Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota - Sherlock Holmes The Norwegian Explorers
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ATTENTA: Current members, please renew your membership for 2022 on our Membership page.

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Call for papers: The Norwegian Explorers Christmas Annual for 2022

  Entries must be received by Friday, October 7, 2022.

The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota is a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars of New York, dedicated to keeping green the memory of the Master, Sherlock Holmes, and honoring his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In keeping with the heritage of our group, which unlike some other early scions that have excluded females from membership, the Explorers remain open to all! We welcome anyone who has an interest in Sherlock Holmes, regardless of age, sex or level of knowledge.

The group meets informally -- and irregularly -- to discuss latest happenings in the world of Holmes four to six times a year in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, usually at the Elmer L. Andersen Library on the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota. As the situation arises, we also attend performances of Holmes plays or movies as a group. We hold our annual meeting and dinner in December, featuring a Victorian-era meal, quizzes and a talk from a regionally known author. We have another annual event, Baker Street West, in January to celebrate the birthday of the Master. The group's newsletter, Explorations, is published irregularly two or three times a year, and the Sherlock Holmes Study Group meets monthly to discuss a tale from the Canon. An affiliated vocal-acting troupe, The Red-Throated League, performs vintage Holmes radio scripts once or twice a year complete with music and sound effects. If you are interested in joining a fun group of like-minded Holmes enthusiasts, please see our Membership page!

Current Events:

Norwegian Explorers Study Group: Third Saturday of the month at 2:00 PM

Saturday June 18, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.

Mary Loving will lead the discussion of the first A.J. Raffles collection, The Amateur Cracksman, by E.W. Hornung. See further information and discussion questions below. We are continuing to gather via Zoom. See the link and other information below; please forward to any Sherlockian friends and colleagues who may not be members of the Norwegian Explorers.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 828 223 3034
Passcode: 878937

Discussion questions:

  1. In "The Ides of March" we are introduced to A.J. Raffles and his friend, Bunny Manders. What are your first impressions of them both? How do they remind you (or not) of Holmes and Watson? What do you think of Raffles' solution to their mutual problem?
  2. Bunny seems to have a crisis of conscience throughout "The Ides of March" yet by the end he seems eager to "do it again!" Did Watson ever appear to succumb to the seduction of the various criminal acts he committed with Holmes? Or to him were they just a means to an end for the sake of justice?
  3. In "The Ides of March" Raffles and Bunny stole jewels from an impersonal jewelry store. In "A Costume Piece" we meet the target of their next crime. Are we less bothered because Rosenthal is not a sympathetic victim? Does the fact Raffles' plan to steal stones he can't sell due to their uniqueness make a difference? How does Raffles' love of costume make a difference in this story?
  4. Hornung's love of cricket is front-and-center in "Gentleman and Players." Bunny points out that Raffles only participates for the public image rather than the love of the sport. His concern seems to be the possibility that Raffles might be recognized when they are out committing their criminal acts. Are Bunny's concerns justified? Raffles compares himself to the violin virtuoso, Mr. Peace (Charlie Peace, mentioned by Holmes in ILLU) as proof a criminal should have "a parallel, ostensible career - the more public the better." Is he right?
  5. In "Le Premier Pas" Raffles tells Bunny about his first crime, which took place while he was a younger man visiting Australia. It's a tale of mistaken identity (for his own cousin!) with rather unbelievable circumstances that put him in the position of the opportunity to rob a bank and get away with it due to the incompetence of others. Do we believe this tale? Or is he pulling Bunny's leg?
  6. After enjoying the previous tales of two charming rogues having adventures, in "Willful Murder" Raffles states the shocking intention to kill a man. As readers how do we feel about that? Is this the point where we decide he's gone too far? How does this challenge our expectations? In 3GAR we fully accept Holmes' threat to Killer Evans when he states, "If you had killed Watson, you would have not got out of this room alive," but Raffles' attitude toward murder seems to be all about the drama surrounding "going out in a blaze of glory." Bunny thinks he's kidding but is shocked to realize he's dead serious about killing his dastardly criminal competition old Baird (who has put two-and-two together) to prevent exposure. Luckily for Raffles, someone else has beat him to it (shades of Milverton!) and as readers we can then relax.
  7. The newspaper ad offering £2,000 in "Nine Points of the Law" smells like a scam, and we are wondering why Raffles and Bunny (well, maybe not Bunny) would fall for it, but after the last story we're ready to get back to, hopefully, less violent adventures. They answer the ad with pseudonyms, but Bunny's concerns in "Gentlemen and Players" come home to roost when the solicitor who placed the ad, Addenbrooke, recognizes Raffles from his playing at Lord's Cricket Grounds. Nevertheless, the £2,000 offer stands and Raffles and Bunny are tasked to recover a valuable stolen painting from Sir Bernard Debenham. When Bunny takes the opportunity to recover the painting himself, does that support or conflict with Raffles' plans?
  8. What started in "Willful Murder" continues in "The Return Match" when Raffles is contacted by an escaped convict, Reginald Crawshay, who suspects Raffles is a fellow criminal and plans to force Raffles to help him get clean away "or else." Why did Raffles bolt the door and why was Bunny alarmed by it? Raffles lays on the charm and agrees to help and Crawshay, not the brightest bulb in the pack, dozes off while Raffles and Bunny leave where they immediately run into Mackenzie of Scotland Yard, who is looking for Crawshay. What follows is a rather comic chase where Raffles tries to misdirect the police and get Crawshay out of his flat. How does Raffles distract the police without implicating himself?
  9. The last story in this collection, "The Gift of the Emperor," has many elements reminiscent of SIXN, CHAS, and FINA. What are those elements? What are we to make of Bunny's obvious jealousy of Miss Werner? Do you think Raffles survives his escape and what then happens to Bunny?
  10. What did the first-time readers of Raffles think of the stories? Did the structure seem similar to you? What did you like? What did you not like? Do you want to read more? Like any other book, Raffles should be judged on its own merit, so how do we judge Hornung's work?

Upcoming Dates and Stories

The group normally meets the third Saturday of the month at 2:00 p.m., although we take a summer hiatus July through September. We're using the Jay Finley Christ four-letter abbreviations for the Canonical tales and taking them in alphabetical order.

But, on June 18 we'll take our traditional non-Canonical detour with a dive into the first A.J. Raffles collection, The Amateur Cracksman, by E.W. Hornung. Hornung was ACD's brother-in-law who decided to make his own contribution to the Crime Fiction genre with his creation of Arthur J. Raffles, AKA "The Gentleman Thief" (or you might say, "The Anti-Holmes"), and his friend and partner, Harry "Bunny" Manders. We will explore the similarities and differences between Holmes and Watson and Raffles and Bunny as well as the similarities and differences between the stories about the two partnerships. This should prove to be an interesting and exciting discussion! The Amateur Cracksman is available as inexpensive ebooks at the usual places (Amazon, etc.) and is also available for free at Project Gutenberg <>. Your local library may also carry a copy. You may also want to watch the on-screen characterization at the following link Raffles 1939 - David Niven, Olivia de Havilland, Dudley Digges, May Whitty - Bing video

Know that many other Sherlockian societies are offering virtual get-togethers open to all during the pandemic via Zoom, providing a perfect opportunity for many Norwegian Explorers who have not been able to travel to in-person events in the past to enjoy the camaraderie.

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The Norwegian Explorers are closely affiliated with the Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota, housed in Andersen Library, which contains the largest assemblage of Sherlockian materials in the world. The Explorers and the Collections have sponsored several highly praised conferences, also open to all, which are held every three years.

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