Discover the history of the british empire while finding solace in a world of safe spaces and feminism gone mad. When George MacDonald Fraser plucked the bully Flashman from the pages of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, he created one of literature’s greatest anti-hero in history. Thomas Hughes’s classic novel of English public school life published in 1857 was turned into the adventures of a scoundrel in a dozen rollicking novels about the misadventures of Henry Flashman. The novels purport to be instalments in a multi-volume “memoir” known collectively as the Flashman Papers, in which the hero details his prodigious exploits in battle, with the bottle, while satisfied his lusts across the victorian world.
In Fraser’s hands, the cruel, handsome Flashman is all grown up and in the army, serving in India, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Now Brigadier General Sir Harry Paget Flashman, he is a master equestrian, a pretty fair duellist and a polyglot who can flatter in a spate of foreign tongues. He is also a scoundrel, a drunk, a liar, a cheat, a braggart and a coward.
Last, but most assuredly not least, Flashman is a serial adulterer who by volume nine of the series has bedded 480 women.
Flashman’s exploits take him to some of the most epochal events of his time, from British colonial campaigns to the American Civil War, in which he magnanimously serves on both the Union and the Confederate sides. And it is this bearing on historical facts that makes Flashman more than just another pulp fiction.
Fraser was so skilled as a mock memoirs writer that he had some early readers fooled. After the first novel came out in 1969, Alden Whitman wrote in The New York Times: “So far, Flashman has had 34 reviews in the United States. Ten of these found the book to be genuine autobiography.”
The Wisdom of Flashman
“Appearances made me look like a hero;who needs more than that? Give me the shadow, and you can keep the substance. That’s a principle I’ve clung to, and it works if you know how to use it”
A major theme of the books is that people will believe whatever they want to believe, and whatever looks good, without further scrutiny. And when people see the tall, muscular, dashingly mustached Flashman in his spiffy Hussar uniform, why shouldn’t they assume he fought to the last at Piper’s Fort? And why shouldn’t they assume that he earned all of those medals? The man looks like a hero, therefore he is one.
“It is a terrible thing to have ideals, and a conscience, and pride in your profession”
The unspoken implication is that having no ideals and a conscience is likely to lead you to success, and a glance around at our betters shows that to certainly be the case.
“Small events can have massive consequences. Experience has taught me you usually don’t need a weapon, but when you do need it, it’s gonna be life and death.”
Any martial arts instructor or firearms instructor will teach you the same: should you ever need to pull a weapon, you better be ready to kill someone with it.
“Whores are whores the world over, and the Parisians were no different”
In context, it was a warning to not take the vapid pillow talk of a prostitute seriously, but those of us in the manosphere can certainly apply it to all women, not just “working girls”. Indeed, in another book Flashman says:
“Black or white, savage or duchess, women are all alike”.
“The only safe place to get drunk is amongst friends in your own home”
In general, try to recognize a situation in which you can make ass of yourself and avoid it, and specifically, don’t get drunk amongst strangers.
“Take my word for it-next time you hear ‘uneasy is the head that wears the crown’, know that royalty do damn good for themselves.”
Like it or not, quotes such as “uneasy is the head that wears the crown” or “money can’t buy happiness” are often used by poor people to make themselves feel better about their poverty. While it may be true that money itself doesn’t make you happy, it’s a hell of a lot easier to obtain happiness with money than without it.
“When the bastards are after you, run in the direction they’d never expect. Sometimes it’s right towards them”
A coward with his back to the wall is a dangerous thing indeed
“Get [women] excited-a fight is best with blood flowing, but any sport or shock will do as long as there is a hint of savagery-and they’ll get in bed with you”
As I’ve said in a previous article, the fastest way to keep a woman’s affection is to keep her on her toes, and demonstrate that you are a man of action and unpredictability.
“Have you noticed that when you convince a man of something incredible, he believes it harder than he would something obvious and simple?”
“Try as you might, you’ll never quite ‘become of’ a foreign culture”
As multiculturalism continues to lose face in the world, let’s point out that George MacDonald Fraser was pointing this out in the 1970s.
“Half the art of survival is running, the other half is keeping a straight face”
But by straight face, he doesn’t mean what you think; he then clarifies “a poker face is not always sufficient”. The thing would be properly phrased “The RIGHT face” for the situation.
“A half century may lie between cause and effect”
In other words, your past can always come back and kick you in the ass.
“The time to beware of a woman is not when you have money, because then you know what she’s after. No, the time to beware is when you don’t have money and a woman offers to give you some”.
“Once your essentials are caught in a mangle the only thing to do is ride it out and wait for them to be freed”—In other words, once you’re caught in a bad situation, just ride it out. Especially when you have a glorious reputation.
“That’s the thing about gratitude. You do a favour and often you make an enemy. Folks hate to feel obliged for something”
“There’s no surer way of getting a secret then acting like you already know it”
“When all’s said and done, the most hellish ordeal will end. Either with you dying or surviving”
And the biggest lesson of all, one that does not have a direct quote but permeates throughout the entire franchise: Most of your problems are self-inflicted. Whether it’s Flashman chasing after a shapely bit of tail and ending up in the Taiping Rebellion, or seeking to polish his fraudulent reputation a little bit more and getting browbeaten to go to the Crimea, if he just stayed still and quiet, he’d have avoided yet another situation of getting shot, stabbed, beaten, and tortured in some god-forsaken corner of the Earth. Ironically enough, he never seems to learn this lesson until he is an elderly man with great-grandchildren. Do better than him, and learn his lessons now in your relative youth.