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Exclusive: Stephen Fry on why Sherlock Holmes was the precursor to Marvel and DC

Fry has narrated the complete set of the famed fictional detective's adventures for Audible

Clarisse Loughrey
Thursday 02 March 2017 12:15
Exclusive: Stephen Fry on why Sherlock Holmes was the precursor to Marvel and DC

Sherlock Holmes is the unfading literary icon - as beloved and as relevant as he was over 120 years ago.

To celebrate his currency, Audible has released Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection; Arthur Conan Doyle's complete adventures of the famed detective, as narrated by lifelong fan Stephen Fry, including nine personal introductions exclusive to Audible.

One of these introductions sees Fry recount how, in many ways, Sherlock Holmes' adventures actually acted as a precursor to the rise of the comics industry - and of the superheroes who now populate Marvel and DC.

"Heroes with remarkable gifts are as in vogue now as they have been since they first appeared, perhaps even more in vogue," he mentions. "But although the very first one was launched in serial published form just like his masked and body-suited successors, it was not in DC or Marvel comic books that he made his appearance, rather it was in the sedate and respectable pages of Mrs Beeton’s Christmas Annual in the mid-Victorian year 1887."

"This caped crusader’s cape was made of finest British tweed. His magical gifts were not the ability to fly or x-ray vision – his superpower was that he had trained his mind into a uniquely powerful weapon which could solve mysteries, unmask the guilty and right wrongs."

Our superhero obsession may feel as modern as it gets, but Fry believes Conan Doyle's hero is just as essential now as he was in his creation. "Time and time again generations have shown that they need Holmes," he explains. "Something in his assured blend of omniscience and infinite tenacity, humanised with intriguing character flaws, speaks deeply to our need for solutions to the problems of our very different world today. We watch him and the faithful Watson, our reliable narrator, descend the seventeen steps from their upper-story rooms and out into Baker Street and we feel reassured."

Sherlock Homes: The Definitive Collection is available for £79.99, though Audible subscribers can pay for the entire set with just one download credit. Those without a subscription can download the collection as part of the audiobook service's one free trial download.

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