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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 the dizziness and vertigo typical of casino players. A devouring dive, without other limits than the irrational expectation of gains, which never come ... the adventure will end in a happy ending ... with Deauville as the backdrop.

In 1927 Joseph Kessel crowned with 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 was over, he headed for 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 lasts, he regularly plays, replays and loses the little he earns… A single thought obsesses him: to remake himself. He plays, bets on a number, a color, goes from table to table, from roulette to baccarat and plays again, 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 intoxicating diving and headlong flight, during which Joseph Kessel loses all notion and does not set any safeguards. The note grows 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 instructions come from Monsieur 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 inflexible. " … I watched you and made inquiries. You know, I don't lend 300 F to just anyone. Because you owe me 000F, Mr. Kessel! Now listen to me. You are sympathetic to me. I haven't read your books ... but I know the men. You are terribly playful. It was good that you had an experience that brought you to the brink of the abyss. There you are. It would suffice for me to put your checks in collection tomorrow and ... But, don't worry, I am not asking you for anything. In any case, not right away. I have the feeling that you will be able to reimburse me with what your books bring you. I'd rather you not go to the point of no return, and I've prepared a timeline 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 goes to the Prefecture of Police and asks 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. Having become “permanent guest of Monsieur 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, in his fifties, no longer flamed around green carpets. he abstains from playing, bathes in all weathers and savor his stays with passion, while he becomes one of the figures of Deauville ... and that he is today one of its most endearing ghosts .

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