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The Eighteenth Century Duel Evolution and Ethics Throughout time the image of the duel has transcended into our collective consciousness so that there is hardly a person today who does not understand what the word means even though there are practically no modern day duels Anyone asked to define the word would be able to conjure up the image of two men standing face to face for the purpose of settling a dispute and very likely leaving one of the men dead The portrait of the duel has remained a constant in literature through centuries and even in the modern day can be found in the mediums of television and cinema These fictional duels are usually pretty clear cut with good and evil coming together for a final face off where ideally the just side will prevail The myth of the duel is not consistent with the reality of the duel as seen through facts of history and of literature of the time period While the literature of the time period sensationalized the duel to some degree it is partially through literature that it is possible to examine aspects of dueling the ethics behind the encounters public opinion and unspoken rules As VG Kiernam states in his book The Duel in European History What has been remembered of the duel has been mostly of an anecdotal kind It may be surmised that a good many of the countless stories connected with it lost nothing in the telling and retelling some have a decidedly novelistic flavor 7 The reality of the duel is that it was not a clear cut event but rather an ambiguous one with many rules and regulations and open only to certain sections of society The purpose for a duel was not as justifiable as it is for the duels fictional counter part historical duels have been fought for any number of reasons some being
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