Friday, February 14, 2014

Léon Blum Fights a Duel: Video!



 An extraordinary document. The future prime minister of the Popular Front fights with rival literary critic Pierre Weber. That's Blum on the left, of course, in his black poet's hat and black tunic. A rather different image of the young Blum from the usual dandyish, languid, Proustian ephebe--a point that Pierre Birnbaum makes in his forthcoming biography of Blum, which I'm translating for Yale.

5 comments:

Mitch Guthman said...

This is really remarkable. I have a question about the duel. Do they fight to the death or are they merely scoring points? Is the third man some kind of referee/scorekeeper? What is he doing when he---it looks like---examining the hand or sword of Blum's opponent?

Art Goldhammer said...

Not just scoring points. Weber is seriously wounded later in the fight. He nearly died. The third man is one of the witnesses. There were also doctors on the scene, who attended to the wounds (Blum was also wounded on the hand). These guys were not joking.

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Art,

Thanks. Do you know what they were fighting about?

brente said...

More questions: Who took home movies in 1912? And why (especially as I imagine this may have been an illegal event)?

Art Goldhammer said...

As I understand it, this was a professional cameraman, not a home movie. There were also journalists present, I presume because the participants invited them. Yes, dueling was illegal, but no one was prosecuted as far as I know. I don't know what they were fighting about.