The Hound of the Baskervilles is a popular novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1902. Other books in the popular Sherlock Homes series include the lesser-known ‘A study in scarlet’ and ‘The sign of four’. However The Hound of the Baskervilles is Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous and popular novel selling well over 10 million copies. This success however carries an air of irony because Arthur Conan Doyle tried to make Sherlock homes, in this book, seem a less popular man so that he could relive the immense pressure he was getting from his fans who were pressing him to keep writing new books.
The reason for this popularity even over 100 years after it was written is down to various reasons which I will go on to explain. The Hound of The Baskervilles is a crime and mystery novel which has always been a popular genre. To succeed in writing a book with this genre requires suspense, complexity and unpredictability and I feel that Arthur Conan Doyle has achieved all of these requirements. The novel is packed full of suspense as it was originally serialised in instalments in ‘The Strand Magazine’.
These episodic portions were published in the magazine each week and to make the reader part with the cash that would buy him next weeks copy, suspense was used, as each week the novel ended on a ‘cliff-hanger’ An example of this suspense is when Dr James Mortimer is explaining what he observed in the aftermath of Sir Charles Baskervilles death. He says to Sherlock Homes in a faint voice that he found “the footprints of a gigantic hound! ” The fact that this is at the end of a chapter only magnifies this nervous suspense and makes the reader read on to the next chapter.
This kind of suspense is enjoyed today and 100 years ago because of its unpredictability. The sheer reputation of the Hound of the Baskervilles and its author Arthur Conan Doyle has made a lot of people interested in the novel. However the novel is aimed at an older generation of people and is somewhat of a confusing and sometimes boring book to the younger generation. This problem has been overcome by the release of the 1959 film that gets a younger generation interested in the book thus selling more copies and making the novel more successful.
These younger people would not have read the book 100 years ago as the film was not yet released so in some ways you could argue that the book has become more popular over the last 100 years. This particular Sherlock Homes book is uniquely written as it has Dr Watson as the main character and this gives the book a fast dynamic as Dr Watson uses more actions that words. An example of the fast dynamics in the book is when Sherlock Homes and Dr Watson are chasing the hound and Homes says ” The hound! ” “Come, Watson, come! Great heavens, if we are too late!