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The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter Quotes

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will look at some of the quotes from 'The Adventures of the Greek Interpreter' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This story has some great examples of the characters' personalities.

'The Adventures of the Greek Interpreter'

This is a case of a gentleman who works as an interpreter and seeks Holmes's assistance in understanding a job he has been hired for. The interpreter was asked to participate in an interrogation of a man who is clearly being tortured when a woman appears who seems to know the tortured man. The hostage does not succumb to the demands, but instead cries out to the woman. The interpreter is not comfortable participating in the torture of the poor man, but does so on threat of his own death, seeking out Holmes after he is released. Later they learn that the woman is the sister of the tortured man and the interrogators are agents of her kidnapper. They are trying to force the brother to sign her inheritance over to them. The quotes in this story provide insight to the characters in the series.

Surely They Were Hatched in a Lab

As is typical of these stories, Watson learns something new about Sherlock here. It is particularly funny to hear his perception of Sherlock as being almost inhuman and how he is surprised to learn Sherlock actually has relatives:

'During my long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Sherlock Holmes I had never heard him refer to his relations, and hardly ever to his own early life. This reticence upon his part had increased the somewhat inhuman effect which he produced upon me, until sometimes I found myself regarding him as an isolated phenomenon, a brain without a heart, as deficient in human sympathy as he was pre-eminent in intelligence. His aversion to women and his disinclination to form new friendships were both typical of his unemotional character, but not more so than his complete suppression of every reference to his own people. I had come to believe that he was an orphan with no relatives living, but one day, to my very great surprise, he began to talk to me about his brother.'

As we can see from this quote, Watson is surprised to learn that Sherlock is more human than he initially believed. However, that is not the only surprising fact Watson learns.

Sherlock is 'The Dumb One' in the Family

Sherlock says of his inherited intelligence, 'Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms. . .' We can surmise here that Sherlock and Mycroft would be quite alike. But, then he explains that his brother is his intellectual superior, much to Watson's surprise:

'Because my brother Mycroft possesses it in a larger degree than I do.'

This was news to me indeed. If there were another man with such singular powers in England, how was it that neither police nor public had heard of him? I put the question, with a hint that it was my companion's modesty which made him acknowledge his brother as his superior. Holmes laughed at my suggestion.

Sherlock explains how this superiority has no actual benefit for Mycroft when it comes to detective work:

'I said that he was my superior in observation and deduction. If the art of the detective began and ended in reasoning from an arm-chair, my brother would be the greatest criminal agent that ever lived. But he has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go out of his way to verify his own solution, and would rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to prove himself right.'

The reader then learns of the Diogenes Club. To Sherlock, it is another indicator of Mycroft's personality:

'There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town.'

With early socialization from a founding member of this club, it makes sense that Sherlock behaves as he does. When we meet Mycroft, Sherlock and him create a game of deductions by analyzing the people who walk by. Here, we have a bit of an introduction to what it might have been like at home when Sherlock and Mycroft were children:

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