Willian Buchanan - Dr Syn book

 

 

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This is I think the 2nd rarest of the Syn books behind Scarecrow Rides. This is a scan copy from Barry Marsh , who was a good friend of Will Ray Buck , until his death in 1995. I didnt think this book existed until I got this scan from Barry. Many thanks !

New Review by Matthew Baugh

This is a very enjoyable re-working of THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF DR. SYN
with certain key characters and elements changed. Squire Tony Cobtree and
his daughters are not to be found here. Instead the author has created a
Squire Banks by combining Tony with the pompous and overweight Lord of
Lympne. Jenny Banks is the squire's lovely daughter who loves both Dr. Syn
and the Scarecrow but never suspects they are the same man. She has a
masked identity of her own and as Curlew rides as one of the Scarecrow's
most trusted assistants.

The adventures here are mostly familiar to readers of the original book.
The new elements are the developing love story between syn and Jenny and the
rousing (though improbable) conclusion in which the Scarecrow races to
prevent destruction of the seawall by a General obsessed with his capture.
Unlike the books by Ruessell Thorndyke, this one ends happily. The villain
dies, Dr. Syn and Jenny live happily ever after, and the Scarecrow is seen
no more, passing into the legends of the Marsh.

The other interesting thing about the book is that this, rather than the
Thorndike stories, appears to be the obvious source for the Disney movie DR.
SYN, ALIAS THE SCARECREW. Many of the characters and situations original to
this book also appear in the movie, though Disney chose to add touches of
their own, including an entirely new conclusion.

NEW REVIEW BY JON OLDER

CHRISTOPHER SYN – A Review by Jon Older

As collectors of Dr.Syn novels will know, next to “The Scarecrow Rides” by Russell Thorndike, “Christopher Syn” is one of the rarest of titles. It’s taken me the best part of 25 years to acquire a copy. One can probably attribute this to a small print run in the first instance and indeed most copies that come up for sale today seem to be ex-library editions (the Houston Community Library in my case). The novel, as issued in hardcover by New York publishers Abelard & Schuman in 1960 in an original dustjacket design by Harry Horner, is credited as being “by Russell Thorndike and William Buchanan.” Thorndike in fact had nothing to do with the writing of “Christopher Syn” but the text is largely based on Thorndike’s previously published 1936 novel “The Further Adventures of Dr.Syn”, and was itself the basis for the 3-part 1963 Walt Disney TV series “Dr.Syn-Alias The Scarecrow” starring Patrick McGoohan in the title role, which was re-edited and released in the UK as a feature film. (Disney also purchased the television rights to all the Thorndike characters in perpetuity to protect themselves; I know this because I tried to buy them myself about 10 years ago!) In spirit Buchanan’s book is very close to the Disney version, especially in its treatment of the Dr.Syn character.

The text itself is something of a disappointment, beginning as it does with a largely irrelevant introduction by the late actor James Mason. Buchanan’s writing is engaging enough and he does manage to capture elements of Thorndike’s style, but it is hard to see why Buchanan chose to simply re-write one of Thorndike’s previous books rather than contributing a wholly original story to the cannon. Certain characters are retained from the series – Mipps and Mrs.Waggets for example – and are reasonably consistent with Thorndike’s originals, while others are omitted and/or replaced by needless cyphers. Thorndike’s Anthony Cobtree, Squire of Dymchurch and highwayman Jimmy Bone are both sorely missed and their absence becomes more irritating as the book progresses as the process seems wholly arbitrary and adds nothing significant to the concept. The structure of the book is also very incidental (a charge which can equally be levelled at a couple of the Thorndike books) with a series of disparate adventures taking place one after the other rather than unfolding along a strong narrative plotline, which Thorndike does manage very successfully with “Dr.Syn on the High Seas”(1936) and “The Amazing Quest of Dr.Syn” (1938)
What is seriously lacking from Buchanan’s book is the darkness of the Christopher Syn character that Thorndike explores in his novels. Almost nobody gets hurt in this book (which is presumably what Disney liked about it). Compare the treatment of the same scene in both books, where Syn decides to make an example of a traitor by hanging him tied to a chair in front of the townspeople of Dymchurch. In Thorndike’s version the villain Hugh Brazlett is dispatched without compunction by The Scarecrow, but in Buchanan’s novel the victim (unaccountably the schoolmaster Mr.Rash) is let off by a sleight of hand trick with the knot – as portrayed in the Disney film version. With the following exchange, Buchanan completely glosses over the good doctor’s infamous past as the terrible pirate Captain Clegg, making him seem like a weekend sailor conducting pleasure cruises around the Caribbean:
“I look at you, my old master carpenter” continued the vicar “always remembering the days when you and I stood together a thousand times, and I’m grateful”
“Referrin’ to the days when we sailed the seven seas. Eh,Vicar?” And that’s it! It’s a serious flaw in the characterisation. Whereas Thorndike’s Clegg is a vital, but deadly figure, capable of and dealing out death to his enemies, and marooning his foes at the drop of a (three-cornered) hat, Buchanan’s version of the vicar is much more one-dimensional and far less dangerous – definitely not the dashing, darkly romantic anti-hero of the source books. On the plus side, considering that Buchanan was born in Illinois in the Midwestern USA and had never visited Romney Marsh, Kent or Dymchurch at the time of writing, he does manage to evoke the fictional landscape of the Dr.Syn books very well, and his characters never seem out of place within it. In many ways, the disappointments of the book are akin to reading the 7 Thorndike novels in narrative order and coming upon the final book “Dr.Syn” last – which, being the first one written in 1915, seems to suddenly jettison many of the on-going characters introduced in the subsequent books. Indeed, for my money, “Dr.Syn” is the least enjoyable of Thorndike’s novels for that reason.

Whatever the merits of Buchanan’s novel within the Dr.Syn series, it remains a highly collectible book, with a current (2002) value at auction of anywhere from $150-$200, with or without the DJ. It is a pleasant enough trip through almost familiar territory and if you ever get the chance to pick one up don’t let it pass you by. It could be a long time before you ever see another one!

 

 

 

 Here is the USA refernce Library tag and details which prove it does exist, I just need  to get a copy now. !


Database Name: Library of Congress Online Catalog
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Christopher Syn, by Russell Thorndike and William Buchanan [pseud.] With...

 

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LC Control Number:

60007504

Type of Material:

Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)

Brief Description:

Thorndike, Arthur Russell, 1885-
Christopher Syn, by Russell Thorndike and William Buchanan [pseud.] With an introd. by James Mason.
New York, Abelard Schuman [1960]
254 p. 21 cm.



CALL NUMBER:

PZ3.T3934 Ch
Copy 1

-- Request in:

Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms

-- Status:

Not Charged