9. An Exciting Christmas Eve, or, My Lecture on Dynamite


'An Exciting Christmas Eve, or, My Lecture on Dynamite' is a semi-comic short story, written by Conan Doyle in summer 1882 and first published in December 1883.

You can read the stories here: https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=An_Exciting_Christmas_Eve.

The episode can be heard here: http://doingsofdoyle.podbean.com/.

 

Synopsis

After a successful, and inadvertently eventful, student career at Heidelberg, Herr Doctor Otto von Spee, expert in explosives, has settled down to a peaceful life as a private tutor and research scientist in Berlin. However, his peace is shattered one wild and tempestuous Christmas Eve when he is called out unwillingly on an emergency medical errand, which results in an impromptu lecture to a particularly dangerous audience...



Writing and publication history

Written in summer 1882 and first published in the Boy’s Own Paper in December 1883.

Republished in Every Boy’s Monthly in Feb-March 1905.

J. M. Gibson and R. L. Green, The Uncollected Conan Doyle (1982).

 

International terrorism, Nihilism and Fenianism

Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_I_of_Russia.

Tsar Alexander II (1855-1881), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_II_of_Russia.

Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite (1833-96). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Nobel

James Stevens, Fenian leader (1825-1901). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Stephens_(Fenian)

R. L. Stevenson & F. Stevenson, More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter (1885), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_New_Arabian_Nights:_The_Dynamiter.

Oscar Wilde, Vera; or the Nihilists (c. 1880), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera;_or,_The_Nihilists.

Vera Zasulich, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Zasulich.

Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons (1862), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fathers_and_Sons_(novel).

 


Semi-autobiographical elements

Feldkirch, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feldkirch,_Vorarlberg.

Stella Matutina, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stella_Matutina_(Jesuit_school).

O. D. Edwards, The Quest for Sherlock Holmes (1983).

 

The Anarchists

Friedrich Staps, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Staps.

Felice Orsini, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felice_Orsini.

Francois Ravaillac (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Ravaillac.

Tsar Paul I, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_I_of_Russia#Assassination.

Cesare Lombroso, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesare_Lombroso.

 

Related Conan Doyle works


'A Night Among the Nihilists' (1881), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=A_Night_Among_the_Nihilists.

'Touch and Go: A Midshipman’s Story' (1886), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Touch_and_Go:_A_Midshipman%27s_Story.

'That Little Square Box' (1881), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=That_Little_Square_Box.

'The Winning Shot' (1883), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Winning_Shot.

'The Silver Hatchet' (1883), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Silver_Hatchet.

'A Pastoral Horror' (1890), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=A_Pastoral_Horror.

'The Great Keinplatz Experiment' (1885), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Great_Keinplatz_Experiment.

'Danger! Being the Log of Captain John Sirius' (1914), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Danger!.

'The Story of the Man with the Watches' (1898), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Story_of_the_Man_with_the_Watches.

 


Sherlockian connections

'A Study in Scarlet' (1887), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=A_Study_in_Scarlet.

'A Scandal in Bohemia' (1891), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=A_Scandal_in_Bohemia.

'The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter' (1893), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Adventure_of_the_Greek_Interpreter.

'The Adventure of the Red Circle' (1911), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Adventure_of_the_Red_Circle.

'His Last Bow' (1917), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=His_Last_Bow.

'The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez' (1904), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Adventure_of_the_Golden_Pince-Nez.

Chris Redmond, ‘Nihilism, NKVD, and the Napoleon of Crime’ (Sherlock Holmes Journal, v.7, n4, p.104-7).

 

Absurdist anarchist stories

R. L. Stevenson & F. Stevenson, More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter (1885), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_New_Arabian_Nights:_The_Dynamiter.

Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime (1887), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Arthur_Savile%27s_Crime_and_Other_Stories.

G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Was_Thursday.

Jack London, The Assassination Bureau (1916), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Assassination_Bureau#Original_novel.

Eugene Moret, An Anarchist (Strand Magazine, 1894).

 

Next time on the Doings of Doyle…

Conan Doyle’s ‘A Straggler of ‘15’ (1891) and the stage adaptation of the same, ‘Waterloo’ (1894). Read them here: https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=A_Straggler_of_%2715 and https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=A_Story_of_Waterloo

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to our sponsor, Belanger Books: www.belangerbooks.com.

Image credits: Thanks to Alexis Barquin at The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopaedia for permission to reproduce these images. Please support the encyclopaedia at www.arthur-conan-doyle.com.

Music credit: Sneaky Snitch Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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