Holmes & his commentators

Theodore Dalrymple in The New Criterion:

Cw20sherlock20holmes20rwbAccording to Hazlitt, if we wish to know the force of human genius, we have only to read Shakespeare, but if we wish to know the futility of human learning, we have only to read his commentators.

Something similar might almost be said —almost, but not quite—of Sherlock Holmes and his commentators. The gulf is not nearly as great as that between Shakespeare and his critics, of course, but if literary genius is required in order to create a mythological world that is more real and alluring to readers than any reality itself, that once read is never forgotten, that for a century has inspired the devotion of the literary and the unliterary unlike, and that is vastly and innocently entertaining without being wholly devoid of instruction, then Conan Doyle had such genius to a very considerable degree.

More here.