Sherlock Holmes and cocaine: a 7% solution for modern professionalism

Small, D. (2015) Sherlock Holmes and cocaine: a 7% solution for modern professionalism. English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, 58(3), pp. 341-360.

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Often the interpretation of Holmes’s cocaine habit is that it demonstrates his “counter-cultural” status and his Bohemian nature, the detective’s blithe cocainism representative of a colonial contamination of his body and corruption of the British homeland. This article offers background on cocaine use in the 1890s and argues instead that cocaine symbolizes Holmes’s dedication to and his ascendancy within the profession of detective and the acute modernity of his professional existence. In Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four Holmes makes use of the modernity and ingenuity implicit in the drug’s reputation to subvert many of the then current narratives of addiction and dependency. Holmes’s cocaine use is uniquely framed not as an addiction, but as a defiance of addiction. Holmes masters the drug as he masters the demands of his work.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Sherlock Holmes, cocaine, Victorian literature, drugs.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Small, Dr Douglas
Authors: Small, D.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920
Journal Abbr.:ELT
Publisher:ELT Press
ISSN (Online):1559-2715

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