Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Dysart, Sinclair Noel Brodie. Sinclair Noel Brodie Dysart was created by P.C. Wren (Otho Bellême, Dirty Dogs’ Club, Beau Geste, Major Hazelrigg, McSnortt, Sudden Death Lodge, Minna von Voehniger) and appeared in four novels from 1933 to 1940, beginning with Action and Passion.
Sinclair Noel Brodie Dysart is a Legionnaire. As a teenage apprentice Dysart works on the Valkyrie, treated no better than a slave and left sick of the sea and sailors. From there he enlists in the Life Guards and serves with them for a few years. He leaves the Guards to go on a gun-running expedition to Morocco; while there he is captured by nomad Arabs, sold as a slave, and then taken by his master to Mecca. The pilgrim ship returning Dysart from Jiddah is burnt, and he escapes, only to be picked up by an Arab dhow. In Djibouti the dhow is seized by French naval authorities and its owners, slavers, hashish dealers, pirates and murderers, are hung by the French. Dysart is accused of being an English secret service agent and spy and is given the choice of life in prison or enlisting in the French Foreign Legion.
Dysart chooses the Legion, and after training in Africa is sent to Southeast Asia, to help support the French colonial government, troops, and vassal leaders in Annam and along the Chinese border. He helps infiltrate the impregnable stronghold of an Annamese rebel leader, helps to capture that leader's lieutenant, and in general is an efficient, capable member of the Legion.
In some ways Dysart is young, almost naive, but he is a good soldier and fighter and is capable of brutality and coldness when necessary.
* I've included Sinclair Noel Brodie Dysart in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because the novels about him are fun to read. I freely admit that Legionnaire fiction is usually imperialist, colonialist, and racist in its assumptions and portrayals. But I love it despite that. The Dysart novels have high adventure in North Africa and Southeast Asia, great Legionnaire plot devices and tropes, and a suitably heroic protagonist, and are written by P.C. Wren, who popularized Legionnaire fiction (though he didn't invent it--that was Ouida, in Under Two Flags) with Beau Geste, writing at the peak of his powers. If you can get past the imperialist, colonialist, and racist garbage, the Dysart novels can be good fun.
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