Thursday, May 13, 2021

Top 10 books about duels

Dan Glaister's novel, A Melancholy Event, "features not one but two guns, hanging in a pair. These are guns with a purpose, for they are duelling pistols, and thereby – with apologies to Shakespeare and Jeffrey Archer – hangs a tale."

At the Guardian Glaister tagged ten top books and stories from the "grand literary tradition" involving duels, including:
Gentlemen’s Blood: A History of Duelling from Swords at Dawn to Pistols at Dusk by Barbara Holland

An entertaining breeze through a thousand years of duelling by the sparky and sardonic Holland, taking in German mensur clubs, Alexander Hamilton’s death in a duel at the hands of Aaron Burr – as seen in the musical – and the 2002 effort by the Iraqi vice president to avoid the looming conflict by challenging Bush and Cheney to duels. Holland takes duelling to be a symptom of male insecurity. “Men spring from the womb needing to prove that they’re men,” she concludes, before suggesting that a mechanism for properly organised personal vengeance might defuse some of the tensions in the world. “Perhaps,” she writes, “a return to the duel would serve a social purpose.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue