AGORA

Absent, Symbolic and Imagined Communities in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” (1892)

Françoise DUPEYRON-LAFAY

The urban setting of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes accounts for the almost complete absence of communities, and the lost reassuring sense of belonging. But even in the stories set in the countryside, rural communities are not evoked either, which appears as a fertile breeding-ground for criminal acts. The very few non-criminal micro-communities briefly mentioned in the texts primarily serve as clues, as sociocultural, psychological and behavioural markers that the detective reads and deciphers. 

Holmes himself does not belong to any community. Yet, in spite of his individualism and unconventional traits, he paradoxically plays a healing role, as the weaver, or at least mender, of the social “fabric” for the male middle-class readership of TheStrand Magazine. Indeed, he defends and preserves social and moral values, threatened both in the stories and in late Victorian society. Therefore, The Adventures reflect Conan Doyle’s own values, and, through Holmes, they recreate and restore the feeling of belonging to an (imagined) ideological and ethical community.

Keywords: The Strand Magazine, middle class, values, ideology, imagined communities, belonging.

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