Clément Duval

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Clément Duval

Clément Duval (French pronunciation: ​[klemɑ̃ dyval]; 1850 – 1935) was a famous French anarchist and criminal. His ideas concerning individual reclamation were greatly influential in later shaping illegalism. According to Paul Albert, "The story of Clement Duval was lifted and, shorn of all politics, turned into the bestseller Papillon."[1]

Biography[edit]

Duval served as a member of the fifth infantry battalion in the Franco-Prussian War, where he was wounded by a mortar and contracted smallpox. As a result, he spent four of the next 10 years in a hospital. Unable to work, Duval turned to theft.

Subsequent to his spending a year in prison for the theft of 80 francs, Duval joined the anarchists of The Panther of Batignolles.

On 25 October 1886, Duval broke into the mansion of a Parisian socialite and stole 15,000 francs before accidentally setting the house on fire. He was caught only two weeks later after trying to fence the stolen goods, stabbing a policeman named Rossignol several times during his arrest. (The policeman survived his wounds.) Duval's trial drew crowds of supporters and ended in chaos when Duval was dragged from the court, crying, "Long live anarchy!" He was condemned to death, but his sentence was later commuted to hard labor on Devil's Island, French Guiana.[2][3]

In a letter printed in the November 1886 issue of the anarchist paper Le Révolté, Duval famously declared: "Le vol n'est que la restitution, opéré à son profit par un individu conscient des richesses produites collectivement, et indûment accaparée par quelques-uns."[4] ("Theft is but restitution carried out by an individual to his own benefit, being conscious of another's undue monopolization of wealth.")

Duval spent the next 14 years in prison, attempting escape over 20 times. In April 1901, he succeeded and fled to New York City, where he lived until the age of 85.

Memoir[edit]

In 1929, Duval's memoir, Memorie Autobiografiche, was translated by Luigi Galleani and published in Italian.[5] In 1980, Marianne Enckell, at C.I.R.A. in Lausanne, recovered part of Dumas' original manuscript, and had it published[6] as Outrage: An Anarchist Memoir of the Penal Colony.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Albert, Paul (Winter 1984). "Clément Duval: An Anarchist on Devil's Island". Black Flag Quarterly. Reprinted by the Kate Sharpley Library, December 1997, Number 13. 7 (5): 86. 
  2. ^ Duval, Clément & Shreve, Michael (Translator) & Enckell, Marianne (Introduction) (1929). Outrage: An Anarchist Memoir of the Penal Colony (2012 ed.). PM Press. ISBN 978-1-60486-500-4. 
  3. ^ "Clément Duval, French anarchist burglar & member of the "Panthers of Batignolles". Duval timeline, excerpts from the Daily Bleed". The Anarchist Encyclopedia: A Gallery of Saints & Sinners ... 
  4. ^ "Clément Duval". Anarchist Encyclopedia. 
  5. ^ Duval, Clément & Galleani, Luigi (Translator) (1929). Memorie Autobiografiche (in Italian). 
  6. ^ "Clément Duval, French anarchist burglar & member of the "Panthers of Batignolles". Duval timeline, excerpts from the Daily Bleed". The Anarchist Encyclopedia: A Gallery of Saints & Sinners ... 
  7. ^ Duval, Clément & Shreve, Michael (Translator) & Enckell, Marianne (Introduction) (1929). Outrage: An Anarchist Memoir of the Penal Colony (2012 ed.). PM Press. ISBN 978-1-60486-500-4.