chapter  3
Between Intimacy and Distance
The Return of Sherlock Holmes as ‘The Ideal Compromise’ in The Strand Magazine and Collier’s Weekly
WithThomas Vranken
Pages 22

For Arthur Conan Doyle, the discontinuous short-story series was the ‘ideal compromise’ between the binding intimacy of traditional serialisation and the distancing practicality of one-off short story publication. In his third, transatlantic, Holmes series, The Return of Sherlock Holmes – the only Holmes series to officially appear in two magazines simultaneously – the full flexibility of Doyle’s experimental compromise comes to the fore. Both of the magazines in which these stories appeared, Chapter Three argues, subtly stretched Doyle’s stories to conform to those magazines’ opposing predilections and tastes. In The Strand Magazine, surrounded by articles promoting celebrity culture, the Return stories join with those articles in fostering a sense of reader-intimacy. In Collier’s Weekly, surrounded by that journal’s rather more old-fashioned discourse of fame, the Return series too seems emotionally distant and reserved.