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The Point of Honor

The Point of Honor by Joseph Conrad
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Set during the Napoleonic Wars, “The Point of Honor” (English title: “The Duel”) features two French Hussar officers, D’Hubert and Feraud. Their quarrel over an initially minor incident turns into a bitter, long-drawn out struggle over the following fifteen years, interwoven with the larger conflict that provides its backdrop. At the beginning, Feraud is the one who jealously guards his honor and repeatedly demands satisfaction anew when a duelling encounter ends inconclusively; he aggressively pursues every opportunity to locate and duel his foe. As the story progresses, D’Hubert also finds himself caught up in the contest, unable to back down or walk away.

This Conrad short story evidently has its genesis in the real duels that two French Hussar officers fought in the Napoleonic era. Their names were Dupont and Fournier, which Conrad disguised slightly, changing Dupont into D’Hubert and Fournier into Feraud. In 1977, it was turned into a movie, “The Duellists”, starring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel.

First Page:

THE POINT OF HONOR

BY

A MILITARY TALE

BY

JOSEPH CONRAD

ILLUSTRATIONS BY DAN SAYRE GROESBECK

NEW YORK

THE MCCLURE COMPANY

MCMVIII

Copyright, 1908, by The McClure Company

Copyright, 1907, 1908, by Joseph Conrad

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"You will fight no more duels now" Frontispiece

"Bowing before a sylph like form reclining on a couch"

"The angry clash of arms filled that prim garden"

"You take the nearest brute, Colonel D'Hubert"

I

Napoleon the First, whose career had the quality of a duel against the whole of Europe, disliked duelling between the officers of his army. The great military emperor was not a swashbuckler, and had little respect for tradition.

Nevertheless, a story of duelling which became a legend in the army runs through the epic of imperial wars. To the surprise and admiration of their fellows, two officers, like insane artists trying to gild refined gold or paint the lily, pursued their private contest through the years of universal carnage. They were officers of cavalry, and their connection with the high spirited but fanciful animal which carries men into battle seems particularly appropriate... Continue reading book >>


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