The Generous Gamester by Charles Baudelaire


charles ray.jpg

'In order to compensate you for the irrecoverable loss which you have sustained, that of your soul, I give you the prize that you would have won if fate had been on your side, that is to say, the possibility of relieving and overcoming, all your life long, that strange affliction of Boredom, which is the source of all your disorders and of all your miserable progress. Never shall a desire be formed by you which I shall not help you to realize; you shall reign over your vulgar fellows; you shall be provided with flattery and even with adoration; silver, gold and diamonds, fairy palaces shall go in search of you and shall implore you to accept them, without your having made an effort to earn them; you shall have a change of country and of scenery as often as your fancy commands it; you shall inebriate yourself with sensual delights, without weariness, in those enchanting countries where it is always warm and where the women smell like flowers. Et cetera…' he added, rising and dismissing me with a gracious smile.

Had it not been for the fear of humiliating myself before such a large assembly, I would gladly have fallen at the feet of this generous gamester, to thank him for his unprecedented open-handedness. But after I had left him, little by little, that incurable distrust of mine entered once more into my heart; I dared no longer believe in such a prodigious happiness, and when, before going to bed, compelled by the residue of an idiotic habit, I again said my prayers, I drowsily muttered again and again: ‘O God! O Lord God! Make the devil keep his promise!'

Image: Charles Ray, The Examination, 1984. 

Soojin Chang