did resemble Conan Doyle a bit), and became more mature at his older age.
Like I said before, this book is a precious thing for you Conan Doyle’s biggest fans, but if you expected something genius, incredible, something like Sherlock, hmmm you better skip this one.