The Hound of the Baskervilles
How does Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle develop and maintain an eerieatmosphere throughout his novel The Hound of the Baskervilles?
Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s novel, the Hound of the Baskervilles, wasoriginally published as a novel in 1902. This was an age when manypeople were interested in historical matters to do with things likeancient documents and there ancestors. Many of the popular books werein the supernatural and detective genres. These books wereparticularly popular with male readers and this is often due to theamount of main characters being male.
The Hound of the Baskervilles was originally published episodically inthe Strand magazine from August 1901 through to April 1902. Each monththe chapter would end with a cliff-hanger, this was mainly so peoplewould buy the next issue to find out what happens subsequently in thestory. After the serialised version of the story it was then publishedas a novel buy George Newnes Ltd in London, 1902.
Not only was The Hound of the Baskervilles popular as book, it wasalso popular as a film. In 1939 the Hound of the Baskervilles wasreleased for the first time as a film. The film was directed by SidneyLanfield and starred Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. It was thenfilmed again and released in 1959 when it was directed by TerrenceFisher with Peter Cushing and Andre Morell starring. Most recently thestory was filmed for the BBC as a ‘Christmas Special’ in 2002 for itscentenary year.
Even The Hound of the Baskervilles is over 100 years old it is still apopular book, it is the only one of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s books notto be out of print and this is why it is regarded as his best novel.
In Chapter 2 the curse …
…his adds to the eeriness. When thedog is finally unleashed Conan Doyle describes it as ‘In mere size andstrength it was a terrible creature which was lying stretched beforeus. It was not a pure bloodhound and it was not a pure mastiff; but itappeared to be a combination of the two — gaunt, savage, and as largeas a small lioness. Even now in the stillness of death, the huge jawsseemed to be dripping with a bluish flame and the small, deep-set,cruel eyes were ringed with fire. I placed my hand upon the glowingmuzzle.’ This description and similar ones add to the eeriness.
To conclude Conan Doyle uses several features to maintain an eeriefeeling. He uses an ancient family ghost story, a mysterious houseinhabited by a strange butler and his wife, treacherous moorland with‘living’ weather and an escaped convict along with the threat of thehound.