The Classics Are Shit

April 18, 2020

You are probably aware of Hans Christian Anderson‘s famous story The Emperor’s New Clothes. Two weavers promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new “clothes”, no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid. Finally a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”


Fake News parallels obvious

To me, that describes most of the classics I’ve read. I don’t speak from lack of effort. In the last few years I’ve read plenty, being quite enthused especially by the Wordsworth Classics editions. A quick consultation of my reading log shows I’ve plowed through Ben Hur, The Master & Margarita, War And Peace [1], The Arabian Nights, A Tale Of Two Cities, The Story Of A Nobody, The Gambler, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Wuthering Heights, Ivanhoe, plus an ungodly amount of Dumas. I’ve also managed some other classics prior to that. Of those, only the Dumas books and Ivanhoe stood on their own merits as a good read [2]. The rest were all….. a slog.

Every single one of them was painfully over-written. It felt like the writers were poseurs attempting to impress their peers with the wordsmanship of their prose, rather than constructing good books. Almost to a man, the authors I tried were unable to plot effectively, create compelling believable characters, and – most saliently – unable to pace the book so that I wanted to keep reading it. They were not page-turners. I had no desire to see how the characters overcame the obstacles set [3]. I finished the books only because I felt like I should.

But surely you learned something about the human condition, Nick?

Not really. The classics are full of hokey philosophy, poor theology, and mad ramblings. Russian writers are just miserable nihilists wallowing in squalor. The Arabs are sick savages praising the dumbest, cruellest of kings as wise philanthropists. The French are…. well, French [4]. I think it’s not an overstatement to say the weighty issues and observations on the human condition contained within potboiler genre fiction are absolutely the equal- if not better observed- than those in the classics. I found myself stopping to consider ideas in Stephen Marlowe’s Chester Drum series or Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm books more often than in Dostoevsky, Hugo, or Dickens.

Gamma cunts. I’m calling it, now.

But isn’t this all subjective, Nick? you cry, unwilling to call the emperor’s clothes what they are. Let’s consider that. There are objective criteria to good story writing [5]. For a start, if you’re writing drama you need intention plus obstacle. If you’re setting a scene, you need to turn exposition into ammunition. If something isn’t helping the story, or, worse, is noise obscuring the signal, then it should be excised. With that in mind, let’s consider a random chapter selection from Ben Hur.

“You are about to read one of the finest novels ever written,” the first lines of the Signet Classics introduction assured me. Well, let’s put that to the test shall we. Here it is unedited [6] for Chapter Two of Book Five. The hero is going to meet a young tart he fancies who is the daughter of a crippled trader.

Ben Hur 1 - shit versionBen Hur 2 - shit versionBen Hur 3 - shit versionBen Hur 4 - shit version

That was turgid, was it not? Now let’s consider the vastly-improved Krauser Edition:

Ben Hur 1 - Krauser edit

Ben Hur 2 - Krauser edit

Ben Hur 3 - Krauser edit

Ben Hur 4 - Krauser edit

Notice how my deletions don’t remove a single line of value. Absolutely everything I removed was pointless blather that bogged down the plot and made the main character look like a right fucking faggot. All that immersion-breaking purple prose is gone, leaving only the stuff that actually happens. Mind you, what remains is still total shite. It’s an unsaveable book. There’s 150 pages of story wrapped up in 450 pages of fluff and, when you finally unpick it all, you find out that Lew Wallace has just cobbled together a revenge story of the same structure and themes as The Count Of Monte Cristo, except that Dumas beat him to the punch by thirty years and did it miles better. Dumas’ book is actually really good and races along as a proper page-turner.

Ben Hur – Finest novel my arse. It’s a bag of shite.

Let me tenuously connect this rant to the subject of daygame. When browsing Jimmy’s Twitter account I saw him laughing at a link to manosphere name Donovan Sharpe. The guy was bragging about how a “man on a mission” lives out his day. Take a look at the photo he posted.

Super Patriarch

Like a homeless dude giving investment advice


He might want to change his testosterone provider because that shirtless photo just looks like a fat slob to me. And, frankly, I would not be bragging about shacking up with a fat lass. If photos like that of me surfaced on the internet, I’d get emergency injunctions to get them removed lest my reputation be forever tarnished [7]

The lesson of the Emperor’s New Clothes, as delivered by the impulsive kid at the end of the story, is to see things as they really are rather than how you’ve been carefully gas-lighted to think you should see them. Gas-lighting can only work when it appeals to our worst emotions, such as Pride in Andersen’s tale. When something (e.g. a classic) or somebody (e.g. a well-known PUA coach) is established as something to be taken seriously you should always first ask yourself: why? What has he / it done to deserve this position? When you’re new to an arena, say just getting into pick-up, it’s natural to not know up from down and to therefore look to the mob to tell you who to follow. That’s what all these poseurs with Twitter accounts, YouTube channels, and podcasts [8] are banking on. They are banking on your natural reticence to stand up, point at the emperor, and say “he’s not wearing any clothes.”

Pretend you never read any of that and just buy Daygame Mastery here, the best instructional textbook in the history of pick-up unless you are too stupid, incompetent or unfit for your position as a daygamer

[1] Gave up halfway through. It’s so boring.
[2] And, unless you specifically like Dumas’ style, only his most famous works are good. Once you drop down to his second-tier efforts, there’s a plunge in quality.
[3] Which is, quite literally, the essence of drama.
[4] Snobbish, cowardly fags obsessed with cheese and wine.
[5] Anyone banging on about “what is objectivity? everything is subjective” or setting a straw man comparison to peer-reviewed mathematical proofs can fuck off right now. We are not in a uni student bar.
[6] And, fuck me, if ever a book needed editing it is this one.
[7] More than it already is, that is to say.
[8] Rarely blogs, as charlatans tend not to be very literary unless they are Jewish.


  1. Of your list of classics I’ve only read two – The Count of Monte Cristo and War and Peace.
    My opinion is the opposite of yours. I thought The Count of Monte Cristo was really boring (I trudged through to the end) but I loved War and Peace.
    War and Peace of course has flaws (the philosophy chapters are terrible) but I felt very strongly for the characters as they developed throughout the novel and was fully drawn in to the story.
    The Count of Monte Cristo on the other hand had 2D characters I cared nothing for and endlessly breaks the “show, don’t tell” rule of story telling.
    Also, I think 5:45pm pic of the girl looks quite attractive.

    I agree the Ben Hur chapter is close to unreadable. I would definitely ditch that book.
    I recently ditched The Stand by Stephen King around a quarter of the way through. It has rave reviews but I hated it. It is the first Stephen King book I’ve attempted to read and will not be trying any more. [King is an atrociously bad writer and it really shows in anything published / re-issued since he got famous and was able to negotiate a contract that prevented publisher from editing him. I think he’s “very much into Star Trek”, to use a euphemism. I read the first three volumes of The Dark Tower before giving up in disgust. He’s totally inept and has a sick, evil mind. As for Tolstoy, I think he has beautiful prose and manages a vast sweep of history, but the book is interminably boring. There’s no intention-plus-obstacle. Things just happen and characters are agent-free ciphers. K.]

  2. Old novels were the TV of their day, “classic” can be based more on popularity/fashion than merit.

  3. Why do you think that certain ‘classics’ are picked out as being brilliant pieces of literature and others not so? Is there some reason behind it? Do these literature taste makers deliberately raise something up because its impenetrable to most other people and they can form a little club attending each others cocktail parties?

    I have struggled with various classic literature, art, music in the past so can appreciate your view. Some of it is just pap. I know what a literature academic type would say though from past conversations. They respond that those who don’t get it are not able to appreciate nuance and subtely and suggest that they are corrupted by modern media especially TV series and film. Im not sure what your view would be on this?

    I recently picked up ‘Moby Dick’ on recommendation. I read it was the greatest American novel ever written. I am struggling with it only getting through about a centimetre in about 3 weeks. Anyone read it who can tell me if I should trash it now or persevere?

    Ps Dumas main novels are brilliant (and where I coined my moniker). I believe Count of Monte Cristo actually was the pulp fiction of its day and not written as a serious piece of ground breaking literature. I understand it was first created in short sections in some French newspaper, which helped it to stay snappy and intentionally keep the reader wanting more in order to buy the next instalment of the newspaper.

    • I read Moby Dick last year and was surprised that Krauser did not mentioned it. It is an incredibly hard chore to read it with tons of irrelevant whale hunting industry information, as is War and Peace with its incredibly slow glacial pace. About other huge books I quite liked Crime and Punishment, and loved Atlas Shrugged, while Cervantes Don Quijote gets repetitive and boring for a while.

    • When Moby Dick was published it was a flop. I took decades to get some recognition. What counts is the essence: A man consumed by hate and revenge to a thing, an animal.
      Dont be Captain Ahab.

  4. Monte Cristo was ok, but the three musketeers series was impossibly wordy. Definitely had some comic moments, and good adventure also. Loved how he depicted the semaphore/police system of his day. Dickens was impossibly wordy, but he did it in such a way that it was funny, like hipster irony. Ivanhoe was ok but felt workman-like.

    How about Daniel Defoe? I thought his prose went pretty well.

    Moby Dick? The author idolized and tried to imitate Hawthorne. Hawthorne was a traitor to the Puritan cause and it is due to him that “Puritan” is now a curse instead of a blessing in America. Black wizardry indeed. From the anti-Puritanism of Hawthorne the sulphur of hell lead to the outright faggotry of Melville and his “great American novel” Moby Dick. If you grew up with Churchianity indoctrination, novels like Anna Karenina resonate. Look to an era’s disfunctions, and its “great literature” will make a lot more sense.

    Pirates of Penzeance, HMS Pinafore… good comedy seems to last better than “great literature” since it is so tied to time and place… and the disfunctions thereof.

    Think of this also. Authors were paid by the word, so incentivized to write like lawyers. In Fact, Pickens and the author of Ivanhoe were lawyers.

    Daniel Defoe on the other hand was a spy, directly responsible for quite a large genocide in Scotland.

    Roald Dahl was another spy… his books are pretty good.

    If you find really good writing, almost always it is the spooks behind it.

    From Rome, if you look at what has survived, almost all spooks or handlers of spooks.

    Manon Lescouts (or however it is spelled) is a good short story, detailing the doomed love and downfall of monsiegneur de grieux (or however you spell it) the succeeding operas and summaries don’t really do it justice, but it is definitely a depiction of the great disfunctions of the time in France, the involvement of the French military in crime, etc.

  5. And, unless you specifically like Dumas’ style, only his most famous works are good. Once you drop down to his second-tier efforts, there’s a plunge in quality.

    after Dumas pere had achieved success and weatlh, his practice was to pay a roomful of writers to bang out manuscripts according to his approval and / or plot outline to which he would then attach his name.

    therefore, it is likely that most of the “2nd tier efforts” which displease you weren’t really written by Dumas at all.

  6. I’ve never heard Ben Hur described as a classic (except in relation to the film). Popular maybe. It isn’t as though Lew Wallace is held up with Faulkner and Hemingway as one of the great American writers. It definitely isn’t going to be on any Great Books list.
    A Tale of Two Cities, Wuthering Heights and Hunchback of Notre Dame were all solid but, especially with Hunchback, you have to get past the rambling asides and at times excessively descriptive language. I wouldn’t be quick to conclude the fault is with the 19th century books rather than overstimulated, dopamine addled 21st century brains.

  7. Off the top of your head: which “classics” are worth reading? [Many are a good read if you treat them as study, or to satisfy curiosity, rather than entertainment. For pure entertainment, 20th century novels are far better. K.]

  8. I think the books you’ve mentioned are indeed among the most boring of classics (besides The Master and Margarita which I remember to have personally enjoyed). The Gambler is likely the worst book by Dostoevskji. I’ve read his main ones (Karamazov, Crime&punishment, The Idiot) and they were all pretty good. Among the classics I absolutely recommend Joseph Conrad, if you haven’t read him yet, Also Cervantes (Don Chishotte) is very good; he may teach lessons on pace and rythm to a lot of writer come out centuries after him

  9. You invite criticism if you hold yourself out as an exemplar male. For example, Ed Latimore brags about 13-1-1 boxing record. But closer scrutiny shows he fought Willis Lockett twice. Lockett was literally living in a homeless shelter. The only thing worse than beating a homeless man is failing to beat a homeless man; they drew the last fight. Ed Latimore has no wins against a boxer with a winning record. It’s a brutal sport, where people rise until they can’t win anymore, and then drop out. Money, women, fitness, freedom, family. You can’t have it all.

  10. The bible, especially old testament, is THE classic. The men who wrote this tales knew the nature of men and women. The ways of the world. Red Pill as fuck.

    • This is a fascinating comment. Any particular parts of the Old Testament? The Red Pill keeps leading me back to the Bible.

      • The whole thing, Jim. It is maximally Red Pill. Churchianity has put a lot of blinders onto people, but when you read it with fresh eyes, it is pretty clear. Start on page 1, go from there.

    • The Old Testament is lit. Probably proof that the classics aren’t always page turners. You do need to actually study it rather than read it like a novel, and have to realise at the start that the characters in it are all massively flawed and in many cases detestable.

      The Wisdom of Sirach is redpilled as f*ck in some parts:

      23:10-12 – “Keep strong watch over a headstrong daughter, lest she find some liberty and make the most of it; be on guard against her shameless eye, and do not be amazed if she trespasses against you. Her mouth will open like a thirsty traveler’s and drink from any water nearby. She will sit down before every tent peg and open her quiver to every arrow.”

  11. Aesop is awesome, though.

  12. Pingback: Linkage: 25 April, 2020 – Wuhan Weekend 1984 Hoax Updates, The Website Malfunction Edition. #CLSology #WuhanHoax #Wuhan1984 – Cynical Libertarian Society

  13. I note that a lot of those books mentioned are translations from another language, which probably adds another layer of complexity. For writers like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, it would be interesting to know how they would be taken by a reasonably well-educated Russian in the 19th century. I don’t know much about the translation process, but it seems like an art in itself, trying not only to render an accurate translation, but also attempting to preserve the original sense and flow of the prose. There also appears to be a tradeoff between making an accurate word-for-word translation and taking liberties that make the text more readable for the target language audience. I’ve been reading Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ recently in a ‘highly-acclaimed’ translation, and it is actually quite enjoyable, despite the difficult subject matter.

    I have a bilingual Spanish-speaking friend, who used to rave to me about the books ‘100 Years of Solitude’ and ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’. I never really got how they were so highly-acclaimed, although he would always explain that he read them in the original Spanish, and never really liked the English translations for some reason. I can see the same thing with Ancient Greek texts like the Iliad, which were originally written to be recited as poetry and had a distinctive rhythm. It’s still a good story, but sounds a bit a children’s book reading it in modern English. Having studied Ancient Greek, I can also pick out why they’ve used certain words or phrases to translate passages, which sound a little awkward to a 21st century English speaker.

    As for the turgid, aimless prose of some ‘classics’, I’m left wondering if maybe people at the time in which they were writing simply had better attention spans? Or maybe people couldn’t afford many books, and were happy to luxuriate over each one and only read a handful every year, instead of trying to knock over 200+? I find it hard to take a side here. I remember reading Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ and finding it to be an enjoyable ‘page-turner’, but it is an indisputably and objectively shit book and the world would be a better place if it were never published. [I’ve noticed huge differences in my enjoyment of Dumas depending on the translation. I tried three different versions of Joseph Balsamo. Two were shit. K.]

  14. As some others have pointed, many of the classics by Dickens, Dumas etc. first appeared in serialised format in newspapers. The authors were literally paid by the word and were incentivised to stretch things out as much as possible.

  15. Hey K, I noticed the sales pages of all your video products have been removed.

    Are they no longer for sale or are you just doing some site maintainance ? [It’s back up now. Was transfer to newer version of platform. Post coming. K.]

  16. Krauser. Would you be so kind as to talk about the two new books you re planning in the upcoming 12 months? My vote goes to another advanced book and an up-to-date Nitro. Thnx. [Final memoir volume and new textbook. Both parked for now, due to lack of motivation. K.]

    • Yes, I agree. A long time ago you mentioned your contemplating the idea of updating Daygame Nitro, and I wonder if that’s still on the cards or not.

  17. Hi Nick. Regarding Ben-Hur, it was written by a freemason, is written from a jewish perspective and is about some jew-related topic. No wonder it is unjustly praised. [The smell of Jew tricks permeates the book. K.]

  18. I’d just like to thank you for your full talk thats currently up Nick.

  19. Have you read Bronze Age Mindset? Was very popular in certain circles, curious what you would make of it.

  20. I’m not going to argue the point that some books widely regarded as classics are not all they’re cracked up to be. However, yours is a utilitarian approach to reading and interpreting fiction which strikes me as being a bit narrow. As an example, I saw some guy above mention Moby-DIck and how it’s full of meaningless whale stuff. He’s right, and that’s exactly the point. Melville threw everything he knew about whales and the sea into that book. There are lengthy discussions of whale anatomy, seamanship, shipbuilding, savage customs, cetology quotes and trivia, and a million other things. There is a plot of course but the point of the book is not just to tell you about chasing Moby-Dick and moving the story from point A to B to C. Melville wants to totally to immerse you in a particular world. The aim is aesthetic as much as narrative. The same could be said for War and Peace, or Paradise Lost, or Bleak House, or Blood Meridian. This sort of book is not to everyone’s taste of course but for people who see value in prose as an end in and of itself and not just as a means to an end, there’s a lot of value there. Some might call it self-indulgent, and in many ways it is, but I don’t see anything wrong with that since indulging the self gives pleasure. Getting lost in a great writer’s world as expressed through an inimitable style can be just as intoxicating as listening to your favorite music or staring at art or architecture for hours on end without caring about where it is taking you or what you are getting out of it.

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