The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: The Burmese Swordsman.

Burmese Swordsman. The Burmese Swordsman was created by Zayya and appeared in the Burmese novel Mya Lay Shwe Dar Bo (1920). The Burmese Swordsman is a Costumed Avenger modeled on the Scarlet Pimpernel. The Burmese Swordsman is active in Yangon (Rangoon) in the present day.

Zayya (1900-1982) was one of the first Burmese novelists to write in plain prose, free of religious material. It is interesting–to me, at least–that one of his early choices for what to write about was a Burmese version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. It shows the reach of Baroness Orczy’s work (the Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the 20th century’s first superheroes, though by no means the first superhero–the superhero is a product of the 19th century, not the 20th)–The Scarlet Pimpernel, translated around the world, struck a chord with audiences who you might not think would respond to a tale like The Scarlet Pimpernel. (Or perhaps it’s not so strange, at that–The Scarlet Pimpernel is a rebel against an oppressive government, an idea that many oppressed peoples, and writers of those oppressed peoples, responded to; The Scarlet Pimpernel was translated into a number of colonial languages and reinterpreted by colonial subjects for their own uses). And, well, the concept, of a pulp-era Burmese Scarlet Pimpernel, rescuing Burmese prisoners from British colonial authorities, is a pretty neat one, I think.

No cover image of Mya Lay Shwe Dar Boalas, or even image of Zayya. Google fails us on this occasion, as do Western-language scholarly materials on Burmese popular culture and popular literature more generally.

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