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Conan DoyleWriting, Profession, and Practice$
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Douglas Kerr

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199674947.001.0001

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(p.79) 4 Science
Conan Doyle

Douglas Kerr

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a thick description of a turning point in Conan Doyle's life, drawing on his writing about his visit to Berlin in 1890 to report on Robert Koch's vaunted cure for tuberculosis. Here was the cutting edge of the profession, modern laboratory research, practiced by celebrity scientists like Koch who were national and imperial heroes. But was science advancing at the cost of its humanity? The Professor Challenger stories are examined next, with their charismatic but egotistic scientist-hero supported (and thwarted) by professional bureaucratic practices: The Lost World is the adventure of a scientific committee. The last section shows that Conan Doyle conceived history-writing as a reconstructive science like paleontology and, like many contemporaries, admitted no two-cultures divide, but argued for science as an activity of the imagination – both Challenger and the highly imaginative Sherlock Holmes exemplifying this.

Keywords:   Science, professionalism, scientific romance, The Lost World, charisma, bureaucracy, scientific method

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