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November 1964

The Old Original: Notes on Dr. Joseph Bell Whose Personality and Peculiar Abilities Suggested the Creation of Sherlock Holmes

Author Affiliations

Calgary Associate Clinic Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(5):696-701. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860110166021

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"Out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer" (Judges V, 14)

Gleanings From the Commonplace Book of a Medical Reader

It is good for a man to realize that there are still signs of an abiding sanity in this troubled world of ours. Some of these are to be seen in the saving grace of humor, in the love of real nonsense, and (paradoxically enough) in the creation of legends. In this last category our grandfathers had Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed. We moderns have Sherlock Holmes, the greatest legendary figure of our time. Of course, unlike his predecessors, Holmes did not originate from folklore, but, like Mr. Pickwick, stepped into the world from the pages of fiction. But his stature has now surpassed Pickwick's, and in the popular mind he is now a fabulous figure living in the golden world of Robin Hood and Robinson Crusoe.

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