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Klinger talks Holmes, ‘New Sherlockians,’ and more

By August 13, 2013November 8th, 2023No Comments

Les Klinger loves the BBC’s “Sherlock” and CBS’s “Elementary” and believes that some traditional Sherlock Holmes scholars have mistreated the “new Sherlockians,” who have come to appreciate Holmes through modern film and television.

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Read more about the conference and listen to a radio play by the Minnesota-based Red-Throated League in a Pioneer Press story by reporter Richard Chin.
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Visit the Sherlock Holmes Collection at the University of Minnesota Libraries

“I think the reaction to the new Sherlockians is deplorable, but I’m delighted that so many people have found us,” Klinger said, in an exclusive interview with the University of Minnesota Libraries during the “Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Place” conference, Aug. 9-11, 2013, at the University of Minnesota. Klinger gave the keynote presentation to about 150 Sherlockians in attendance at the conference.

“When the Downey films came out, for example, I was really excited to hear from people like Otto Penzler that sales of the canon were actually increasing,” Klinger said. “I think people who watch ‘Sherlock’ to see Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones – that’s wonderful because they’ll get hooked and they’ll find the original stories.”

Klinger – considered a leading authority on Sherlock Holmes and Dracula – is an attorney by day, but he’s more famous as the editor of “The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes,” a three-book edition of all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes fiction with extensive annotations. He also edited the scholarly 10-volume “Sherlock Holmes Reference Library,” a heavily annotated edition of the entire Sherlock Holmes canon, and “The New Annotated Dracula,” an annotated version of Bram Stoker’s novel.

In the interview, Klinger also talked about how he got hooked on Sherlock Holmes, the history of Holmes scholarship, how he became a consultant on the Robert Downey, Jr. Holmes films, and more.

Introduction to Sherlock Holmes

While he was in law school, he said his girlfriend at the time introduced him to Holmes by buying him a copy of “The Annotated Sherlock Holmes,” edited by William Baring-Gold.

“She thought that I would like it, and, wow, was she right.” He added that what attracted him to Baring-Gold was the footnotes, something, he said, that a tax attorney could appreciate.

His expertise leads him to Hollywood

His love of Holmes grew and he became more immersed in the subject, joining the Baker Street Irregulars, and writing, editing, and lecturing on Sherlock Holmes. Considered a leading expert, Klinger was, somewhat by chance, chosen to consult on the Warner Bros. film “Sherlock Holmes,” starring Robert Downey, Jr. (2009) and the follow-up, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (2011).

A friend introduced him to Downey, who met with Klinger and ultimately the producers chose Klinger to be a technical advisor on the first film for no pay. “The second film, they actually hired me,” he said.

As for the modern television shows on BBC and CBS, Klinger had this to say: “I love ‘Elementary’ and ‘Sherlock.’ I think they are terrific, fresh interpretations.  ‘Sherlock’ is loaded with Easter eggs … little nuggets of lines from the canon.”

In town for the Sherlock Holmes conference, Klinger said he’s enjoying seeing old friends.

“Our excuse for being here is that we’ll share some Sherlockian scholarship, but it’s really about the friendships.”

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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