Whilst the 19th century context of these stories is very apparent, I do not believe that they make the stories too remote for the 21st century reader. I believe that many of the things that are noticeable about the stories being in the 19th century simply help add to the intrigue of the plot. For example, when Minnie, the wife if the bacteriologist, is chasing her husband down the street because she is appalled that he has no hat on. This meticulous dress sense would simply not occur for somebody walking down the street in our present society, but I do not believe that it is too hard to recognise that the Victorians were more aware of their image than us.
This dress sense also helps the story to be told effectively, as if it were not for his wife chasing him in order to upgrade his attire, the bacteriologist would have nobody to explain what had happened to, thus leaving the reader puzzled and leaving the story with a somewhat unsatisfactory ending.
Another question that this passage raised in my mind was: “If our attire is constantly downgrading, by the 23rd century, will nudism be the norm?” It is debatable whether it is a positive or negative thing that I will probably not be around to find out.”
Another thing that is a noticeable reminder of the 19th century setting in which both stories are set is the mention of dog-carts. Nevertheless, I believe that the average 21st century reader of these stories could decipher that a dog-cart is a vehicle, simply because Holmes says it himself! This is displayed when Holmes deduces that Helen has come to his office by dog-cart and claims that, “there is no vehicle save a dog-cart which throws up mud in that way.
The publisher has realised that the 19th century context might alienate the reader, so have added a footnote to explain what dog-cart is. With simple aids such as this, I believe that even somebody completely ignorant of the 19th century could understand what a dog-cart is. Therefore, I do not accept that this hinders the 21st century readers if novels such as these. Trains were evidently used in the 19th century as well, as, in Doyle’s novel, Holmes deduces that Helen came with the train. Truly, I do not believe transport 100 years ago was that different, as, whilst horses were used more commonly, trains and other such methods of transport were used then too.
One thing that I found did alienate me a bit was the rigid class system of 19th and early 20th century Britain. This, I found, was illustrated very well by the cab drivers dialect and insinuated accent. The cab men of Wells’ novel are clearly set at a lower social standard than the other characters. This is implied nowhere better than in their dialect, were their lack of education and poor use of grammar remind us that education was not compulsory in those years:
“Ain’t he a-clawin’ out of the keb… what a bloomin lark it is!” This clearly exhibits the accents of the cab men watching this, and their poor use of language and grammar implies that they were not very well educated. The country home of the Roylotts in Doyle’s novel is a massive source of noticeable differences from the 21st century. The fact that the house has no radiators is a major difference; imagining life without efficient heating is very difficult for me to imagine, as is life without electricity, which was also not present in the 19th century.
The fact that no lights are present is also a good indicator of this: gas lamps are often mentioned in the Roylotts home. Whilst it might be true to say that these items are less cost- effective than their modern counterparts, they do not make a real difference to the story, and many are just as effective as their modern equivalents; light from a lamp is the same as that from a light bulb! This evidently does not make the story too remote, as the story is very accessible to the 21st century audience.
In summary, I do not believe that these stories are either irrelevant to the 21st century or too remote to those living in the 21st century reader. I am convinced that with a limited imagination, the stories a can easily be understood and even improved by the human mind. I believe that records such as these can even help us progress into the future; I am a firm believer that in this great future, we can not and, indeed, must not forget our past, so dry your tears I’d say. Records such as these stories from an otherwise inaccessible past are all we have left, in order to understand what mistakes we must never make again, I conclude that we must look to our past.