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petkusj

petkusj

Currently reading

P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters
P.G. Wodehouse, Sophie Ratcliffe
Roadrage
M.J. Johnson
Our Mutual Friend
Charles Dickens
Rosings
Karen Aminadra
Sherlock Holmes: The Unauthorized Biography
Nick Rennison

Gentlemen's Blood: A Thousand Years of Sword and Pistol

Gentleman's Blood:  a History of Dueling From Swords at Dawn to Pistols at Dusk - Barbara Holland Somewhat after the fact, I’m reading Barbara Holland’s Gentlemen’s Blood: A History of Dueling from Swords at Dawn to Pistols at Dusk, published in 2004. I should have read it before writing The Affair of the Code Duello, but fortunately I didn’t seem to have committed any major faux pas.The book is quite entertaining, with Holland’s snarky style that never lets you guess whether she admires or despises the insanity of two men leveling guns at twelve paces. She gives wonderful examples of famous duels: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr; silly duels: two Frenchmen firing at one another from hot-air balloons (hint: shoot the balloon); bloodless duels: the French clung to dueling, especially with swords, as more performance art; literary duels: Alexander Pushkin, whose Eugene Onegin features a duel and he himself dies in a duel, and Mark Twain, spared a duel by a quick thinking second.Naturally I thought of the often overlooked duel in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. And then I racked my brain trying to think of a Sherlock Holmes duel, feeling stupid when I realized that the final confrontation at Reichenbach Falls was a duel, but without any of the trappings. How interesting that these two men of intellect chose such a visceral way of settling their differences. No pistols at twelve paces or the cut and thrust of an epee, but hand-to-hand grappling without the back and forth of seconds and challenges and a surgeon to attend to their wounds.