I've just finished an entertaining book by Pierre Bayard whom I already mentionned last year
for his brilliant Comment parler des livres qu'on a pas lus
. By the way there's a good article on Pierre Bayard here (it's from the French newspaper, Libération).
Well, entertaining might not be the most accurate word here. It's very clever, recreational and intellectual at once. The tittle is L'affaire du chien des Baskerville
. Bayard's idea is that Sherlock Holmes got it all wrong (he isn't the first to think so, the Holmesians had alreay pointed out many anomalies and Christopher Gelly or François Hoff also wrote articles on a possible miscarriage of justice) . Basically Pierre Bayard leads a counter-investigation (and does find/reveal another guilty party) while writing an essay on literature (he teaches Literature in a Parisian University but he's also a psychoanalyst) .
Bayard has started what he called himself "une critique policière" which is literary critic applied to detective novels. He has already done it with Agatha Christie (Qui a tué Roger Ackroyd ?)
and Shakespeare's Hamlet
(he proved Claudius innocent of the murder of Hamlet's father)
I must say that I am not completely convinced by his solution here, and the final truth he gives us when he unmasks the murderer left me sceptical. However it's quite playful and all the work he does- about Holmes' method and his obvious mistakes, about the hound's innocence(the chapter "Plaidoyer pour le chien" is hilarious), about Stapleton's doubtful guilt and finally about Conan Doyle's ambivalence when it comes to his famous detective- before pointing out the true killer, well that work of his is SO smart and just fun.
It's an exercice in style of exegesis and critic brilliantly accomplished by an Academic who fights with the text so it could be boring and could seem pointless but Bayard's tongue-in-cheek humour is simply priceless.
It's even more priceless if you have enjoyed Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next
series, if you have seen the BBC's programme Reichenbach Falls
based on an idea by Ian Rankin and if you think of that recent poll done in the UK wherein it turned out that 25% of British teenagers thought that Winston Churchill was a fictional character but more than 50% believed that Sherlock Holmes did exist and used to live in Baker Street!
See, everything is connected in my world, again...Now you may follow me under the cut into the rabbit's hole.
At the end of the day Pierre Bayard shows us that when you really want to find something in a book you can and the connections you draw will work because there's a sweet insanity and a real freedom in the process of reading, and a reader is just as part of a book as its writer and its characters.
It's something that we, Buffy fans, already knew, didn't we?