Monsters & Madness

Secret Lives in Victorian Literature

The Night He Risks It All He Also Risks His Life

“Just as I frequented ball-rooms and opera-houses — because they amused me, and because I had nothing better to do with my leisure hours. But on this occasion, it was very different–now, for the first time in my life, I felt what the passion for play really was. My success first bewildered, and then, in the most literal meaning of the word, intoxicated me. Incredible as it may appear, it is nevertheless true, that I only lost when I attempted to estimate chances, and played according to previous calculation. If I left everything to luck, and staked without any care or consideration, I was sure to win–to win in the face of every recognized probability in favour of the bank. At first some of the men present ventured their money safely enough on my colour; but I speedily increased my stakes to sums which they dared not risk. One after another they left off playing, and breathlessly looked on at my game”

This passage jumped out at me when I first read because of Collins’s interesting use of stream of consciousness. His writing gives the readers a unique way of seeing exactly what the speaker is thinking. Faulkner’s thoughts are short and sporadic. They are often detached from one another, but never straying from the focus of the passage, Faulkner’s game of Rouge et Noir. There is a constant repetition of the words I, My and me. He speaks of the game as though it is his, using possessive words such as, “my colour” “my game” “my success” (Collins 32). The speaker is so self-infatuated that he becomes oblivious to his surroundings. This passage takes place before he is drugged but he still states that the game, “in the most literal meaning of the word, intoxicated me” (Collins 32). Collin’s early references to the speaker’s disorientation and intoxication foreshadows his later on intense experience with drugs. Another passage that reveals Faulkner’s self-infatuation is when the man painting him comments on his appearance, “I shall see your natural expression on your face if I can only get you to talk about that adventure”. At this moment, not only is Faulkner so enthralled with his story that he has forgotten about modeling but also his story is so self-oriented that he would be showing his true self while telling it.

1 Comment

  1. Abeautifulfiend

    October 10, 2018 at 9:17 am

    This is interesting to me because you mention the Painter’s comment at the end of “A Terribly Strange Bed” about how he is looking to “see your natural expression on your face if I can only get you to talk about that adventure”. This reminds me of how we’ve seen the use of inner consciousness being turned into physical reality in paintings before. “My last Duchess” shows the painting as a window into the truth of someone ‘s character because as Alicia says in “Lady Audley’s Secret”, the painter is able to capture the more sinister expressions of the face that are not seen in everyday altercations and have it manifest on the canvas.

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