New is nice. We like new. We like seeing new places, hearing new songs, buying new things, reading new books. When I was a kid, most of my clothes were hand-me-downs–some of them very old hand-me-downs–so when I was out on my own and finally had the income, I really got excited about shopping. Even grocery shopping was fun, but recreational shopping was even better.
After awhile, though, the newness of “New” wore off. It was no longer fun to buy things, to pay for them, to put them away, to maintain them. How many outfits did one toddler need? Didn’t I have enough china? Didn’t they have enough toys? Where in the heck are we going to put that? Do I, realistically, have enough years left to read all of those books?It is very possible to have entirely too much “New.” When that happens, even “New” becomes “Old.” (Yeah, I know, that’s not what the song says). At that point, I think many of us decide to take stock of what we have, and to appreciate it more.
In the past few years, we have enjoyed an embarrassment of riches when it comes to new versions of Sherlock Holmes, either on film or in pastiche. I might be particularly fond of one of them.
But after five years of new, hearing about yet another “new Holmes” becomes less exciting than it might have been. And you know what start to look better and better? Old Holmes. Not just Canon Holmes, because he is a constant in our lives, but older film versions. Older pastiches. You can go back to them and see the richness and nuance that you might have missed the first time around.
Sherlock Holmes himself recognized that, in the end, nothing is really new. Nor is it old. Clothes have the same function, art handles the same emotions, and criminals have the same motives as they have had for thousands of years. So it was appropriate that when Holmes expressed that thought to Gregson, he quoted from a very old source.
‘It reminds me of the circumstances attendant on the death of Van Jansen, in Utrecht, in the year ’34. Do you remember the case, Gregson?’
‘Read it up–you really should. There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before.’
What is Holmes quoting, and in which story does he do it? If your answer is drawn, you’ll receive your own chance to experience something old anew, via Basil Rathbone’s autobiography, In and Out of Character, and a collection of Rathbone/Bruce films on DVD or blu-ray, for Region 1 or 2 (no photo of that, as it will vary by region).
Remember, submit your answers via blog comment, Facebook PM, or Twitter DM! And I was just kidding about new books. Seriously. Kidding.