Was Sherlock Holmes murdered by a French Hussar?|
Most aficionados of the Great Detective know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was eager to get rid of his much-beloved characters so that he could go on to write about other things. Doyle undoubtedly hoped that Holmes was gone for good when he tumbled to his "death" over Reichenbach Falls, allegedly locked in combat with his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty.
But what many readers don't know is that Holmes perished so that he could be replaced by a new Doyle character: Brigadier Etienne Gerard, a Hussar in the French army during the Napoleonic Wars.
Brigadier Gerard made his first appearance in The Strand in December 1894, in "How the Brigadier Won His Medal." The stories then continued with the series, "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard." In the series, a retired Gerard, now living in Paris, reminisces to readers about his experiences. It is clear that Gerard is convinced he is the bravest soldier, greatest swordsman, most accomplished horseman and most gallant lover in all of France -- or wherever he happens to be serving at the time.
And his service is indeed widespread. Born in Gascony in the 1780's, Gerard first joins the 2nd Hussars (the Hussars of Chamberan) in 1799, where he serves as a Lieutenant and then as Junior Captain. He transfers to the 3rd Hussars of Conflans in 1807 as Senior Captain, and becomes a Colonel in the 2nd Hussars in 1810. He serves in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, and Russia (and spends a brief period of time in captivity in England). In 1814, he is awarded the Grand-Cross of the Légion d'honneur by Napoleon (primarily for having gallantly failed to complete his mission). Gerard is devoted to his Emperor, and would gladly lay down his life for the Empire.
Through Gerard's unending vanity, Doyle manages to satirize not only the English stereotypes of the French, but also English manners and customs as observed by uncomprehending French eyes. Gerard's adventures span the years from 1807 to 1821 (and do not always appear in chronological order).
The first series of Gerard stories, "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard," ran through December 1895. As an editorial note at the end of the last tale indicates, however, Gerard himself was doomed to be supplanted by yet another Doyle creation, Rodney Stone, a Sussex lad whose adventures involve boxers, mysteries, and a number of noteworthy historic figures during the period of King George III. Doyle then went on to publish several other historic tales in The Strand, including the serial "The Tragedy of the Korosko," before returning to "The Adventures of Brigadier Gerard" in 1900. This series ran from 1900-1903. In 1902, Sherlock Holmes made a dramatic reappearance in The Hound of the Baskervilles, and then returned once and for all with The Return of Sherlock Holmes in 1905.
The Brigadier Gerard stories were subsequently published in two volumes -- Exploits in 1896 and Adventures in 1903. Some of the names of the stories were changed in these anthologies. In 1995, a new anthology, The Complete Brigadier, was published, which included "The Marriage of the Brigadier" (published in 1910) and "A Foreign Office Romance" (published in 1894, though not in The Strand, and considered a precursor to the Brigadier stories, though it does not actually feature Gerard).
This volume includes "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard" (including "How the Brigadier Won His Medal") as the stories originally appeared in The Strand, and the text of "The Adventures of Brigadier Gerard." It also includes "A Foreign Office Romance."
- Part I: The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard
- The Medal of Brigadier Gerard
- How the Brigadier Held the King
- How the King Held the Brigadier
- How the Brigadier Slew the Brothers of Ajaccio
- How the Brigadier Came to the Castle of Gloom
- How the Brigadier Was Tempted by the Devil
- How the Brigadier Played for a Kingdom
- Part II: The Adventures of Brigadier Gerard
- How Brigadier Gerard Lost His Ear
- How the Brigadier Captured Saragossa
- How the Brigadier Slew the Fox
- How the Brigadier Saved the Army
- How the Brigadier Triumphed in England
- How the Brigadier Rode to Minsk
- How the Brigadier Bore Himself at Waterloo
- Part I: The Story of the Forest Inn
- Part II: The Story of the Nine Prussian Horsemen
- The Last Adventure of the Brigadier
- The Marriage of the Brigadier
- A Foreign Office Romance
Read a Sample Chapter.
Available in print and electronic editions from Lulu.com.