The Evariste Galois Archive

'Tout voir, tout entendre,  ne perdre aucune idée', Evariste 
    Galois, 29/Oct/1831

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The Duel

The duel and the events leading to it are blurred by time and the phantasies of novelists and what's worse biographers. We can rule out or at least it is highly improbable that the duel was a plot of the royalists to murder him. Though this version is a favorite legend lingering in many biographies. Most probably it was Galois himself who incited this interpretation. He wanted himself to appear as a victim of the government, which should enrage the masses to revolt. He dropped remarks pointing in this direction: At a meeting of the Friends of the People and in his last letters. The most likely reason is: He was weary of life, because of his unhappy love affair, his fruitless efforts for gaining recognition for his mathematical work, his financial and work situation and he felt finished up a blind alley in politics as well. So his duel was like a staged suicide. It is still not clear who the other dueller a supposed political friend was. One thing is clear, though it kills a favorite legend: He didn't lay down his mathematical theory in the night befor the duel. He pointed out the cornerstones of his scientific life in a long letter to his friend Chevalier, so that everything might be properly evaluated and not be lost.



Written by Bernard Bychan; Last Modified: July 10, 2011


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