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Geste, Beau. Beau Geste was created by P.C. Wren (Otho Bellême, Dirty Dogs’ Club, Sinclair Noel Brodie Dysart, Major Hazelrigg, McSnortt, Sudden Death Lodge, Minna von Voehniger) and appeared in five novels and short story collections from 1924 to 1935, beginning with Beau Geste.
Beau Geste is a Legionnaire. Michael, Digby, and John Geste are three brothers who are orphaned as children. They are raised by their aunt in an upper class atmosphere. But the family’s valuable Blue Water sapphire disappears, and each of the three brothers confesses to having stolen it in order to protect the others. They leave England separately and enlist in the French Foreign Legion, where they are reunited at Fort Zinderneuf under the command of the malign Sergeant Lejaune. Lejaune wants the Blue Water and is willing to do anything to the Geste brothers to gain possession of it. When the Tuaregs attack, Lejaune, Digby and Michael and killed, and John, nicknamed “Beau,” is the only survivor. The other novels describe his adventures in the Legion and those of his friends.
* I'm including the Beau Geste novels and stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because they are enjoyable and fun and because they are, for what they are, fairly well-written. The Legionnaire genre of novels is in some respect unforgivable because of its racism and full-throated defense of imperialism and colonialism. It's not a clean genre (not that there are any or ever were any), and anyone who enjoys the genre has to grapple with the bad and evil ideologies that are the fabric of the genre. I love the genre nonetheless. (No doubt a character flaw in myself). Beau Geste is the archetypal French Foreign Legion novel, the one that the vast majority of later Legionnaire novels and movies modeled themselves on. Wren was a skilled professional writer who knew how to make compelling two-dimensional characters and compelling adventures. The Beau Geste stories and novels, while morally reprehensible, are enjoyable reads.
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