I do not often read fiction as compared to non-fiction. However, when I do decide to read fiction I follow one rule fairly strictly. I never read works of fictions that have been published after the 1950s. This was a rule I have come to adopt after becoming conscious of the radically different portrayals of men in contemporary works as oppose to older works. Modern fiction, even if written by a man, has strongly gynocentric and generally delusional themes in their portrayals of both men and women. J.R.R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series; or, as people more commonly refer to it, The Game of Thrones, is a suitable example of this.
The female characters are for the most part unbelievable and the portrayal of their interactions with both the external world, other women, and men, is as fictitious as the genera to which Game of Thrones belongs to. Game of Thrones, however, is on the mild end of the problem in modern works. If you read any of the best sellers that appeal to women, the portrayal of men is inhuman. Men in those works are completely instrumentalized to be tools of the fantasies of women.
Worse still, the problem does not end with the gynocentric skew on the themes these books have. What is not as readily perceived are the themes that tend to be completely left out, such as non-gynocentric male struggles, male desires and dreams, brotherhood between men, honor between men, and of course, sacrifice of men for men. Such themes are all but unknown in modern writing.
To make the situation even worse, contemporary fiction is written in an effeminate manner independent of whether or not the writer is male or female. The language is simplified to the point where the need for a dictionary is incredibly rare. This however, may be a mixed and skewed interpretation. It is quite possible that the older works indeed use common language but the education level was so high, that said common language was a much broader superset of what is considered common today. However, if this is true, then the charge of effeminacy still stands and is extended to contemporary education in general.
Yet there is one more charge of effeminacy that can be laid at the foot of modern works; namely, that of shallowness of insight. When reading old works, references are made to a great deal of things about history, other literature, as well as geography, religion and politics. Though one may be reading a fictional tale, in other words, a non-academic work, the demonstration of breadth of knowledge is par excellence on the part of the author. By reading older works one not only gains the pleasure that comes from experiencing a well told story, but one can also gain an education.
Though contemporary fiction has all these problems and more, I find that works produced before the 1950s tend to avoid many of these pitfalls. Simply put, works of fiction published before the 1950s tend to showcase men positively, women realistically, and explore themes not commonly seen in later years.
One of these books is The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas. Dumas published The Three Musketeers in 1844. The plot of the book, however, takes place around 1624 in France. The book follow d’Artagnan, a 20-year-old man who is sent into the world by his father with little more than an old horse, some money, a sword, and a letter of recommendation addressed to the captain of the musketeers.
Soon after arriving in Paris, d’Artagnan meets three musketeers named Athos, Porthos and Aramis. The musketeers, of which there are a few hundred in total, serve as the elite guard for the king of France.
There is also a second faction of such elite warriors who serve as the guard for a Cardinal who was assigned by the pope to France. The plot of the book is mostly motivated by the aristocratic rivalry between the king of France and the cardinal of France. Due to this animosity between these two politically important figures, so too is there animosity between the musketeers and the cardinal’s guards.
Though this serves as the high-level backdrop for the plot of the book, the content of each chapter is another story. Each chapter usually contains a short self-contained plot that resolves itself by the end. Each of these mini plots is almost always centered around the comradery, motivations, vices, and passions of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan. In essence, this book is about men and male friendship. But of a specific type of man.
Aristotle said that there were generally 3 types of lives a man can choose. The first is a life of contemplation. This life is exemplified by philosophers and priests. The next is a life of honor. This life is exemplified by heros such as Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and so on. Finally, on the lowest level is the life of pleasure. This is the life chosen my most people; the life of the commoner who pen-ultimately values money as money can provide for him the pleasures he desires. As a side note, within Aristotle’s breakdown we also see the border between a nobleman and a commoner. Nobility are not driven by pleasure; only commoners are driven primarily by pleasure which practically means by money. This is another reason why people generally have the perception that your friends will ultimately sell you out. Commoners indeed will sell out their friends as principal is overrules by pleasure.
Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artagnan belong to the second type of life; they are men primarily motivated by honor. As these men are men of honor, their behavior will seem strange and stupid to a lot of people. Their relationship to money is also different from what you can expect from those you would encounter day to day. Money, in their hands, only ever becomes a concern or subject of interest when a specific sum is needed for some immediate purpose. It comes and goes pretty quickly. Money is an annoyance to them; a trifling hurdle that seems to be thrown between them and the specific aims they are working towards. In fact, money is so trivial to our heros that they divide it among themselves with little consideration of who had to do what to attain it. The way money is handled in this book is a manifestation of the priority of friendship.
But it does not stop here. These men dispense with risk in a similar manner. At every point, each of these men is willing to die for any of the others as a matter of principal in commitment to their friendship. The phrase that has become iconic of this book is “All for one, and one for all.” Yet this sentiment is only possible with men of honor.
When you read this book, and witness the decisions that these men make, a few things happen. In the first case, all their motivations seem very alien to the world we all live in. In the second case, we are very often tempted to consider their decisions stupid. Yet one thing is unavoidable. We grow to really like, and more importantly, trust the characters. Finally, we come to hope that more people in reality would behave based on principal.
This book is an immense pleasure to read. I do not recall the last time I laughed consistently throughout a book. Each chapter is loaded with diabolically clever dialogue which is only heightened by some of the absurdities that result from the decisions of the characters. In one of the scenes, Porthos takes offense to the conduct of some random gentleman in his immediate surroundings. What follows is a comical exchange between the two men agreeing on the terms of a duel to the death.
Both Porthos and this nameless gentleman are all but falling over themselves trying not to cause offense while deciding the time and location of the duel. Though I am paraphrasing, the exchange went something like this:
“My good sir, would noon on the morrow provide sufficient time for your affairs to be put in order? I do not wish to cause any inconvenience on my part as to your obligations.”
“Noon will suit fine. But may I beg a single concession? Would it not cause too much trouble that we select the alley behind the tavern for our rendezvous, for I desire not that you be given opportunity to brag of your death.”
“But of course, my good man, the alley will suite just fine. And if you catch cold by morrow do send a messenger with a revised schedule as a gentleman ought not be seen dueling with a stuffy nose!”
Though these two characters may be perceived to be shit talking to one another, they actually are not. The concern over not inconveniencing the other, and to keep up a proper image not tarnished by a stuffy nose were legitimate considerations of etiquette. Even in a duel to the death, the two retained a gentleman like manner fueled entirely by honor. The whole book is filled with dialogues like the one I had paraphrased. Though the dialogues in this book may be an exaggeration of what conduct between gentlemen looked like, this exaggeration provides a wonderful contrast to commoner behavior while highlighting the importance of principles in all things in life; even in the face of death.
The narration of the Three Musketeers is third person omniscient. As this is the case, the author, could describe subconscious motivations of the characters to the reader that the character is not aware of. However, Dumas does not do this. What Dumas seems to do is much more brilliant than that. Now, it is typically understood that men do not really talk about their feelings in a manner similar to women. Men tend to sit side by side instead of face to face when sharing deeply troubling thoughts. There are chapters in this book where our 4 heros do share such moments between each other. What Dumas does in these situations is to explicitly make the reader aware of the physical positioning of the characters to one another. The dialogue in those scenes also has this indirect quality about it that is meant to provide a little distance between the expression of emotion and the speaker. For example, when Athos is confessing to d’Artagnan what is haunting him, he does not do so directly. Athos first gets really drunk, then tells d’Artagnan about a friend he has that went through a certain experience. However, the reader and d’Artagnan are made aware that Athos is really talking about himself through a slip in the story where Athos speaks a sentence in the first person by accident only to continue the story as if it were about his friend. At this point, Dumas, as the third person omniscient narrator could have elaborated to the reader on the words that Athos speaks to d’Artagnan. However, he does not do this. Dumas only lets the reader know what is going on in Athos inner words through what Athos is willing to tell to d’Artagnan.
So, what we have in this scene is a perfectly male interchange. In the first case, Dumas makes clear that d’Artagnan and Athos are sitting on a bench in a tavern getting drunk on wine. This entails them sitting side by side. This is turn create this indirect physical connection between the characters. Secondly, Athos tells d’Artagnan a story about a quote unquote friend. This is another example of the indirectness of males sharing with one another. Finally, Dumas does not exercise his power as an omniscient narrator to tell the reader an expanded account of what Athos is going through. Dumas forces the reader to be in the same position as d’Artagnan; only finding out about Athos through Athos’ own words. Instead of directly telling the reader what is going on with Athos, Dumas tells the reader indirectly through Athos’ own words.
I hope you can now see what I mean about this being a book about men and male friendship? By taking this approach in his narration, Dumas positions the reader on a similar level to the other characters. This makes you, as the reader, feel like you are sorta friends with the characters as well. Since the narrator does not offer omniscient insights into the characters in such scenes, you, as a male reader, experience the scene as if you were really there. I found this incredibly brilliant on the part of Dumas. But this effect, I would suspect, would only really work on a male reader. If you read a lot of effeminate contemporary writing, you can see that 3rd person omniscient narrators are blabbering on about the deepest thoughts and secrets of their characters. It is a direct, feminine style that is not relatable to men on a deep level of how things are done between men.
Anyways, I would like to close off this review of The Three Musketeers by saying this is a fast book. Though it contains almost a thousand pages, as a man, you will fly through the chapters. You will fly through the chapters because it is a masculine book written in a masculine way, dealing with masculine reality. This book has been so lubricated for the male mind that it might as well be a slip and slide composed of pages. Though the book has some clearly gynocentric character motivations in places, those are few and far in between. The first third of the book only mentions 1 woman once. For a while there I thought that this book would not contain a single female character. It does though. And they are exactly what MGTOW describe women to be. The only down side in my opinion are some of the pussy begging tendencies of d’Artagnan. Other than that, this is a great read.
But for now, thanks for listening.