Talk:A Study in Emerald

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Removed Triva section[edit]

I removed the trivia section and included the info about the advertisements in the opening paragraph. --Junius49 (talk) 15:38, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

'A different, complementary interpretation'[edit]

It's an interesting theory, but unfortunately, it's not supported by the story, whereas the original interpretation is. To support this interpretation:

  • The 'detective' character has written a paper on 'The Dynamics of an Asteroid', which "Rache" comments on. In the original canon, Moriarty is the author of this paper.
  • The narrator signs his name at the end of his story. Whereas the name is obscured, he possesses the initials 'SM' - Sebastian Moran.
  • The narrator frequently discusses what a crack-shot he is. In the original canon, Moran is described as being an expert marksman.

It seems more likely to me that Gaiman is using the two pairings to show how similar they are, just on different sides of the law; Holmes and Moriarty were always constructed as equals-but-opposites, both brilliant men who worked on opposite sides of the law with companions from the military, and the Holmes trappings are just to show how this is inverted in the alternative world. Furthermore, given that Holmes and Watson are opposing a regime dominated by Lovecraft's Great Old Ones, whereas the detective and the veteran are on their side, it could be argued that this IS a 'complementary' presentation of the two. In any case, this smacks a bit of P.O.V, so I've deleted it and provided some examples of why the first interpretation probably is the case.--Joseph Q Publique 07:31, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

About stories and their interpretation[edit]

The thing about stories is that they can have different interpretations. As long as they are well founded, they can co-exist. There need not be only one version. The readers can read and judge for themselves.

My interpretation is indeed well founded; I have a similar backround to yours (google me), and like yourself am perfectly capable of making this call. However, you did not even try to refute my arguments. You simply re-iterated yours (which I think is fruitless, because I contend the two approaches are complementary). If you have reservations about the alternative interpretation, please express them. But do so within the article. Deleting the valid opinion of another is not the way to go, IMHO. Especially in the wiki domain. (You further didn't even leave a trace of my interpretation in this 'discussion' page.)

So, please allow me to suggest you re-insert my alternative view, as a different section. In your interpretation's section, you can make all the reservations you feel are adequate. I'm suggesting this because (1) you yourself acknowledge my interpretation is interesting, and (2) I believe my view is strongly supported by the story, as I articulated in my original post. If you re-read it, you'd see I did not just invent this: there is clear evidence supporting my version. My interpretation is in fact a "superset" of yours. I, for one, think both versions are correct and really go very nicely together. In any case, please let the readers decide. Please don't do it for them.

Let us resolve this in the spirit of the Wikipedia:Be_bold_in_updating_pages guidlines :)

--Dan.tsafrir 05:25, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

I sincerely apologise if my actions seemed high-handed, and would like to assure you that there was nothing personal intended with them. However, the body of the article is not really the place for us to be arguing different literary interpretations in any case; this 'discussion' page is probably the better place for us to discuss the matter, rather than having what amounts to a literary interpretative slanging matching inside the body of the article. As for 'leaving no trace [of your original text], even on this discussion page', if it makes you feel better, this is not technically true, because (and I say this assuming, from having briefly checked your user page, that you are relatively new to Wikipedia - please feel free to correct me if this is not the case):
  • The discussion page is only activated when material is posted on it, and my earlier text was the first information posted on this page; it does not automatically contain text on it. The discussion page is probably the best place to discuss material that could be / should be included in the article, rather than engaging in these sort of literary discussions within the article. As such, there was no trace of your material on this page because prior to my original posting there was no material on it full stop;
  • Your material, technically, is not gone; if you click the 'history' link at the top of the page, previous versions of the page (including pages with your material written on there) which can be reloaded and even reverted (although in the issue of a need to revert text, it's best to come on the discussion page and start a dialogue about it, as in this case).
To add to what I said earlier (and my providing the supporting examples in my edit was an attempt at refuting your discussion by showing exactly where this interpretation had come from), this is why I removed your previous text:
As I understand it, the interpretation you added (and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, as I'd hate to have misinterpreted you and thus caused all of this trouble for nothing :-)) is that the 'detective' and the 'veteran' characters and the 'killer' and 'limping doctor' characters are different aspects of the exact same characters - namely, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson themselves, incarnated into two different versions (the 'crimefighters' and the 'killers'), shown through the different injuries that the accomplice had received. The examples that I present, however, clearly (I hope, anyway) show that the characters are in fact clearly established by Gaiman as being completely different people, who just happen to live in an alternative universe to the one they normally inhabit - the 'detective' and the 'veteran' are clearly (if subtlely) intended to be Professor Moriarty and Colonel Moran (through the examples I cite above and in the article) and 'Rache' and 'The Limping Doctor' are clearly (although again, subtlely) shown to be Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson ('Rache' goes by the name 'Sigerson', a pseudonym used by Holmes in the original stories, and is a pipe smoker who matches Holmes' physical description; 'the Limping Doctor' is even identified as being Watson at one point, and is pretty much the only 'main' character who receives a 'definitive' identification). If you remember, at one point 'Rache' and the 'detective' meet; 'Rache' smokes a pipe, the detective doesn't but attempts to bluff his way through, and this is partly what sets 'Rache' off as to realizing that the detective is not who he says he is. If my interpretation of your interpretation is correct (and again, please inform me if I am mistaken), then it seems to me to be slightly erroneous, as the author clearly establishes these characters as being four completely different characters rather than being the same two characters done twice, as you seem to be arguing (although regarding the point you raise about the different injuries, I wouldn't be surprised if Gaiman was making a comment on this descrepancy - however, it strikes me more as an injoke than showing that both men were actually Watson). Nevertheless, if I am wrong, please let me know.
The points you raise about the characters nevertheless being different sides of the same coin, however, I have no problem with, as it is clear that you are correct here and this is what Gaiman is intending to do, and this certainly is complementary with the original interpretation - however, I'd imagine that this would be because Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty have always been constructed as being equals-but-opposites, and that Gaiman is using the familiar tropes of the world of Sherlock Holmes (the brilliant detective who lives at Baker Street) but instead attributing them to Professor Moriarty in order to demonstrate how much things are different in the alternative world he is constructing, and that in this world it is in fact Moriarty who is on the side of law and order and Holmes who is on the side of anarchy.
I apologise once more for any high-handedness that my actions and hope that this goes some way towards explaining what I'm doing here. I assure you, I have nothing against people providing alternative viewpoints and perspectives to what I have written (indeed, it's nice that someone else has actually taken an interest in an article that I've started for once :-)). I await your reply with great interest. :-) --Joseph Q Publique 10:06, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Let me start off with a citation from the end of one of Neil Gaiman's sandman stories, to hopefully get you in the right mindset:

"There is another version of the tale. That is the tale the women tell each other, in their private language that the men-children are not taught and that the old men are too wise to learn. And in that version of the tale perhaps things happened differently. But then, that is a women's tale, and is never told to men"...

1. About the technical explanations of how things work in the wiki world

Even though it appears you started contributing to wiki only a few months ago, I suspect you are reading wiki pages for years and so have had a fairly good idea about how things work when you finally decided you have the time and energy to contribute... You can safely assume that the same applies to me :) Specifically, I know about pages' history, revert, revert wars, article vs. discussion, etc.

2. About leaving no trace of my interpretation other than in the history of the article

Knowing the above, I think (and this is just my opinion) that the preferable way for you to have operated was not to delete my contribution, but rather, to discuss why you oppose it first, in the discussion page. However, once you've decided to delete it, I am sure you should have moved it to the discussion page in its entirety, so that people (other than you and me) would have a chance to understand what's the view you oppose: take a look at the top of this page (the very first paragraph), do you think anybody understands what you're talking about? I think/hope you'd agree that "they can search it in the history" is not a good answer...

3. About "the body of the article is not really the place for us to be arguing different literary interpretations"

I fully agree. There should be no argument in the body of an article. But there should be an honest representation of the different legitimate views if such exist (in the "some say X, other say Y" spirit). I believe it was presented this way before your edit.

4. About "As I understand it, the interpretation you added s that the 'detective' and the 'veteran' characters and the 'killer' and 'limping doctor' characters are different aspects of the exact same characters - namely, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson themselves, incarnated into two different versions"

Forgive me if I wasn't clear: I too think that the crime fighters are analogous to Professor Moriarty and Colonel Moran. We have no dispute over this point. Really. But there is also evidence in the story that the crime fighters are analogous to Holmes and Watson (the wound thing, Baker street, the fact that they _are_ crime fighters, etc.). Now, you could argue (and indeed you did) that these may be explained in various ways that support or do not negate your interpretation. But on the other hand, you can also validly argue they are supportive of my interpretation (as will be addressed next), and the nice thing about it is that there is no need to decide: there need not be only one unified "truth".

And to the point. Your take of our debate, to the best of my understanding, is that there are exactly two contradictory interpretations on the table:

0. Moriarty = detective <> Holmes = Rache; Moran = veteran <> Watson = limping doctor, XOR
1. detective = Holmes = Rache; veteran = Watson = liming doctor

The first is yours, and you attribute the second to me, and you argue there should be a clear verdict: either 0 or 1, black or white. A binary, discrete, decision. But I think that Neil Gaiman has morphed the two interpretations above to something different, within the gray (and much more interesting) contiguous area between 0 and 1. (The "childish" morph is that the four original characters of Arthur Conan Doyle weren't mapped one-to-one onto Gaiman's four characters: the mapping isn't straightforward, and the personalities are mixed.) The (more "adult") morph was obtained by Gaiman, as writers often do, by simply arranging things such that both interpretations have supportive evidence. As I said, I am not denying "your" evidence. On the contrary. I completely agree. I'm simply saying there is evidence that suggests otherwise, and so the two interpretations are simply there. You claim there isn't such evidence, but the way you "prove" your claim is (a) by restating the evidence of version-0 (I hope you now understand why I think this is completely irrelevant), and (b) by suggesting alternative explanations to the evidence I put on the table. However, your latter explanations are a matter of opinion, as discussed next.

Let us, for example, reconsider the fact ("my" fact) that the wounds of both the 'veteran' and the 'limping doctor' coincide with that of the real Watson. On that you say: "it strikes me more as an injoke than showing that both men were actually Watson".

The first keyword here is "strike". So it "strikes" you in this way, but it's strikes me in another way, and who's the say your strike is better? :) To begin with, I think it is far too significant and emphasised in the story to be just an injoke. But importantly, the same "injoke" argument may be applied to most of the evidence you put on the table, e.g. "'Rache' goes by the name 'Sigerson', a pseudonym used by Holmes": one can easily claim that "this strikes one more as an injoke then showing 'Rache' is Holmes". I'm not making this claim, but the logic we use to justify ourselves is the same, except for some reason, in your view, your observations are "evidence" whereas mine are "injokes" to be brushed aside.

The second objectionable component in your above statement is that if something strikes you more as being X than as Y, then (a) there should be a clear resolution, and (b) you yourself should resolve the matter. Both are untrue. In stories, there need not be a clear resolution, and regardless, I'm afraid it is inappropriate for you to play the judge.

If you read my original post you'd see there are several facts that support version-1 (or rather, the co-existence of version-0 and version-1):

  • The wounds of the 'limping doctor' and the 'veteran' that coincide with Watson's wounds,
  • The fact the friend 'detective' is a detective, similarly to Holmes,
  • The fact he resides in Baker street,
  • The fact he and the 'veteran' are portrayed as "good"
  • The fact the "bad guys" are also "good" (and so the pairs are similar)
  • The fact the crime solvers pair do not turn-in the letter to the police
  • The fact the 'detective' knows where 'Rache' and the 'limping doctor' hide, but again doesn't say anything to the police

I know you can attempt and explain each of the above items individually such that they will not contradict version-0, but any such explanation would always be accompanied by "I think", "I believe", "it seems", "it appears", etc. The bottom line is that it is unavoidably a matter of opinion: you interpret the above items to support version-0 alone, I do so to support the co-existence of version 0-1. The bottom line is that both interpretations are conceivable, and thus both should be reflected in the article.

Will you please allow me to re-insert my view if I articulate it such that it is clear it doesn't contradict yours?

--Dan.tsafrir 23:06, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Having read your argument, Dan, it seems that I have misunderstood your original interpretation, and thus deleted your points under a faulty impression. Looking back, my actions also seem unforgiveably arrogant, which was certainly not my intention nor the way I wished to come across. I therefore withdraw my opposition to your original post entirely, and offer my sincerest and unreserved apologies for the way I conducted this matter, as you correctly observe that I should have provided the material here for others to see. In defense of my actions, however, your original inclusion could have been worded in a way that made what you were trying to say a bit clearer.
Just one last thing I will say, however; whereas it is clear that I have also misjudged your experience with Wikipedia in my earlier discussion, you yourself make something of an incorrect assumption about my posting history - I actually dove in head-first when I originally discovered Wikipedia and picked up what I needed to know as I went along, rather than studying it's mode of operation before deciding to edit; I was operating under the (again, clearly erroneous :-)) assumption that you were as well. My earlier advice, therefore, now seems unforgiveably condescending; please accept my apologies for this as well, as well as my sincere assurances that I had no intention of patronising you and that my earlier comments were motivated out of a genuine desire to be helpful by informing you of this and a genuine assumption that you were new to Wikipedia in more ways than just having only recently set up an account.
In any case, apologies once again for both my edits and my conduct, and if you re-include your original interpretation, rest assured you'll get no objection from me. --Joseph Q Publique 00:46, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

I am proud we were able to resolve our differences in such a way. And I further know not many are capable of offering this kind of an apology. I do, truly, appreciate it.

--Dan.tsafrir 01:34, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

A suggestion about what's lacking[edit]

I think this article is lacking a more complete exploration of the similarities and inversions to A Study in Scarlet and the rest of the SH work. I wish I could do that, but there are better Holmesians out there.

Spoiler tags[edit]

I'm again removed the spoiler tags, since they're in a clearly marked plot summary section. --Tony Sidaway 02:09, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

My reasoning is that reading the plot of this story is an unusually bad spoiler so we should take extra effort to warn people off. You could start reading the plot section to get an idea of the story's setting, but the spoilers start from the first sentence emphasising that the narrator is unnamed when we are set up to believe he is John Watson. Slogby 08:39, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Characters Explicitly Named[edit]

The article says that "none of the characters are explicitly identified in the text," but I just finished listening to the audiobook which clearly states that the limping doctor is one John Watson, a wounded veteran of the Afghan campaign. I don't know how much more explicit Gaiman could be. Is this a later revision to make the twist clearer, or is the article just wrong?—Preceding unsigned comment added by Seantrinityohara (talkcontribs)

You are correct. AJD (talk) 19:49, 6 December 2008 (UTC)


Is it likely that the events at the end are about the assassination of the GOO Czar? Even if NG thinks it is possible to kill a GOO, I read it simply as monsters exterminating all the humans in Russia. The reference to the real Czar assassination is pertinent, but suggesting even an attempted assassination of the GOO Czar surely needs a good source. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:49, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

I don't understand why Tsar Alexander II is mentioned either, since the story takes place in 1914. Given the date, I suppose it wouldn't be unlikely for a GOO's assassination to trigger a World War, but that's only speculation. The story itself mentions no assassination. (talk) 06:05, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Oh, never mind. I was being dense. I think I get it now. (talk) 06:06, 18 July 2009 (UTC)