‘My dear fellow,’ said Sherlock Holmes, as we sat on either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, ‘life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outré results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.’
‘And yet I am not convinced of it,’ I answered. ‘The cases which come to light in the papers are, as a rule, bald enough, and vulgar enough. We have in our police reports realism pushed to its extreme limits, and yet the result is, it must be confessed, neither fascinating nor artistic.’
Het doet plezier, Holmes en Watson aan te treffen terwijl ze zich verdiepen in esthestische vragen over de waarde van het realisme. En dat idee, over een stad zweven, alles in ogenschouw nemen en tegelijkertijd doorgronden, dat spreekt vermoedelijk iedere schrijver aan.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Case of Identity, in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Laurel Press, Londen, 1987, p. 47.