“When it [Rachel’s get-together with her family] was finally over I was so happy to get back to my own home-sweet-home [a hotel that she owned] that I had a double vodka tonic, kicked off my shoes, turned up the tape player and danced the Pony right in the middle of the restaurant. . . I declared to my guests: ‘Friends, there is nothing like your own family to make you appreciate strangers.’ Then I kissed them all on their bald heads and gave them a round on the house.” – The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
“I beg permission to mention by name only four people who have given me the most affection, appreciation, and encouragement, and constant collaboration. The first of the four is a film editor, the second is a scriptwriter, the third is the mother of my daughter, Pat, and the fourth is as fine a cook as ever performed miracles in a domestic kitchen. And their names are Alma Reville.” – Alfred Hitchcock speaking of his wife, Alma, when he received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award in 1979
“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.” – Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
“Once you’ve decided that something’s absolutely true, you’ve closed your mind on it, and a closed mind doesn’t go anywhere. Question everything. That’s what education’s all about.” – Belgarath the Sorcerer, David Eddings
“It’s impossible to go through life unscathed. Nor should you want to. By the hurts we accumulate, we measure both our follies and our accomplishments.” – Inheritance, Christopher Paolini
“To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.” – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
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In The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1933) Vincent Starrett (1886 – 1974) includes a chapter entitled “Sherlock Holmes in Parody and Burlesque.” In it Starrett catalogues some of the many attempts to poke fun at the world’s best-known detective. The quotes below come from that chapter.
Possibly the most humorous libel ever perpetrated upon the name and fame of Mr. Sherlock Holmes was a drawing that appeared, a decade or so ago, in a leading comic journal. One remembers it with happiness.… With the utmost consternation depicted upon his familiar features, the great detective is shown upon a pebbled beach, his hand clapped wildly to his brow, what time his tragic eyes consider the stones that lie around him. Millions and millions of them, far as the eye can reach. And underneath the print the artist’s casual comment: “Portrait of a celebrated detective regretting his rash decision to leave no stone unturned.”
For the most part, Sherlockian travesties—whether in prose, or verse, or line—have been a little cruder than that most whimsical conception. Something, perhaps, of this sort has been a bit more common:
“Ah, my dear Watson! I see that you have put on your winter underwear.”
“Marvelous, Holmes! But how did you deduce it?”
“Elementary, my dear fellow. You have forgotten to put on your trousers!”
Bret Harte (1839 – 1902) is best known for short stories such as “The Outcasts of Poker Flat,” and “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” but he too had a go at spoofing the noble detective and the dog-like adoration of his sidekick, Dr. Watson.
Best known, perhaps, of the more literary parodies is that by Bret Harte, a better parodist than poet, appearing in that author’s second series of Condensed Novels. The Stolen Cigar Case is the title of the story.… “I found Hemlock Jones in the old Brook Street lodgings,” begins the narrative, “musing before the fire. With the freedom of an old friend I at once threw myself into my usual familiar attitude at his feet, and gently caressed his boot.…
“‘It is raining,’ he said, without lifting his head.
“‘You have been out, then?’ I said quickly.
“‘No. But I see that your umbrella is wet, and that your overcoat has drops of water on it.’
“I sat aghast at his penetration.”