2

Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a "reaction would seize him", and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night.

A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle

I have no idea what this sentence could possibly mean. However, I made some guess. My best attempt to guess the meaning was that it may mean there was a emotional disorder that is making him unable to do anything.

3

I thought I recognised the text - it's from 'A Study in Scarlet' - the first of the series of Sherlock Holmes stories, which gives an idea of the time the story was written and set in.

The paragraph in question describes Watson's first impressions of Holmes:

Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with. He was quiet in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and gone out before I rose in the morning. Sometimes he spent his day at the chemical laboratory, sometimes in the dissecting-rooms, and occasionally in long walks, which appeared to take him into the lowest portions of the city. Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night.

Although the modern day definition of reaction is more familiar to us - to do something in response to a stimulus of some sort, a somewhat archaic definition of the word is:

depression or exhaustion due to excessive exertion or stimulation

... which fits the scenario described above. Holmes would work tirelessly, apparently to the point of overexertion, and would then fall into a depression for a few days.

  • Points for citing the original source. – Teacher KSHuang Jan 19 '17 at 9:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.