Around Holmesian World by
It is Always a Joy…
to me to meet an American, a Briton, a Japanese, a Canadian...
Around the World of Sherlock Holmes in Fifteen years
Mycroft's Brother Editons, 2000.
Adapted to English by Wladimir and Nissa Bogomoletz
Edited by Thierry Saint-Joanis (SSHF, BSI, SHSL, JHWS)
Text in English
160 pp, in color - Large format: 24,5 x 34 cm
Illustrated hardcover - Very beautiful album!
Weight: 1,3 kg
25 € (free shipping!)
A journey around the universe of Sherlock Holmes’ afficionados through the illustrations of Jean-Pierre Cagnat.
This volume brings a real insight into Sherlock Holmes’ societies which have grown up around the world. It transports you there through the work of Jean-Pierre Cagnat, the eminent French illustrator and political cartoonist, whose work appears in the pages of the prestigious newspaper Le Monde.
Over the last 15 years the artist has met admirers of Sherlock Holmes around the world, both at large and at scholarly, and sometimes eccentric, meetings, some of them quite extraordinary, even surreal. Such gatherings have been taking place since 1934 when the first Sherlock Holmes Society was established in New York. Within this de luxe volume the artist brings you a complete collection of his Holmesian work, drawings and sketches, all in full colour. His illustrations will guide you along the very same paths he has taken,from New York to San Francisco, from London to Tokyo and from Paris to Meiringen, in the mountains of Switzerland, where Holmes duelled at the waterfall with his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty. The artist’s dazzling and creative style will introduce you to the personalities of those whom he has met as they pursue the Holmesian legend. His hand guides you into the inner circles of the Baker Street Irregulars of New Tork, the Persian Slipper Club, the Scowrers and the Molly Maguires of San Francisco, the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, the Sherlock Holmes Club of Japan and many others including last, though not least, the Société Sherlock Holmes de France.
And there is another dimension. Cagnat has a reputation for reaching into the heart of any culture and country which he visits. Through the instruments of pencil, pen and brush, he brings to the fore a sharp, sometimes searing perception of the characters who make up that national culture. His style mixes fun and humour with the sharp, often barbed thrust of the acerbic style of a leading political cartoonist in the daily pages of the French press.
The volume is divided into five main sections:
Great Britain (London, Dartmoor etc)
The United States (New York, San Francisco etc)
France (Paris, Barbizon, Montpellier and Douai)
Each illustration has a caption written by the author himself. Each event recorded is accompanied by a brief account which encapsulates the time and place. These accounts are written by his wife, French journalist Christilla Cagnat, who undertook the same journeys.
No better person then than her to recreate the atmosphere and context of these intriguing encounters, with brain-tickling anecdotes sitting comfortably alongside the almost manic pen and pencil work, on sheet after sheet of the artist’s sketchpad and notebook. Finally, the whole volume not only pays homage to the universe of Sherlock Holmes. It gives the reader a real sense of the togetherness which permeates the memories of all those who find friendship and fellowship in that universe.
A quoi reconnaît-on un héros universel ? Notamment à la ferveur qu'on lui porte un peu partout dans le monde. Ainsi en va-t-il de Sherlock Holmes, dont les admirateurs sont réunis en sociétés holmésiennes, de Londres à New York, de Tokyo à Barbizon. Avec un regard et des crayons bien aiguisés, le dessinateur Jean-Pierre Cagnat a, pendant quinze ans, rencontré et partagé la passion de tous ces fondus de Baker Street. Il en a rapporté d'incroyables dessins, de délirantes anecdotes et des portraits si drôles, si beaux, si fantaisistes que, parfois, on se demanderait presque s'il n'a pas abusé de ces injections de cocaïne que réprouvait le bon Dr Watson. C'est là un compliment.
Reviewed by Roger Johnson,
District Messenger 208, 2000
An expensive, but also expensively produced is the first book from la Société Sherlock Holmes de France... the collected Sherlockian caricatures, cartoons and illustrations of Jean-Pierre Cagnat is rightly described as a de luxe edition. There are 160 pages of drawings and paintings, with illuminating comments by the artist’s wife Christilla, translated into English by Wladimir & Nissa Bogomoletz.
Jean-Pierre Cagnat is a leading illustrator and political cartoonist and his wonderful drawings have featured widely in Sherlockian and other magazines over the past 15 years. It’s a revelation, though, to see them in full colour. Here are the images he captured in New York, California, London, Dartmoor, Meiringen, Santa Fe, Tokyo, Montpellier, Paris and his own home of Barbizon. A quick flick through the pages shows the faces of Albert Kunz, Tom Stix Jr, John Farrell, Frank Allen, Vosper Arthur, John Bennett Shaw, Bob Thomalen, Hirayama Yuichi and - er - Mickey Mouse among many others.
It Is Always a Joy . . . is the most handsome Sherlockian volume I’ve seen since Bill Blackbeard’s Sherlock Holmes in America. It really is worth the price.
Reviewed by Peter Blau,
Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press 2001
Jean-Pierre Cagnat is a splendid French illustrator and political cartoonist, and he has been attending Sherlockian gatherings for 15 years, and of course rendering what he has seen in his unique style. His tour "around the world of Sherlock Holmes" is now available, in full color and with text in English, in IT IS ALWAYS A JOY...TO ME TO MEET AN AMERICAN, A BRITON, A JAPANESE, A CANADIAN, A SWISS...
C'est un très bel ouvrage que ce livre de dessins, qui a toute sa place dans une bibliothèque d'Holmésien-ne passionné-e. A mon avis même, plus on est un Holmésien (ou Sherlockien !) érudit, et intégré dans cette communauté, et plus on doit profiter de la foultitude de rencontres, détails et « private jokes » que nous fait partager Jean-Pierre Cagnat. Le moindre plaisir n'étant peut-être pas de se reconnaître croqué au détour d'un dessin.
Entendons nous bien, le fil directeur des textes et dessins est bien « les admirateurs de Sherlock Holmes » et pas Sherlock Holmes lui-même, ce qui nous transporte en Holmésie dans un « carnet de rencontres » proches du pèlerinage :
- Rencontres avec des lieux, comme les mythiques chutes autrichiennes où churent Holmes et Moriarty, ou bien des pays où la passion holmésienne essaime historiquement, ou étonnamment.
- Rencontres avec des Holmésiens érigés en personnages par la vision humoristique et respectueuse de Cagnat, mais aussi par la dimension généreuse et colossale -toujours avec humour- de l'érudition passionnée qu'ils nous font partager.
Au fil des pages, le lecteur pourra ainsi découvrir ces étranges pratiques, dont les rencontres, quizz, pique-niques, déguisements, pèlerinages et collections (je rêve d'avoir aussi de la véritable laine d'un non moins véritable mouton du Dartmoor !).
- Rencontre enfin, pour le lecteur, de l'auteur et sa petite famille, puisque nous en partageons les visions et les pensées dans des textes envolés et parfois sympathiquement futiles (mais oui, c'est agréable une anecdote de coinçage d'ascenseur ou de retard à un rendez-vous, quand c'est bien conté !), et teints des émotions vécues dans leurs périples.
Il faut également souligner le gros travail de mise en page de l'éditeur, le dessin de Cagnat se prêtant peu, je trouve, au cadrage de type bande-dessinée. L'idée de traduire tout le texte en « retrait », à la fin du livre, est bien assumée, et finalement assez pratique pour qui ne lirait pas l'anglais, les croquis pouvant quasiment se suffire à eux-même.
Extracts from the book:
Allen in Wonderland
Frank Allen was enormous. A giant. When you looked at him, you felt like a dwarf. As though you were a child again. Probably because of his waistline or his big hands or his tree-like eyebrows and white mane, or his authoritative thick bottom lip which changed with the slightest smile. Or his feet, squarely planted on the ground, and clad in gaiters as large as white tablecloths. Or his legs as thick as the trunk of an old oak. Or his voice rumbling like thunder. Or perhaps his terrible Oxford accent which left his audience speechless with incomprehensionn...
I hate Dartmoor! It is cold, damp and muddy. No sandwiches are available in the only pub on the road leading there. It is naturally pure sacrilege to make such a statement. It's just too bad! I'll accept it! I'll abide by it! And I'll repeat it, if necessary!
Dartmoor makes you want to divorce and hate your husband. Sherlock and all monomaniacs created by that misogynous bachelor make you sick. Other than that, should you travel across that soaking wet countryside in a Rolls, with your feet nice and warm and no baby in the back seat, then Dartmoor could be beautiful...
The Dreadful Cauldron
Meiringen, May 1987
I remember. It was long ago. In 1887. Humph... No... in 1987. It was my first Meiringen pilgrimage and I was terrified and shaking. And then, again in 1991...
I remember the arrival of the train and the citizens of Meiringen who had all donned 19th-century dress to welcome the mythical Sherlock Holmes.
I remember Cardinal Tosca all in red, a colour which matched his merry crimson complexion, blessing the crowd again and again. I also remember that a few years later, in Montpellier, he was amongst the courageous ones to face an icy wind and dive into the raging Mediterranean Sea. He was then 80 years old...
Michael Kean is a lover. A real lover, forever seeking the object of his desire. Always filled with tenderness, consideration, kindness, extravagance. He never tires and has had the same blind passion for more than 20 years. He began his lover career when he was quite young and pursues it with determination. Michael Kean loves Sherlock Holmes. Do not get me wrong: it is not a single-minded obsession, there is no ambiguity. He is a happy family man and often indulges in culinary art with his wife at weekends. He also keeps a close eye on his children’s education.
But, there you are, Sherlock Holmes plays an important part in his life, so important that he would have liked to call his son Arthur Conan, had his wife not vetoed it. The boy is called Adam Conan, so the initials are preserved. In any case, Baskerville, the family dog, keeps an eye on things from his corner.
John Bennett Shaw
No alleged Sherlock Holmes admirer could have passed by Santa Fe (New Mexico) – not even at a distance of a thousand miles or so – without paying a call on the wisest, the most learned, loved and respected of Holmesians: John Bennett Shaw. The admiration of some Japanese was such that they were prepared to fly from Tokyo to New Mexico just to meet him. That is not so surprising, except for Hirayama Yuichi (Editor of the Shoso-in Bulletin) who was on his honeymoon at the time! The story does not say whether Yuichi’s most charming wife would have preferred another destination... However, John Bennett would have put her at ease with his usual grace, for he had boundless charm. Jean-Pierre and I, being naïve and very enthusiastic, did not fully realise how such an endless line of admirers must have wearied him. John held open house, shared his knowledge and treated everyone to his anecdotes begrudging neither his time nor his friendship. His wife Dorothy would watch over him and offer a glass of sun-tea in the afternoon heat of New Mexico.
As it was our first meeting with John he proposed to come and collect us in the town center of Santa Fe.
Baker Street Irregulars of New York
The Algonquin Totems 1992
For an ordinary French girl in love with American and Anglo-Saxon literature, a stay at the Algonquin can be compared to a fan of Michelangelo entering the Sistine Chapel... What is so wonderful is that the hotel has remained loyal to its origins. Everything one imagined is there – desk and panelling, velvet armchairs, bar, soft lights. It is not hard to see Dorothy Parker holding a drink and spitting out nasty and witty repartees. Things seem different when you know what personal tragedies were responsible for that sarcastic and hot-tempered personality – losing her mother at the age of 5, then her stepmother, then her brother in the shipwreck of the Titanic. Another rescue was probably not possible. I definitely feel close to Dorothy who must have had to fight for a place amongst the Vanity Fair and New Yorker reporters. A man can smash his fist in the face of an aggressor to defend himself but a woman must use her wit.
So there is no better place in New York to hold a Holmesian get-together. When at last, the great weekend arrives the lobby comes alive as before. The bustle, laughter and clinking glasses fill the area. Three days of sheer joy. That is where I saw John Farrell for the first time...
Late John Farrell,
the Tiger of San Pedro.