Nation Notices Study in Scarlet

It was last week that the Albemarle School Board voted to remove Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet from the sixth grade reading list, in response to a parent’s complaint that the book’s portrayal of Mormons is insulting to them. Now it’s making national headlines with outlets like The Atlantic and Time writing of the book’s “ban.” (It wasn’t banned—it was stricken from the sixth grade reading list.) The brief novel was the first Sherlock Holmes story, one of four novels featuring the famed detective, although it was the short stories that made the character famous. A committee was appointed to read the book, and in the committee’s report (2.9MB PDF) they explain that they “could not fathom how anyone who read the book with a critical eye could not see the overwhelming religious bias presented,” and that the book’s general lack of critical claim made it a less than ideal choice for introducing middle school students to the genre, anyhow. I recommend starting with Part 2, Chapter 3 to get a sense of the book’s depiction of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Since there’s really nothing more to this story, presumably the national attention will die off pretty quickly.

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