The Maniac Collector's Inbox (25)
Back to SherlockPeoria front page Novemner 24, 2002 Back to The Maniac Collector's Archives
To Inuit or Not to Inuit
I reported earlier in this column about the possible existence of an Inuit translation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. I thought I would give a play-by-play account of where this investigation stands and recap where it began.
Last month, I received an email from Takahiko Endo. He told me about a Website in Germany that listed an Eskimo edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles and features a picture of the books cover. I promptly visited the site, found the picture, and fired off an email to the site owner.
In the meantime, I wrote to friends in Canada and the living Sherlockiana database, Peter Blau. Peter had never heard of such a translation. Uh-oh. My friend in The Great White North suggested I contact Victoria Fill at the Toronto Metropolitan Reference Library. Neither she nor her colleagues had heard of an Eskimo or Inuit translation.
I heard back from Richard Kiederle, the gentleman from Germany whose site lists the Inuit translation. He related to me his interesting story of how he discovered Baskervillekut kingmerssuat that was published in 1961 by Gronlandske Forlag.
He told me how he had discovered the book through a friend in Denmark. He did not have an actual copy of the book, only a photocopy. He told me his first clue was in The Annotated Sherlock Holmes edited by William S. Baring-Gould on page 20.
I started working the Danish angle. I sent mail to Mia Stampe and Bjarne Nielsen. The Danish connection is where my first progress came from. It is not that I doubted Richard, it was that I wanted another verification. Mia was able to confirm the existence of the book and provided me the name of a bookstore in Greenland. It turns out that the book was published in Greenland. She also let me know that the library Statsbibliotheket i Aarhus in Denmark actually has three copies. Bjarne wrote to tell me he had a copy on his desk! The library had lent him a copy. He also had ordered a tape of an actual reading of The Hound of the Baskervilles in Inuit.
So up to this point I have traveled from a point where I did not know of the Inuit translations existence to learning that the book was published in the Inuit language in Greenland in 1961. I know that at least 3 copies are still around. So my next steps will be finding my own copy of this book or as many as I can because all along the way, everyone involved wants their own copy.
Atuagkat A/S, the bookstore in Nuuk, Greenland was not any help. They wrote back and told me there were no used bookstores in Greenland. I guess the 55,000 inhabitants are not that big on old books? I wrote every bookstore listed on www.abebooks.com. I provided them with the Inuit title, the publishing information, etc. I explained why I was searching for this book in Denmark. I have just started hearing back from these book dealers. One has already told they could not help me. Another seems truly intrigued and is doing searches.
I did find the publisher's web site. Their name has changed since they published the book. They told me they did not have any copies in their archives. I did find out from them that there had been 1,500 copies published.
I also searched the Internet for strictly Inuit sites. There were quite a few sites. I have contacted them with my same request. I am sure there is some Artic Circle native out there in their Kayak reading a tattered copy of Baskervillekut kingmerssuat totally unaware that there is this Maniac Collector in the lower forty-eight going crazy, searching for his own copy of that book.
Finally I hired a book search company that charge $3.00 a week per book. They will continue searching until the book is found or I cancel the search. I hope that all of my efforts pay off and I can take this Inuit treasure to New York City with me in January. Only time will tell.