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JOSEPH KESSEL

Writer

Joseph Kessel (1898 - 1979), writer and journalist was a man of passions. At the age of 29, he experienced dizziness and vertigo, characteristic of casino players. A devouring dive, with no limits other than the irrational expectation of gains, which never come ... the adventure will end in a happy ending ... with Deauville as a backdrop.

In 1927 Joseph Kessel crowned by the Grand Prize for the novel of the French Academy, won the previous year with his novel Captives, is invited to give a conference at the prestigious Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco. When the conference is over, he heads to Cannes, intending to spend the evening and the night there.

In Cannes, he goes to the Casino to play with the amount of his fee. Over the course of the evening, which continues, he plays, replays and regularly loses the little he earns… One thought obsesses him: to redo himself. He plays, bets on a number, a color, goes from table to table, from roulette to baccarat and plays again and again, with the hope of winning. No matter, Joseph Kessel returns to his hotel and returns the next day with the same obstinacy, the same blindness. The adventure will last ten days. Ten days of an intoxicating dive and a flight ahead, during which Joseph Kessel loses all notion and does not set himself any guardrails. The note lengthens over the stay. It ends up reaching 300 F. A gambling debt, abysmal to which are added the 000 F claimed by the reception of the Hotel.

On the evening of the tenth day, the chief cashier of the casino refused him a new check, " The instruction comes from Mr. André ", He specifies. François André (1885-1962), is the owner of the Hotels and casinos of Cannes, Deauville and La Baule. Joseph Kessel, invited to join him in his office, tries to negotiate a new advance. François André remains adamant. " … I observed you and I inquired. You know, I don't lend 300 F to anyone. Because you owe me 000F, Mr. Kessel! Now listen to me. You are nice to me. I haven't read your books ... but I know men. You are terribly playful. It was good that you had an experience that brought you to the brink. You are there. It would suffice for me to put your checks for collection as of tomorrow and ... But, rest assured, I am not asking you for anything. In any case, not immediately. I have the feeling that you will be able to reimburse me with what your books bring you. I prefer that you do not go to the point of no return and I have prepared a timetable for you. Joseph Kessel leaves the office, humiliated, but preserved and in debt to a schedule of 120 monthly payments. Ten years of repayment, to settle a debt contracted in ten days!

The next day, back in Paris, Kessel went to the Prefecture of Police and asked to be banned from gambling for twenty years. In 1937, the debt was discharged and Joseph Kessel won the friendship of François André. The Emperor of the Games is a prince, he now opens his hotels and restaurants to him. Become "permanent guest of Mr. André", Joseph Kessel will frequent each year, the three palaces of Deauville; The Hotel Golf, The Royal and especially the N. Until the mid-70s, Kessel, the fifties no longer burned around the green carpet. he abstains from playing, bathes in all weathers and savor his stays with passion, while he becomes one of the figures of Deauville… and is one of the most endearing ghosts today .

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