The newspapers went wild for the story. They painted Curie as a seductress who had lured a family man away from his good French wife and children. It was an easy thing, given the prejudices of the day—Curie was a foreigner, being a native of Poland, and (they inaccurately reported) a Jew.
Except for this part — as I’ve said for years, libel is what we got when we abolished duelling; isn’t this preferable?
Meanwhile, there was not just one, but two duels fought over the incident. One was fought between two editors of rival papers: M. Chervet of the Gil Blas and Leon Daudet of L’action Francaise. Their argument was about the merits of Madame Langevin’s charges. The duel was fought with swords, and after “several fierce bouts,” Daudet was injured and the two reconciled.
The other duel was fought between Paul Langevin and Gustave Tery, a journalist who had called him a “boor and a coward.” Langevin didn’t take kindly to the insult and demanded a duel be fought with pistols. Elaborate preparations took place, but the duel resulted in nothing—Tery refused to shoot on the grounds that he did not want to rid France of one of its greatest minds, and Langevin declared that he wasn’t an assassin and put his gun down, too.