Every modern author in the spotlight must brace himself to gracefully accept a savage lambasting at some point in his career. In the 19th century, however, the reigning peacocks of the intellectual world had the option to take a very literal shot back at their critics.
Faced with an insulting review and with scurrilous insinuations about his personal life, Marcel Proust took the path of honor and arranged for a duel with his verbal attacker, Jean Lorrain:
“It may be difficult to imagine Proust, with his celebrated asthma, throwing down the gauntlet at the feet of Lorrain, but that is exactly what he did. He rose to the occasion in a manner which may seem uncharacteristic of the gentle, meticulous, Hercule Poirot-like Proust many believe they know.”
Read on as Sean Charles Hall recounts the event and, in the process, challenges our perceptions of the master novelist and the figure of the dandy as a man of words and no actions. Discover this, and many other literary morsels, at Dandyism.net.