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The Hound of the Baskervilles


Added Mon, 26/04/2021
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The Hound of the Baskervilles

Detective story "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (orig. "The Hound of the Baskervilles") from the series of stories about Sherlock Holmes was first published from August 1901 to April 1902 in the monthly magazine "Strand Magazine".

The work has a huge cultural significance. The story has been filmed many times, and it is still referenced in books, films, cartoons, songs, games, etc.

Sherlock Holmes is approached by James Mortimer, a village doctor in the village of Grimpen (Dartmoor, Devonshire). His long-time friend and patient, Sir Charles Baskerville, died 3 months ago under mysterious circumstances.

The Baskervilles, who have long lived on the Baskervilles ' ancestral estate near the vast Dartmoor marshes, have passed down the family tradition of a ghost dog that haunts all the Baskervilles on the moors at night. According to an old legend dating from 1742, the dissolute Hugo Baskerville kidnapped a girl (the daughter of a local farmer), but that night she escaped from him and ran home through the swamps. Hugo set off in pursuit of her, but was eventually killed in the swamps by a ghostly creature (the girl also died of fear and loss of strength), which since then periodically reminds itself of the mysterious deaths of other members of the Baskervilles. The ghost is described in legend as a huge black dog with glowing eyes and a mouth.

Dr. Mortimer says that Sir Charles Baskerville, who believed in the family legend and did not dare to go out on the moors at night, was found dead in the yew alley of his own estate near the gate leading to the moors. Everything pointed to death by natural causes (heart disease), but at some distance from the body, the doctor found dog tracks of enormous size. In addition, shortly before the death of Sir Charles, farmers living near Baskerville Hall several times saw a terrible glowing ghost at night, according to the description very similar to the dog of the Baskervilles from the legend.

Dr. Mortimer, as the trustee and executor of Sir Charles, asks Holmes for advice on how to deal with Sir Henry Baskerville, the heir to the estate and the last scion of the Baskervilles. The detective invites the doctor and the heir, who arrives in London in an hour, to his house. The next day, the clients come to Holmes. It turns out that Sir Henry has already received an anonymous letter warning him to stay away from the peat bogs, and a little later Holmes and Watson discover that Sir Henry is being followed. Attempts to find out anything about the follower and the author of the anonymous letter are unsuccessful. On the advice of Holmes, the heir goes to the family estate, accompanied by Dr. Watson, who is assigned the task of observing what is happening and writing detailed reports about it to the detective by mail.

Sir Henry and Dr. Watson, on their way to the estate, learn of the escape from the prison of the convict Selden ("the Notting Hill murderers"). In the evening, they arrive at Baskerville Hall, surrounded by swamp and bordered by the dangerous Grimpen bog, and meet the servant – butler John Barrymore and his wife-housekeeper Eliza.

Dr. Watson begins the investigation by meeting Sir Henry's neighbors, the entomologist Jack Stapleton and his sister Baryl, who tries to warn Sir Henry of the danger through Watson; as well as the elderly Mr. Frankland, a political-minded amateur astronomer, and his daughter Laura Lyons, who had an incomprehensible relationship with Sir Charles Baskerville. Sir Henry tries to start a love relationship with Baryl Stapleton, but the attempt ends in his quarrel with her brother Jack, who then apologizes to Sir Henry and invites him to his house for dinner. Later that night, Watson and Sir Henry find Barrymore signaling with a candle to the marshes and learn that the convict Selden is the brother of Eliza Barrymore, the butler's wife. Watson and the Baronet's attempt to catch Selden fails.

Soon, in the marshes, Dr. Watson meets Sherlock Holmes, who, as it turned out, was nearby all this time, but at the same time acted secretly so as not to frighten the criminal, who eventually turns out to be Jack Stapleton (later it turns out that he seduced Laura Lyons and forced her to lure Sir Charles out of the house to the gate to the marshes, ostensibly on a date, and Baryl Stapleton was actually his wife, not his sister). Meanwhile, Stapleton accepts the first attempt to kill Sir Henry, but in the end, the convict Selden is killed (he was dressed in an old suit of Sir Henry). After seeing a portrait of Hugo Baskerville in Baskerville Hall, Holmes and Watson realize that he looks exactly like Stapleton, who in fact turns out to be a direct descendant of the Baskervilles, claiming the inheritance. It is later revealed that Jack Stapleton was the son of the younger brother of Sir Charles (Roger Baskerville), who escaped from England to Central America and died of yellow fever. After returning to Devonshire, Jack Stapleton decided to ingratiate himself with Sir Charles and get an inheritance. Having learned from Sir Charles himself the legend of the hound of the Baskervilles, Stapleton decided to use it for his own purposes. Knowing that Sir Charles might die of extreme fright, he bought a huge dog (a cross between a bloodhound and a mastiff), secretly brought it to the marshes, painted it with a special luminous composition, and at the right moment set it on Sir Charles Baskerville; in the end, the baronet, frightened by the imaginary ghost, ran and died on the run from a heart attack.

Holmes believes that the evidence he and Watson have gathered is not enough to bring Stapleton to trial by jury, and decides to take him red-handed at the scene of the crime, exposing Sir Henry as "bait". Holmes and Watson pretend to have gone to London, but in reality they are hiding near Stapleton's house with Inspector Lestrade, who has arrived from the capital. Despite the thickening fog, they manage to kill the dog as soon as it knocks Sir Henry to the ground. But Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade fail to arrest Stapleton: fleeing from the chase, he drowns in the Grimpen bog.

Phenomena in artwork: Black Shaq

The Baskervilles family legend of a devilish dog of supernatural origin that haunts all members of the Baskervilles, described in the story, is most likely based on stories about the most famous representative of the ghost dogs from English legends – the Black Shak, a ghostly black dog that appears on the coast and in the countryside in the territory of East Anglia.

In the book, the monster is described as a giant (the size of a calf) black dog, shrouded in a ghostly glow, which began to haunt the Baskerville family after Charles Baskerville and his friends kidnapped a girl in 1742, who later escaped. In pursuit of the fugitive, Charles shouted that he was ready to betray his body and soul to an unclean spirit that very night, if only he could catch up with the girl. Soon, three of his carousel friends saw a huge, glowing, ghostly dog rip out Charles ' throat next to the lifeless body of a girl who had died of fright and exhaustion. Their hunting dogs were clearly afraid.

Most often, the work describes the heart-rending howl that the animal emits. The dog itself is described only in one place in the story as follows:

It was a dog, a huge, coal-black dog, but such a dog as no mortal eye had ever seen. Its mouth spewed flames, its eyes burned like hot coals, and its muzzle, neck, and chest were surrounded by flickering flames. Never could a maddened mind, in its most disordered delirium, have imagined anything more wild, more terrible, more hellish, than this dark figure with an animal face, leaping out at us from the wall of fog. With long leaps, the huge black thing was rushing down the path, following at the heels of our friend.

The text states that the dog being passed off as a ghost is a cross between a bloodhound and a mastiff ("thin, wild and the size of a small lioness"), whose muzzle was smeared with a special compound based on phosphorus, which was the cause of the ghostly glow.

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