May 22, 2013

Free to American Digest Readers: The Quotable Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930)

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.” -The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

What everyone who cares about “the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known” knows is that today is the 154th birthday of Arthur Conan Doyle. Here's my homage to one of the world's greatest literary creations free to download.


Every so often, I either write or make a book. And every so often, as is the way of the world, those books go out of print. But not, I dare say, on the Internet. While it is not as compact or as slick as the original, it still has all the text and should give no little pleasure to those that love the "World's Greatest Consulting Detective."

Originally Published by The Mysterious Press (Time-Warner) in 2000.
Now sadly out-of-print -- except here.**

Click Right Here to Download Free PDF [ 530K ]

Please feel free to link here, to download, to email and otherwise and pass it along.

From the Preface:

"Indeed, with the publication of this work, possibly the last ever penned by my great-grandfather, it is our fond hope that the efforts of all involved may bring to you, dear reader, an opportunity to once more refresh yourself by drinking deep from the mind of the man my own great-grandfather once called, “the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known.”

The Quotable Holmes as reviewed by Otto Penzler in Penzler's Picks at Amazon

His roommate and amanuensis, John H. Watson, once described Sherlock Holmes as "the best and wisest man whom I have ever known." With the possible exception of Marv Epstein and Stanley Ellin, two dear old friends now deceased, I have to go along with that assessment. I discovered Holmes when I was pretty young, and nothing was more influential in my choosing this life of crime. The 56 stories and four novels that comprise the true canon are filled with more wisdom and quotable lines than any other single book aside from the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare.

Gerard Van der Leun has extracted scores of wonderful lines from the text, and they are a joy to sample. On jealousy, for example, Holmes says, "They are as jealous as a pair of professional beauties." On lost love: "A man always finds it hard to realize that he may have finally lost a woman's love, no matter how badly he may have treated her." Watson was a ladies' man, but Holmes, though unfailingly polite and protective of women, had his moments of misogyny: "Women are never to be entirely trusted--not the best of them." And: "I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money...."

As wonderful as this little volume is, it would be only fair to those who have gone before to note that there have been, over the years, many books devoted wholly or partially to Holmesian quotations, most notably Bruce R. Beamon's Sherlockian Quotations (1977); The Thoughts of Sherlock Holmes by S.H. Moss and R.L. Kuis (1976), My Life with Sherlock Holmes: Conversations in Baker Street by J.R. Hamilton (1944), and The Whole Art of Detection by Sherlock Holmes (compiled by John Bennett Shaw), 1968. Does the world need another compendium of Sherlockian quotations? Sure it does. How many editions of the Bible are there, and how many different versions of Shakespeare's plays? After all, Holmes is the best and the wisest man you will ever know. --Otto Penzler

** A few actual copies, new and used, persist within Amazon:

Posted by Vanderleun at May 22, 2013 9:04 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.


Posted by: David Sucher at December 20, 2004 1:10 PM

Thanks for sharing this.

Posted by: EagleSpeak at December 21, 2004 5:16 AM

Many thanks!

Posted by: Huw Raphael at December 21, 2004 5:34 AM

Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Posted by: P.A. Breault at December 21, 2004 11:17 AM

That's the only reason I read your site: freebies.

kidding, kidding.

Posted by: DeoDuce at December 21, 2004 7:11 PM

More freebies are coming.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at December 21, 2004 7:17 PM

Thanks. HO-HO-HO

Posted by: InstaPunk at December 22, 2004 5:27 AM

Bless you, sir.

Posted by: Hank Roberts at December 22, 2004 4:40 PM

Hi, thanks for the gift. I read him for years
and will enjoy reading these quotes.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a good New Year!
Thank you for all the learning I have done with
you, also the laughter I share with some of the
more, "different" matters you share with us.

Posted by: Carole at December 22, 2004 5:37 PM

Thank you sir.

Posted by: Evert V. in NL at December 26, 2004 11:41 AM

Thank you very much. I've brewed a fresh cup of English Breakfast, and now I'll read.


Posted by: Joy at December 28, 2004 10:12 AM

Thank you for sharing. I have kept a list of my favorite Holmes quotes as I read through the Canon. This is outstanding.

Posted by: Robert W. Scull at January 2, 2005 6:22 AM


Posted by: AlexanderSchmitz at February 9, 2005 3:17 PM

This is great!

But I think there's a mystery to be solved here or I'm in the Twilight Zone. It's almost April and all these posts are wishing you Merry Christmas.

Ground Control to Major Tom.. er.. Gerard....

Posted by: Amy at March 31, 2005 1:38 PM

um. Ground Control to Amy.... I didn't read the top part so interested was I in getting to the goods.

Duh.. :)

My bad.

Posted by: Amy at March 31, 2005 1:40 PM

I find this of great interest. For over a year, I've been enjoying volume I of Sir Conan Doyles great stories. The actor Jeremy Brett really made me interested in Mr. Holmes. Thank you for the download.

Posted by: linda at April 16, 2006 6:40 AM

My wife will enjoy this. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Eric Blair at May 23, 2006 6:49 AM

Thank you!!

Posted by: Fausta at May 23, 2006 9:09 AM

Thank you!!

Posted by: Fausta at May 23, 2006 9:09 AM

Thank you for passing on this great resource. Its wonderful to find someone who is willing to share good things without putting a price on them. This is priceless.
Dick Sherman

Posted by: Dick Sherman at May 23, 2006 11:47 AM

"Data, data, data .... I can not make bricks without clay!"


Posted by: Jeff Crump at May 23, 2006 12:32 PM

And in the spirit of the gift...

One day Holmes and Watson were coming home after a particular vexing case. One which the detective near despaired of solving, until he realized the solution lay in the repast served at the unfortunate's last meal.

Still, Watson had to confess to being befuddled still, and so he asked Holmes, "My good sir, how the deuce did you uncover the heart of the matter?"

To which Holmes replied, "Alimentary, my dear Watson."

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at May 23, 2006 4:06 PM

Thank you very much! What a marvelous gift.

Posted by: Tina at August 25, 2009 7:41 PM


thank you very much!

Posted by: pdwalker at August 26, 2009 10:25 AM

This is great. I just recently bought the Complete Sherlock Holmes so finding this is very timely.

Posted by: Retread at August 31, 2009 10:07 AM

I have had the book for a number of years. Now I am very happy to have the pdf verison and add it to my collection. Thank you for your dedication.

Posted by: Michael Qualls at March 21, 2012 12:51 PM

I knew there must be something more important to commemorate today than Wagner's 200th birthday. (Note: not a joke - I don't much like Wagner.)

Posted by: Dr Weevil at May 22, 2013 10:03 AM

ACD, always a good read. Something that has been on my mind lately.

A quote by a Carthaginian in “The Last of the Legions” by Arthur Conan Doyle 1900

“……..And they understood too late that it is the law of heaven that the world is given to the hardy and to the self-denying, whilst he who would escape the duties of manhood will soon be stripped of the pride, the wealth, and the power, which are the prizes which manhood brings”.

Posted by: Tom at May 22, 2013 11:56 AM

I bought the book a long time ago. If I were to send it to you would you autograph it?

Posted by: Jewel at May 22, 2013 12:17 PM

Thank you, GvdL. Am now 61% (so my kindle tells me) through The Complete Sherlock Holmes: with an introduction from Robert Ryan Your QUOTABLE SHERLOCK HOLMES is a splendid accompaniment.

After recently reading all (but the last) of Child's Reecher, and then Flynn's Rapp series, and finding them all blurring together, I decided to try one of the earlier (back to the future...) and started Sherlock Holmes.

Came across this passage the other night, from

There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion.
It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.

I as so happy to see this as one of your quotable quotes (on page 74). But, to simply see it as a comment on Floral Matters, I think, is to minimize both the profound and sublime nature of the observation.

I recently participated in the 10 part Catholicism series of Fr Barron. The quote above reminded me of something from that series, which I'll retype from the book (pp172-3):

"Aristotle said that the best activities are the most useless. This is because such things are not simply means to a further end but are done entirely for their own sake. Thus waching a baseball game is more important than getting a haircut, and cultivating a friendship is more valuable than making money. The game and the friendship are goods that are excellent in themselves, while getting a haircut and making money are in service of something beyond themselves. This is also why the most important parts of a newspaper are the sports sections and the comics, and not, as we would customarily think, the business and political reports. In this sense, the most useless activity of all is the celebration of the Liturgy, which is another way of saying that it is the most important thing we could possibly do. There is no higher good than to rest in God, to honor him for his kindness, to savor his sweetness--in a word, to praise him. As we have seen in chapter three (of the study materials), every good comes from God, reflects God, and leads back to God, and, therefore, all value is summed up in the celebration of the Liturgy, the supreme act by which we communicate with God."

Thank you again, Gerard.

Vires et Honestas,
Take good care,

Posted by: Sandy Daze at May 22, 2013 3:09 PM

Fantastic! Christmas in May.

Thank you.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at May 22, 2013 6:59 PM

Thanks, Gerard!

Posted by: Cameron at May 22, 2013 10:00 PM