Is Sherlock Holmes the first of the modern supermen of the West? Part of what fascinates Nachmu about the genius of Arthur Conan Doyle is his portrayal of Holmes as a Messiah Within the Limits of Reason Alone.
The more secular Western Civilization became, the more its literature has produced males who are specimens of perfection, but with horrible flaws. Superman, Batman, Spider Man, Iron Man, and the entire coterie accompanying them (for added profits) are examples which are often explored to this end. And aside from Wonder Woman (who may be an ironic production to begin with), where is the equivalent superwoman?
All of these supermen battle nemeses of various kinds, but they are all larger than life, an exhibition, in my mind, that Within the Limits of Reason Alone bogeymen do dwell. Sherlock Holmes conquered all, even Professor Moriarty, yet despaired frequently of life. If it was not stimulating, it was unbearable. Sherlock, in other words, leadeth me beside the rapids because he himself was unable to bear peace.
Sherlock Holmes is one of the earliest supermen to emerge to battle the bogeyman, but Arthur Conan Doyle is dissatisfied, demonstrating with his character that the Limits of Reason Alone does not leave us alone at all, and that the limits we place with our reason are not adequate, not adequate at all. A great darkness steals its way through the pale, and not even Sherlock Holmes can deliver us. Neither can Superman, Batman, Spider Man, nor Iron Man.