The Grand Game

I am writing a comparison between two writers of detective stories.  While researching, I came across Monsignor Ronald Knox's satire/bad joke/ semi-serious comparison of the Bible with Sherlock Holmes.  It seems that the clever monsignor started a phenomenon  that is continued to this day.

It all begin when Ronald Knox had to prepare a talk for two different groups.  They were completely different groups.  Think theological versus a general subject for college students.  Let me preface the story by explaining that Ronald Knox was a stickler for orthodoxy and it bothered him, more than a bit, that nit-pickers were arguing over whether authors of certain books of the Bible were the one person the book was attributed to, or his disciples.  Knox, ingeniously, pointed out in his paper, Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes, inconsistencies in the detective stories. He offered the Sherlock Holmes stories as a Bible.  He proposed a theory that Sherlock Holmes was not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but by Watson.  (Yes, the very same Dr. Watson, in the stories.)  He contrasted and compared the disputed authorship of the books in the Bible to a disputed authorship of Sherlock Holmes stories.  And he did this with a straight face.

Much to Knox's surprise, the theologians swallowed the fish tale, hook-line-sinker.  It was meant to be a spoof.  And it took awhile for Knox's trick to catch on.  Well, it wasn't really meant to trick anybody; it was obvious to Knox that he was presenting a tongue in cheek comparison.

Even more surprising, is that Knox's spoof was copied by others.  Some others expanded on the biography of Holmes, giving him a birthdate and schools he graduated from, and more.  Dr. Watson is humanized, also.  It became a game that is carried on to this day.

 I think it sounds like fun.

*My source:


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