I know this was discussed on the community website earlier, but when you read an article with a ridiculous premise such as "Doyle made Holmes chuckle because he hated him and wanted Holmes to look like a doofus", you tend to get inattentive towards the end. Here's how Joe Queenan ends his article: "Last winter, hundreds of rough drafts of famous Sherlock Holmes stories were unearthed in the basement of the British Museum. In them, Holmes chuckles, Dr. Watson chuckles, Mycroft Holmes chuckles, even the demonic Professor Moriarty chuckles. They chuckle often and they chuckle loudly. But Doyle’s editors wisely forced him to delete most of these passages because they did such violence to the otherwise serious mood of the stories."
HUNDREDS OF ROUGH DRAFTS OF FAMOUS SHERLOCK HOLMES STORIES WERE UNEARTHED?! Where was I when this earth-shattering news was made? This is the real story, not an opinion piece about chuckleheads who don't know what chuckling is. According to Queenan "hundreds of rough drafts" were found in the British Museum's basement of Doyle's Holmes stories--note that "Doyle's editors" forced the deletion of the the offensive chuckles, so we're not talking about the Museum's famed pastiche manuscript library. So is this "hundreds" of different Holmes stories, meaning Doyle's Canon has now been greatly expanded? This would be like the Vatican announcing "Oh, by the way, we were doing a little fall cleaning and came across a hundred previously unknown Da Vinci paintings. See you at mass on Sunday"
Is this "hundreds" of pages of rough drafts of the known stories? If so, this would still be momentous as the number of extant manuscripts are finite and each new example of Doyle at his craft adds to our body of knowledge about the author and the world of Holmes. The BSI Manuscript Series has proved to be a trove of unexpected delights. In the recent "Irregular Stain" we find out that the celebrated line "Now, Watson, the fair sex is your department." was an afterthought.
Or is this "hundreds" of rough drafts of one story--as both Mycroft and Professor Moriarty are mentioned by Queenan as chuckling, that one story would have to be "The Final Problem", the only one which both appear in. Again, this would be worthy news as up till now it was thought that Doyle produced few rough drafts of any story. While he was known to make notes in preparation and during research, especially for his historical novels, he usually had given such deep thought to stories before hand that when it came time to write, it was usually one draft with few edits. But if there were "hundreds" of drafts of FINA, that means Doyle didn't toss off the Reichenbach incident as a quick way to kill Holmes, but was so unhappy with earlier results, he kept writing until he got it right. Just imagine what insights those rough drafts might contain. Could be that Holmes did not initially plunge off the Falls, but was shot by Moriarty, or stabbed, or killed by that falling brick. Perhaps Moriarty wasn't originally a Professor of Mathematics, maybe, shades of "BBC Sherlock" he was a Punch and Judy puppeteer entertaining children.
Whatever the true facts are about the "hundreds of rough drafts of famous Sherlock Holmes stories were unearthed in the basement of the British Museum", we can be sure one thing, it's not hyperbole by Queenen and the Weekly Standard owes us a follow-up story from that dusty basement.