What is a man?

Andre Malraux was a French author who lived and died in the 20th century. He has many books and other things to his name and if I knew anything about him beyond what it says on his Wikipedia page you can be sure you’d be damned impressed.

Gamers know him from a line from Symphony of the Night:“What is man? A miserable little pile of secrets.” Or they know him because they’re European and have actually been educated.

This quote is mocked daily on game forums. It doesn’t suddenly become better or worse because someone famous wrote it, but gamers should realize that it wasn’t written by Konami’s localization team.

Do people already know this? Is it an elaborate “Malraux is an overrated writer and his work translated into English is laughable” movement amongst gamers? Here is a tip that will aid everyone who is interesting in making fun of things – google it first. At least have an idea of what it is you’re mocking.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
16 years ago

I don’t even think the localization teams know that, as if I heard correctly, the line is not in the PSP Dracula X compilation.

16 years ago

It seems unfair that a game with such otherwise silly dialog was actually making a literary reference. Though perhaps this is a hint about series cannon. Which incarnation of Dracula would have been alive to read Malraux’s work and travel back in time to mock Richter? Hmmm…

More seriously, though, this makes me worried that other weird dialog in games is just plagiarized from somewhere else. Maybe all those times I sniggered at Barry when he talked about “the master of unlocking” or “a Jill sandwich” were uncalled for, and it was all a stimulating allusion to the work of some moderately famous dead guy. The crazy crap in Kojima games is even more suspect. “Choose life, then live” definitely SOUNDS like it was lifted from somewhere.


[…] put much thought into my qualifications – I had a keyboard, a poorly reasoned and loud opinion, and an internet. All the pieces were there for insightful critique, as far as I could tell. The […]