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Reading about “Man’s Man” in Literature

By Joseph Timmons

Outside classic Noir Pulp Fiction with the hard case detective types, finding images of the strong male figure in literature is somewhat difficult. The character with the hard edge, knowing right from wrong and acting on his own ideals gets lost in translation and some become over sensitive, “Namby-Pamby” sissy men that swoon when a woman gives that any sort of recognition or credit for a job well done. I have done my fair share of reading and criticizing all sorts of literary works and have come to a conclusion: the classics can give you more of a testosterone boost than some of the modern “hits” in the book world.  No teenage heartthrob blood-sucker can hold a candle to the books characters I will expound on, and the books I will list are “required” reading if you plan on being the kind of man that wants to be respected.

Ian Fleming’s characterization of the perfect spy and gentleman in James Bond would become the ideal mysterious persona that many men would aspire to become. Since the first book in Ian Fleming’s arsenal of big guns Casino Royale, published in 1953- James Bond would be the romantic hero (and sometimes cad about town) that boys would stand in front of mirrors with their father’s suit coats and imitate the phrases like “Hello Miss Moneypenny” or “Shaken-Not Stirred”. It’s no wonder that Sean Connery’s talents, at the wheel of this “Austin Martin” of lifetime roles, made the literary works come to life on the big screen twice as hot.

Ernest Hemingway, a notorious figure in real life, would transpose himself onto the pages of history. He Saw in his life things that some would only dream of, or have nightmares about. As a war correspondent, he saw the horrors of war and as a world traveler, he saw the secret beauty of the places and people he connected with. “The Old Man and The Sea” is a classic tale of a man fighting his greatest enemy -  himself, -  and “A Farewell to Arms” is also the work of genius that inspires.

For many years now, “Les Miserables” is touted for being a great musical, but have you READ THE STORY?  In that period of time,France is in the setting for many depictions of tragedy. Jean Valjean, a simple man of less than perfect past, is given a second chance by a servant of god. He takes that chance to turn himself around into a person to be respected, and time after time in the story he re-invents himself to try evading his past and an obsessive officer of the law, who, noble in conviction, is the bane of the actual hero’s existence. Read it ASAP, this is the story of a man who takes life’s moments seriously and does his best to be just, fair, and ethical.

My final pick is a bit whimsical: Shakespeare’s “The Taming of The Shrew”. It is a tale of a man boisterous and loud, who takes a wife just as loud and wild. The characters do their best to break each other down, but instead find humility in each other’s arms. In the end a woman who nobody can stand, becomes a wife of loving respect and admiration and a Fool of a Lout Becomes a Husband who respects his bride. A funny love story that shows the reader that respect is the first and best quality in a man’s character when it comes to women.

Being well versed in Fine Literature is the mark of a well rounded man. Knowing the classics, as well as the modern literary works is an admirable way to build up your lexicon of topics for conversation at work or parties.

Finding works and topical material that can help influence your way of thinking and add substance to  your thoughts brings us back to the age of elegance that is missed in today’s “Man’s World”. Intellectual diversity  is important and is something all of us should have.


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