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Claude Cueni

Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch


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Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
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John Law

He was a womanizer, a murderer, a scientifical gambler, a mathematic genius
and the financial star of the 17th century:
John Law, the man who invented paper money and modern finance,
Quantitative Easing, and the biggest economical disaster in history.



Content

Cover 1
Content 2
Synopsis 3
Chapter I 4
Chapter II 19
Chapter III 38
About me (wikipedia) 42
Engl. Interview with Claude Cueni 45
Summary of excerpts from the german press 49
51

John Law
He put aside the gambling cards to test his theories on an entire
country and invented papermoney.


Available in chinese (mandarin), spanish, german, french, italian, dutch, portuguese, czech, bulgarian,
korean, russian, belgian, ukrainian, brazilian portuguese.


Claude Cueni
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Synopsis:
THE GREAT GAMBLER tells the true story of a man who walked the thin line
between reason and passion.
Claude Cuenis epic historical novel tells the story of John Law, the most
glamorous man of his time. A legendary lover, a brilliant mathematician and a
gambler, John Law put aside the gambling cards to test his theories on an entire
country.
Born in Edinburgh in 1671, John Law lost his fathers inheritance as a young man
at the gambling table. Good-looking, charming and adventurous, many women
fell victims to his power of seduction until, finally, their husbands cheered when
John Law killed a man in a duel and had to leave England for Europe. During his
travels across a continent that has been destroyed by decades of war, John Law
came up with a system that allowed the dwindling resources of metal money to
be replaced with paper. But Louis XIV saw no merit in the wild ideas of that
young Scottish protestant. But then the Sun King died and his decadent
successor, the Duke of Orleans, became Prince Regent. Impressed by modern
experiments, the Duke couldnt resist the idea of reducing Frances enormous
debts by simply running a printing machine. He made John Law Minister of
Finance who then founded the Banque Royale and tested his system on an
entire population: paper money was invented, the trade exploded, the masses
turned rich over night, and John Law became the worlds first millionaire, the
wealthiest man of his time. The Duke of Orleans, however, couldnt get enough
of a good thing. Neglecting his bankers advice, he printed money to meet the
financial demands of his extravagant way of living. The first new economy
collapsed, the bubble burst, the people were quick to blame one man: John Law.
Rich in historic details, fast paced and erotically charged.


Claude Cueni
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THE GREAT GAMBLER
(Or i gi nal : Das Gr osse Spi el )
by
CLAUDE CUENI

Translation
by
Lee Chadeayne


CHAPTER I

PARIS, 1683
"Am I going to die?" the Scotsman asked. His
nose, raw from constant wiping, dripped down
onto the scarlet cape he had wrapped tightly
around him. He pushed three gold coins
across the dark, stained oak table as if
offering a bribe to death. Then he leaned back
in his chair and stared at the doctor wide-
eyed. A wave of bitterness and hostility swept
over him. "Am I going to die?" he repeated in
his strong Scotch accent.
"You didn't make the long trip from Edinburgh
to Paris just to die here," Cartier smiled.
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"Don't be concerned, Mr. Law. You're in good
hands." Cartier's head was covered with
patches of reddish eczema, and in some
places his hair had fallen out in clumps. He'd
covered his head with thick, bright makeup to
hide the disfiguring pock marks. Then he
pointed at a glass bowl full of strangely
colored stones standing in the middle of the
huge table. Those are gall stones, Mr. Law.
Terribly painful to our patients who are now
free of pain now that we've removed them.
These people..."
What is the probability that Ill survive, Dr.
Cartier? the Scotchman interrupted. He was
accustomed to getting precise, straight
answers to his questions. He was after all
wearing the scarlet cape of the goldsmith
bankers of Edinburgh.
Dr. Cartier leaned over the table and stared
him directly in the face. Mr. Law, Im a
surgeon and not a mathematician. I dont
think much of these new sciences that have
come into fashion recently. The whole world is
trying to figure out probability. Please, Mr.
Law, thats nonsense. God alone decides, not
mathematics. For centuries, those Swiss
mountain farmers attacked us with their pikes
on the battlefields of Europe, and now they let
the Bernoulli brothers loose on us with their
probability theories. All truths are now
suddenly cast in doubt and need to be
explained again and interpretedin public,
where everyone can take part. Today every
stable hand is supposed to understand
everything. Thats a new sickness, Mr. Law, a
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plague. But your problem, Mr. Law, your
problem is curable. For more than two
hundred fifty years weve been performing
gallstone operations according to the same
rules. But these rules are secret, Mr. Law, and
for good reason. What would it come to if
everyone could form his own opinion? If even
farmers in Holland could perform episiotomies
on their livestock? Now everyone in the world
wants to generate and publicize their own
statistics, every patient wants to be
something of a Bernoulli, a mathematician, a
prognosticator. Thats a sin against God and
the monarchy! Numbers, facts, relationships!
Predicting the future! Figuring out Gods
plans! They want to play God! Ill tell you
something, Mr. Law. Calculating probability is
something for gamblers. Dr. Cartier stopped
and took a deep breath. He was even
surprised himself that hed become so
emotional.
William Law nodded politely and leaned down
now over the table, as well. Dr. Cartier, I am
William Law, goldsmith and coin inspector
from Edinburgh in Scotland, and counselor to
the royal mint. Of my seven sons and five
daughters, only four survived childhood.
Statistically, that's average for Edinburgh,
according to my son John. I just want to know
what the statistics are in your hospital so I
can decide whether or not to take the risk. At
home in Lauriston Castle, which I acquired a
few weeks ago, my wife and my sons John and
William, await me. For a moment the two
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men sat staring at each other, suspicious and
threatening.
Then Cartier sighed, stood up, and pushed the
louis d'or back into the middle of the table.
Mr. Law, for thirty-one percent of patients,
the operation ends in death. But if you die,
Mr. Law, your death is not thirty-one percent;
your own death is always one hundred
percent, and thats why I care nothing for
these probability calculations. It takes very
little poison to destroy a body; sometimes it
takes no more than an idea. The new
mathematics is worse than the plague. If it
prevails, nothing will be the same as before."
The world will be different, thats all, Dr.
Cartier, the Scotchman replied wearily. The
old will die and the new will be born. The
entire organism never dies. William Law
smiled politely. Actually I asked you about
statistics only for the sake of my son John.. It
wasnt my intent to call your abilities as a
surgeon into question. In case this is the
impression I have created, Im sorry, and I
sincerely beg your pardon."
Cartier stretched out his arm and patted Laws
hand affectionately. Dont worry, Mr. Law, we
wont let the coin inspector from Edinburgh
die. In these times of high emotions that
could easily lead to a new war, and that is
something Europe has already seen too much
of."
Law pulled back his hand and took out two
brown, sealed envelopes from the inside
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pocket of his crimson cloak and put them
down hesitantly on the table. This letter is
for my wife and the other for my older son,
John. John Law. Just to be safe. Its still
thirty-one percent.
Shortly after, as the two men walked toward
the operating rooms, their steps echoed loudly
through the high-columned halls of the
Charit. So your eldest will probably also
become a goldsmith? said Cartier, in an
attempt to make a little conversation.
In Scotland every goldsmith is also a
banker. The Law family has been active as
goldsmiths for generationsor as pastors.
Some of them even became cardinals.
William Law was afraid, he was even sick with
fear. Dizzy spells came over him again and
again and he had the feeling that the very
next step would find him falling into the void.
The Scotchman had caught a cold and high
fever during the long trip by coach from
Edinburgh to Paris. He was freezing. A shrill
whistling in his ears startled him and his heart
raced as if it were about to burst out of his
chest and run back to Edinburgh by itself.
Well? Cartier asked in a markedly friendly
manner. Will your eldest become a goldsmith
or a cardinal?
John is only twelve, William demurred with
embarrassment. He is not good at working
with his hands ... He struggled for breath, he
needed air.
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Then hell be a cardinal, the surgeon
laughed, putting his arm around the mans
shoulder comfortingly.
.
.
With quick, deft movements, twelve-year-old
John thrust his penis between the throbbing
loins of the servant girl Janine. The girl was
resting on the wooden chest in front of the
window of the tower room. She had thrown
her head back into the window recess as if
wanting to look up into the overcast sky. Ill
teach you everything, John, she moaned,
every move, every trick in the art of
seduction, abandoning yourself to your lustful
impulses, the art of keeping a mistress and
spoiling her. With lightning speed the twenty-
year-old seized Johns hips, pushed back
softly, turned, and knelt face down on the
chest facing the window. Looking down toward
the river, she saw a woman walking beneath
the trees and approaching quickly. John
shoved his penis in again, like a puppy who
knew nothing else, impetuous and violent. He
was unusually large for his age and looked
almost like a man. Only the mischievous
gleam in his friendly, dark eyes gave a hint of
his young age. Janine had once said to him
she had never kissed such a beautiful mouth.
For John, Janine was not the chamber pot of
husbands, the pisspot of the lord of the
house, as the French contemptuously called
them. Quite the contrary, for him Janine was
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like a window on the wide world. Janine had
worked as a maid in Paris for a goldsmith who
had been broken by his passion for gambling.
Janine had taught John not just the card game
Pharao, but also the things people talked
about in the salons of the rich and mighty.
And people spoke about just one thing. Fais-
le-bien, the French said at the court of the
Sun King. Do it well, and John wanted to be
the best, a real lecher, a hero for his time, a
cardinal of the erotic.
John! came the furious voice of a woman
from down below. She sounded impatient and
tired. The seventy hectares of land on the
south shore of the Firth of Forth belonged to
Lauriston Castle, a three-story, imposing
building with two small watchtowers. Drawing
nearer, the woman stopped below the tower
on the left supported by a corbel. John, I
must speak with you, she shouted, looking up
at the tower window. The boy stuck his head
out and shouted back. What do you want
now, mother? Im working.
.
.
After Janine had served the food in the great
dining hallvegetable soup, bread and
cheeseJean Law recited a short prayer. The
twelve births had left their mark on her. The
once fiery red, shoulder length hair, which she
had tied together with a red ribbon, had
become brittle, her face was gaunt, and her
eyes told of all the sorrow she had known and
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borne. Jean Law was thirty-six. After finishing
the prayer, she added softly: And may God
protect William Law and see that he is healed
and returned safely to his family.
Until a few weeks ago the family of six had
been living in Edinburgh in a small apartment
on Parliament Square, but now they were the
proud owners of Lauriston Castle. William Law
stood at the apogee of societal acceptance,
and if he retuned healthy, then their
happiness would be complete. Jean Law was
fearful of this thought. She distrusted fate,
but not because she had already lost eight
children. In Edinburgh, where people lived
closer together than anywhere in the world,
that was nothing special. Childhood death was
so ordinary that people didnt think it
necessary to baptize children before the age
of seven, or lavish any special affection on
them. No, Jean Law distrusted fate because
she knew that a cloverleaf seldom had four
leafs. And now that they had assumed
ownership of Lauriston Castle, the absence of
her husband worried her greatly. She was
both religious and superstitious, in equal
measure.
Janine first served Jean her soup, then John,
and finally his brother William, younger by
one year. The two girls, six-year-old twins,
ate as usual out in the kitchen. As Janine
served the soup, John Law gazed again at her
well-rounded breasts covered with a
stomacher. John wanted nothing more than to
rush back into the tower room at once. Janine
had really cast a spell on him. He couldnt
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help thinking of her bottom and her white
thighs, and his erect penis absolutely drove
him wild. Often he closed his eyes during
class at school in order to inhale the fragrance
of her hair, her breast, her sweaty skin, and
her wet thighs. And when he opened his eyes
again, his lips uttered a soft sigh.
So, John, his mother began, Your teacher
wanted to speak with me today. He thinks you
are very intelligent and have a special gift for
numbers. Sometimes you even have a touch
of genius. Those were his words exactly..."
Johns brother William began to laugh out
loud, but John didnt seem to notice.
But mother, John replied with a charming
smile, do you really think my teacher is in
any position to recognize genius?
What is that supposed to mean?
He doesnt know very much about
mathematics, John replied, and since he is
my teacher, he's quite aware of that.
Pride cometh before a fall, shouted William,
Arrogant as a Frenchman! But again John
paid no attention to him. He spoke like a
grown-up, Janine noticed with silent
satisfaction. After all, he was the one who
showed her how to conceal every emotion in a
card game and match the spoken word with
the appropriate gesture.
John! God will punish you someday for your
arrogance! his mother scolded.
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Excuse me, mother, but is it arrogance if I
point out errors to my teacher? Shall I humbly
fall silent only because hes my teacher?
Respect has to be earned, mother, through
knowledge and accomplishments, not by virtue
of office and titles.
Arent office and titles based on knowledge
and accomplishments? his mother inquired.
Her voice sounded tired. More and more she
lacked the strength to engage in such
arguments.
We stand on the threshold of a new day,
Mother. The cards are being reshuffled ...
Stop it, John! she cried, pounding the table
with the palm of her hand. With such ideas
you offend God and the King. Whoever does
not accept divine order stands outside the
Christian community.
You are right, Mother. But dont we owe our
progress to exactly those people who dont
accept the existing order and have
deliberately set themselves apart?
With a sudden motion, Jean threw her spoon
on the table and shouted: Its not for you to
judge your mother and say shes right or
wrong!
I beg your forgiveness, Mother. I didnt wish
to offend. And with a smile so typical of him
he softly added: If you wish, mother, Ill
even say the earth is flat, if I must, in order
not to lose your love.
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Jean wanted to scold her son, but Johns smile
moved her heart. Secretly she was proud of
her little John, who had suddenly become so
grown-up. She picked up her spoon again,
dipped it in the soup, then paused again.
Your teacher says youre very
temperamental, and that upsets him.
Everything he doesnt know and therefore
doesnt understand upsets him. Perhaps we
should change teachers. The boy grinned.
John, his mother said in a very serious
voice, When your father returns, Ill suggest
he send you to Eaglesham ...
Renfrewshire? To this befuddled preacher?
They say the devils behind him.
John cast a pleading look at Janine, but shed
already turned her back and was on the way
out the door. And John thought God had given
her this wonderful ass just as He had given
him his gift for mathematics.
Father will surely want to keep me here near
him, John smiled. Im certain of that.
Certain? his brother joshed. How certain,
master?
One hundred percent certain, John hissed,
poking his brother in the thigh with his two-
pointed fork. William let out a shriek.
.
.
William Laws screams echoed through the corridors
of the Paris Charit. One of his Cartiers assistants
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pressed Laws' shoulder down onto the wooden bed.
To the left and the right of the patient stood
assistants holding his arms and legs securely. Cartier
pushed the scalpel even deeper into the thigh
muscle directly adjacent to the anus and tried once
more to feel the gallstone with his fingers while
William Law screamed and struggled to sit up.
Cartier widened the incision and tried now to shove
the speculum to reach the stone in the kidney. The
surgeon was spattered with blood like a butcher in a
slaughterhouse. The stone was still inside the
kidney, and it was huge. An hour later his cries had
stopped, and Dr. Cartier looked in shock at the
blood-covered abdomen of the Scotchman. Then he
took the mans warm penis in his hand and
introduced the stiff probe into the urethra, trying to
locate the opening to the bladder. He couldnt
comprehend was had happened.
Doctor Cartier, whispered his young assistant
Dutronc in a calm voice. Doctor Cartier. The patient
is dead.
Cartier paused, staring at the penis in his hand.
Then he let it go. As he washed his hand, the bowl of
water shook in the hands of his assistant. The bloody
water spilled over the edge of the bowl and onto the
floor.
Shortly after, Cartier sat exhausted in his paneled
study. William Law, the Inspector of the Edinburgh
Mint, had bled to death in the year 1683 during a
lithotomy, the oldest known surgical procedure. It
was out of the question to ship the body to far-off
Scotland. He would be buried without ceremony in
the Scottish Seminary in Paris. Cartier stared at the
heavy red seals on the two brown envelopes the
Scotchman had given him.
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He knew the risk, I kept nothing from him, isnt that
right, Dutronc? The Scotchman knew the risk!
Cartier looked up at his assistant Dutronc who was
standing patiently in front of the desk, evidently
awaiting some order.
Im your witness, Doctor Cartier. You informed
him.
Cartier smiled. And its still in Gods hands who lives
and who dies, isnt that right, Dutronc? We struggle
as best we can, but God decides.
Dutronc was silent, and Cartier looked up at him
again.
Whats wrong, Dutronc? Hes dead. Accept that and
turn your endeavors back to the living. Believe me,
Id rather Law were still alive and we wouldnt have
to take these two envelopes to the post office.
His death was perhaps avoidable, Dutronc said
softly, without looking Dr. Cartier in the eyes.
What are you saying? Cartier asked crossly. If it
had been the will of God ... Or are you trying to say
I did something wrong?
No, no, Dr. Cartier, you did nothing wrong. All of us
may be doing something wrong.
Do you want to perform gallstone operations using
steam engines? Or with mysterious magnets?
Cartier asked, laughing contemptuously.
Dr. Cartier, for more than two hundred years ...
Youre right, Mr. Dutronc! For more than two
hundred years gallstones have been removed in this
manner. People suffer from their stones, some can
be helped, and others die. But nothing has changed
in the way the operation is performed, because there
is nothing to change. Human anatomy doesnt
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change, nor do the stones, and its for this reason
that this operation will be done exactly the same
way a thousand years from now in exactly the way it
is today."
"No, Dr. Cartier," Dutronc flared up, unable to
contain his youthful temperament any longer.
"We have to share our knowledge, Dr. Cartier,
with the doctors and surgeons from Italy,
Holland, and England ..."
"Just cut it out, Dutronc! If there's something
I can't stand, it's a hothead."
"It's not just gunpowder that's changing
Europe! People are discovering new things all
over the world."
"You just watch out what you say, Dutronc.
You can strain a muscle just so far, and then
it tears!"
"Have we strained that muscle because we
don't live in caves any more and eat raw
meat?"
"Listen, Dutronc, I know it's become the
fashion in society to listen even to children
and women, but I won't listen to you one
minute longer. Take these letters to the post
office! And then, as far as I'm concerned, take
the next coach for Amsterdam to Brother
Jacques de Beaulieu. He just had a shoemaker
make him a new tool for operating on kidney
stones. A shoemaker!" Cartier shouted ,
pressing the two envelopes into Dutronc's
hand. Dutronc took them and nodded. He
could see there was no point in continuing the
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conversation with Cartier. Bowing briefly, he
turned and hurried out the door.
"Dutronc!" Cartier called out, and Dutronc
whirled around, his long blond hair whirling.
"You want to play God, Dutronc! You want to
create an immortal man in the image of God,
and for that God will punish you!"
Dutronc's eyes glowed as if fired by black
magic or a great love: "Yes!" he rejoiced, with
passion in his voice. "Yes, Dr. Cartier, and the
question whether or not there is a God must
also be asked once again, and some day even
the seat of your almighty God will be occupied
by a man, and we will make men in our own
image. And machines will do the work, while
we happily fly through the air and visit cities
deep beneath the sea!"
"Dreamer!" Cartier roared. "You're a dreamer
possessed by the devil! A goddamed
dreamer!"
.

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CHAPTER II
.
From the tower room John Law and the
servant girl Janine watched as his mother
climbed into the carriage and rode off. Soon
the coach disappeared in the morning mist
and all you could hear was the receding hoof
beats of the horses. Janine closed the tower
window, hurried over to the old wardrobe
closet, and tore off her clothes. John sat
astride a chest in front of the wardrobe
watching the girl with growing ardor. Though
she was already twenty, she wasn't much
taller than he. He watched as she disrobed,
then tried on some of the finery in the closet,
clothes that Madam had worn many years ago.
"You can play different parts," she lectured
him, squinting coquettishly as she always did
when she was trying to seduce him. "You can
play the pining youth, the experienced
cavalier, the callous lecher. But don't be too
polite, just do it." John took a deep breath. He
couldn't see enough of Janine's body; he had
completely fallen for her. Janine responded
with a coquettish smile and continued. "Love
is a skill and not a feeling. It's a skill you can
learn, and you just pretend to be in love. That
part of the act."
Janine stuck a mouche on her chin. John
already knew about this odd accessory.
Mouches were little black beauty spots in the
form of circles, half moons, animals or
symbols that intensified the contrast between
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the marble-white skin of ladies, untouched by
the sunlight because they had not had to toil
as field workers in the bright sunshine.
"Always keep your eye on the mouche, John,
it says more than a thousand words. If the
mouche is by the left eye, then the lady is in
a relationship and is loyal, but only to a
degree. That means you'll need to try harder
to get under her skirt. You must."
Janine straightened the scarf covering the
cleavage between her breasts, picked up a
fan, waved it back and forth three times, then
tipped the fan slightly in John's direction.
"You want it right away," John said.
"No," Janine replied coolly, "I've made contact
with you. I've noticed you were watching me
all along and now I've made contact."
Janine straightened her scarf. "And now?" she
asked.
"But now you do want it, right away."
Janine's face darkened. "John, I'm showing
you my neckline. It means you can approach
the lady. Try a little harder. I know you have
the best memory in all of Edinburgh."
John stood up and approached the young
woman, grinning from ear to ear.
"Now the scarf." She loosened the scarf
wrapped around her shoulders and neck. To
John it seemed like the craftiest move of
feminine coquetterie. It concealed what she
wanted to show, it stimulated curiosity, and
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nearly drove him wild. Janine stepped back a
pace and snapped the fan shut, then quickly
opened it again. "I can't take this any more,
Janine," he pleaded. "My head is spinning."
Janine stepped back further, repeating the
gesture with the fan. "Please, John, think. The
fan language is the most important language
in the salons. It permits the most intimate
conversation, expressing pleasure and
displeasure, an invitation to approach, and an
agreement to have a rendezvous. Now I'm
inviting you to follow me. Did you note the
time of our meeting that I've conveyed?"
John tore off his pants while Janine spread the
fan out like a peacock's feathers.
"Now I'm turning you away," she laughed.
John seized the fan with one hand and
snapped it closed. "And now you want me,
right now; the fan speaks an unmistakable
language." Grinning, he sank to his knees
before Janine and caressed her legs before his
tousled hair disappeared underneath Janine's
skirt.
Janine staggered backward, bumping into
Madam's wardrobe. "John," she sighed, "Give
the ladies in the salons a chance to take out
their handkerchiefs and smell them. The
perfume makes them blush and look like they
were innocent girls who never took part in an
orgy out there in the hunting castles before
the gates of Paris." Janine sank to the floor
and pulled John gently over her.
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Suddenly the door was shoved open and
young William Law stood there staring in
disbelief at his older brother struggling to pull
away from Janine.
"The young gentleman is worse than a
cockroach," John said, looking at his brother
disdainfully. "A cockroach that can climb
stairs and open doors."
A man's voice called out from in front of the
house. "Madam Law!"
John calmly zipped up his fly and walked to
the window. Outside was a letter carrier on
horseback.
"He has mail from Paris, but he wants to give
it to our mother in person," William
stammered. He was visibly shaken.
John rushed out of the room and hurried down
the stairs of the tower room.
Upstairs, Janine and William stood watching in
the window as John came running out of the
house to meet the letter carrier who was
dismounting from his horse
"I have mail for Mrs. Law," he said.
John held out his hand. "Madam is in church,
and I am John, John Law, the eldest son."
The letter carrier did not move.
John glared at him. "Some day I'll be master
of Lauriston Castle and I swear by God if you
don't give me that letter at once ..."
Claude Cueni
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23
The carrier grinned, revealing a mouthful of
brown tooth stumps. "Long before you become
Lord of Lauriston Castle I'll be roasting in
hell."
John pulled out a deck of playing cards. "Then
let's play. If you win, you get a half-penny;
and if I win, you'll give me the mail." Both of
them sat down in the grass.
"And where is your half penny?" the carrier
asked.
"Give me a piece of paper," John replied.
The carrier hesitated, then finally pulled a
small piece of paper from his breast pocket
and handed it to John.
"So," John said. "I have a half-penny, but I
don't have it here because it's busy
somewhere else. Do you understand? I gave
the half-penny to our servant girl so it can
earn interest. I have it, but it's not in my
hand. For me to make a deal with you now,
let's decide this piece of paper is worth half a
penny. You can exchange this piece of paper
for the money anytime you want, just not
today."
The carrier opened his eyes wide and took a
deep breath. Then he bit his lower lip and look
at the young John Law. "All right, then, what's
the name of this game?"
Up in the tower window Janine and William
stood watching this strange scene. "They're
actually going to play cards," Janine said,
shaking her head in disbelief.
Claude Cueni
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24
"Yes," William murmured, looking in disbelief
at Janine's naked bottom. It seemed to him
the naked bottom was replying. "Yes," William
replied, struggling to take his eyes away.
"Mother always says that the Dear Lord gave
John a talent for mathematics, but the Devil
gave him the desire to fritter it all away."
"He only said he had mail for Madam," Janine
said softly.
"That's good news," William murmured. "Mail
for Mother means everything has worked out;
otherwise there would be mail for John, too, a
farewell letter..."
Down in the yard, the carrier and John placed
the cards in the grass. John took a card from
the pile and said "Your turn."
"Two jacks," the carrier said.
John put down his two cards face up, and got
to his feet. He had two queens. "Now hand
over the letter."
Astonished, the carrier stared at the cards on
the ground, looked again at the cards in his
hand, then threw them down with disgust. He
rose with a sigh, went to his horse and
fetched a brown envelope from his saddlebag.
John ripped the letter out of his hand and was
about to run back into the house, but the
postal carrier stopped him.
"Oh, it occurs to me ..." He grinned again,
showing his rotted teeth. "I also have another
letter here for a certain John Law ..."
Claude Cueni
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25
John struggled to catch his breath. Slowly, he
came back toward the carrier. He could feel
his legs becoming as heavy as lead. One more
brown envelope from Paris. With the red seal
of his father.
.
.
The autumn storms of recent weeks had blown
over the apple tree in the inner courtyard,
where it remained lying in the grass. The two
boys sat on the rotting trunk as William poked
around with a straw in the soft bark chasing
ants.
"Do you love her?" he asked softly, without
looking at his brother.
John was still staring at the two letters in his
hand. "Janine? We're just playing around. She
says no one wants to be loved and that the
people in the Paris salons are simply enjoying
themselves. Sometimes they feel lust for each
other, but not love. Love is not enough to live
on, they say. It takes money."
William shrugged. "Do you think our parents
were in love?"
John glanced quickly at his brother. Perhaps
the younger boy didn't even realize he had
spoken in the past tense.
"They were allies: against death, against the
vagaries of fate. Perhaps that is even more
than love."
Claude Cueni
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26
"Then why don't you open the latter?"
"It's for Mother, that's why I won't open it."
"You're lying," William said softly. "I watched
you from the window up in the tower. One
letter is for you. I was there when father
wrote the two letters. He said ..." William
couldn't continue; he lowered his head in
shame.
John closed his eyes. He felt choked with grief
and now his eyes filled with tears. After
awhile he looked up into the sky and saw the
huge clouds passing over Lauriston Castle like
white giants. It felt like the soul was escaping
from the walls of Lauriston Castle, leaving
behind only a pile of stones. He felt like the
little ant his brother had chased into the crack
in the bark of the tree. Suddenly he felt so
alone at Lauriston Castle. He would have
given anything to be able to talk once more
with his father. At that moment William
started sobbing loudly and accepted his
brother's warm embrace.
"John, you're crying!" William sobbed, looking
up at his elder brother. And indeed, tears
were rolling down his transfixed cheeks.
"It's just like a cask that has been broached
by fate, and sooner or later is empty."
"And what becomes of the cask, then?"
William asked. John remained silent. In the
distance the sound of an approaching coach
could be heard.
Claude Cueni
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27
As Madam Law drove into courtyard, her gaze
fell immediately on her two boys. From the
way they were sitting there together on the
upended tree trunk it was immediately clear
to her what had happened. The coach had
come to a halt and the coachman helped her
down. Janine came running out of the house
and threw herself in her mistress's arms, and
Madam couldn't help thinking of all the
children she had lost in recent years and her
husband, William Law, who had always stood
loyally by her side, had honored her and
esteemed her, and she thought about what a
good husband he had been. When she looked
up and saw the monumental facade of
Lauriston Castle, she felt an unspeakable
weariness coming over her. She saw her two
boys standing there, looking up helplessly at
her and she knew she had to persevere, for
their sake. She couldn't give up yet; she was
still needed in this world, just a few more
years. Then William and John would be old
enough to care for their little sisters. Then
she would be able to go home, finally, to join
her husband. Violent cramps shook her body,
she cried silently, damning this cruel God who
showed no love nor pity, reveling in the
misery of his people down on earth, this
miserable earth, an earth wracked by plagues,
bloody wars, and floods. And suddenly she felt
an overwhelming anger toward William Law
who had simply stolen away from all this
misery on an operating table in Paris.
.
.
Claude Cueni
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28
A flock of crows passed over Lauriston Castle,
a dog wandered aimlessly over the deserted
court in front of the building, the castle
seemed empty, dead. Somewhere a voice
could be heard deep inside the castle, then
silence reigned again. The tower room was no
longer used, and a pair of crows had settled
there on the stone windowsill.
.
Cemeteries had always been places of
consolation for Jean Law. The graves spoke to
her in a clear language: Look, we are already
here. It is behind us. Death may be unjust,
but it is what it is. Accept it, or perish with
grief. Whatever there once was is gone
forever.
Jean Law's gaze wandered across the
graveyard. She could no longer cry; all she
felt was weakness and exhaustion, infinite
weariness. Her whole body ached, every
muscle seemed as if turned to stone, every
joint dislocated, every organ enflamed. Her
mouth was dry, she had a lump in her throat,
a fist in her stomach. Crying without shedding
tears, crying with untrembling lips. She was
familiar with this feeling and knew she would
survive. But she wouldn't be able to take
much more, even though that's just what she
thought the last time. But fate added yet one
more burden on her, another log that fed the
flames, intensifying her pain.
She would bear it, she would bear it with
dignity. She knew she could not change what
Claude Cueni
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29
had happened. She would have to change in
order to deal with her new life. She tried to
think of other things, simple things. She
needed to take in fruit for the winter and she
needed to saw up the fallen tree out in the
front courtyard , split it, and stack it in a dry
place for the winter.
William clung to her arm with both hands.
Though he was eleven, he was yet a child.
John, on the other hand, seemed very stoic,
as if aware that fate had assigned him a new
role overnight. He supported his mother and
kissed her gently on the temple. Lovingly he
held her right hand as if in this way he might
be able to transfer some of his impetuous
energy to the grieving widow.
Many people had come to show their last
respects to William Law, the money changer
and coin inspector of the city of Edinburgh,
respected citizens and guildmasters, members
of the Scottish parliament as well as Scottish
royalty.
Young fellows sat in the trees behind the
cemetery walls, craning their necks. It wasn't
every day one could see so much finery in one
place, and many of the curious citizens of
Edinburgh remembered the even more
grandiose ceremonies four years before, when
James, the brother of the king, the Duke of
York, had been anointed Viceroy of Scotland.
With him the city had been catapulted
overnight into a strange new era. The narrow
streets were now brightly lit with lanterns at
night, modern coffee houses had sprung up
Claude Cueni
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30
everywhere, international trade organizations
had their headquarters here, and magnificent
gardens and palatial royal residences had
been built. William Law was no viceroy, but
his burial fed the growing yearning for
grandeur. A bright ray of light from the palace
of the legendary Sun King in Versailles
seemed to shine upon Edinburgh, and none of
those present seemed to be greatly disturbed
that the coffin was empty and the corpse
remained in Paris.
The Bishop of Edinburgh had admonished the
mourners gathered in the Royal Church not to
despair in this hour of grief, but have
confidence in God's will. John Law shook his
head bitterly at the gravesite as the coffin
was lowered into the grave. He wondered
what sense there was in bestowing life on
people and then taking it back again in such a
cruel way. Was God a card player, just toying
with men's lives? Was God a cynic without
scruples, a sadist without morals? Or just a
Sun King of the imagination?
John looked at his mother. She had closed her
eyes and seemed to be hardly breathing. As
he prepared to approach the grave with her,
she wouldn't move. Frozen into a pillar of salt,
John thought. Finally his mother opened her
eyes, stared blankly into space, whispered the
word "William," and fainted.
.
Four days later John was sitting by the
window on the second floor of the house
Claude Cueni
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31
belonging to the notary Rodxburghe. His
mother and brother were also present, but the
notary was keeping them waiting. The house
was located in the Guilds section of town
where taverns and seedy bars were crowded
together and business dealings were
concluded with huge tankards of beer. William
Law had often taken his son John to this part
of town. The boy had listened in on
innumerable conversations and negotiations,
and later his father would explain to him why
he'd said this or that and had withheld
something else. His father always said there
were two secrets in the world: money and
love. He didn't understand much about love,
he said, but he understood money. Money, he
said, was not what people thought it was
when they held a coin in their hand. What was
a promissory note worth? No more than the
paper it was written on? There was a
currency, his father explained with a smile,
based only on confidence. John found this idea
exciting. He loved such mind games
pondering the nature of infinity, for example,
or what there might have been before
anything existed.
His daydreams were interrupted by a sound
from the next room. Someone had broken
wind loudly, like the blaring of a trumpet.
William giggled under his breath and looked at
his brother. John smiled weakly in return,
then looked down at the street. In a few
minutes he would be able to call himself John
Law of Lauriston, but he still couldn't quite
comprehend it. Down on the road a man was
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32
shoveling a pile of excrement away from the
entrance to the coffee house, pushing it just a
few yards down the street. Edinburgh looked
as if a scruffy God had been defecating on the
city for years. Wherever you looked, there
were piles lying around. Some months ago an
English barrister, a certain Joseph Taylor, had
sued a Scottish storeowner because he had
slipped on a pile of excrement on leaving his
shop and had broken his arm. "Every street,"
he had shouted in the Edinburgh courtroom,
"every street in Edinburgh is a testament to
the depravity of its inhabitants. The city is
one huge privy." The booing of the spectators
had brought him to silence. The behavior of
the English jurist aroused the public for weeks
and demonstrated unmistakably that the union
of the English and Scottish crown was quite
impossible. But in fact the city stank to high
heaven, and many people would leave their
homes only while holding perfumed
handkerchiefs to their nose and mouth.
Finally the door from the next room opened
and Notary Roxburghe entered. He looked pale
and exhausted, and stank of fecal matter. In
his hands he carried a bundle of documents
that he dropped onto the massive oaken table,
then sank into an equally massive lounge
chair.
"Madam Law," he began, "I'd like first to say
that your deceased husband William Law had
very extensive and complicated business
dealings. After all, he was not just the largest
financier of the Scottish cattle trade. He
conducted his business with promissory notes
Claude Cueni
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33
and bills of exchange, which he used like
money. ... I don't know how much you know
about all this?"
"My husband and I ...," Jean Law said, before
pausing. "My husband indeed spoke to me
about his business dealings."
The notary nodded impatiently while licking
his dry lips with the tip of his tongue, which
was full of abscesses. "There are some
outstanding small debts but also considerable
assets in the amount of over twenty-five
thousand pounds that your deceased husband
..."
Jean Law interrupted the notary. "Who are the
debtors?"
Her face blanched when the notary read off
the list of names. The entire Scottish nobility
was represented: the Dundonalds, Arghlls,
Burghlys, Hamiltons, Seatorths and the Mars
...But the notary Roxburghe was also listed
among the debtors. Jean Law knew enough
about financial dealings to understand that it
would take years to collect these debts.
Twenty-five thousand pounds was a princely
sum. A good worker, for example, made only
about three pounds a month. Twenty-five
thousand pounds were therefore around seven
hundred times a worker's annual income. Jean
glanced at her son, as if to assure herself of
his support. To a certain extent he was
already a man, tall and confident, and with
the looks that awakened desire and passion in
women. But on the other hand he was still
Claude Cueni
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34
just a boy. Secretly Jean feared that her son
was not capable of dealing with money. He
loved beautiful things, fancy clothes, and had
a chivalrous manner and social graces. He
loved card games and long nights. He was well
on the way to becoming a real dandy, and that
was what worried her. She knew that when
she left that room today her son would be a
rich man. He would have money, but not yet
the maturity to use it wisely.
The notary began to read the testament of the
deceased. Ownership of newly acquired
Lauriston Castle and the lease income from it
would go in equal parts to his wife, Jean Law,
and his eldest son, John Law. John would be
given the title "of Lauriston" and inherit the
walking stick with the golden handle, the
status symbol of Scottish bankers. It was the
wish of the deceased that the walking stick
itself be kept in the Charit in Paris and be
presented to John in Paris sometime in the
future. "You know what is engraved on the
handle," said the notary, turning to John. Non
obscura nec ima. Neither obscure nor petty.
The notary gave him a piercing gaze. "Show
yourself worthy of the your family's motto,
John. Your father wished it so. He will be with
you and your brother William on your journey
through life."
William gave his brother a furious look. He
hated his father for giving John half of
Lauriston Castle. He hated the thought that
from now on he would be living in the castle
belonging to his brother. Jean Law felt cut to
the quick. She had given her husband twelve
Claude Cueni
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35
children, she had always served him and
honored him, and now she would be put on
the same level as John, the twelve-year-old
son and heir. The notary droned on and on,
and though she tried to concentrate on the
words of the notary, she was surprised she
was no longer listening. Roxburghe was now
reading something that her husband had
written just for the family. William Law urged
them to keep their spirits up, praising his son
John in particular, stressing his talent with
numbers and also in use of his sword. ...
"He screws the maid" young William
interrupted. He seemed to be surprised at
himself for being so impertinent and looked
down at the ground. His mother gazed at him
severely.
"Your father meant commendable progress in
swordsmanship, of course," the notary said as
he prepared to read on, but William wouldn't
let up.
"He's screwing the maid in the tower room,"
he grumbled defiantly.
John remained unflustered. After all, Janine
had explained to him often enough what it
meant to retain one's composure.
"My brother William is disappointed that I
have inherited Lauriston Castle, and all he has
is his father's given name."
William was furious and about to jump up, but
his mother held him back.
Claude Cueni
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36
"Please continue," John said, as if wanting to
show everyone who the new master was in
Lauriston Castle.
The notary cleared his throat, adjusted the
distance of the document to see it more
clearly, and continued. William Law praised
the excellent qualities of his firstborn son, but
also expressed his concerns. He feared that
John, with his innate exuberance and
recklessness might squander his gifts too soon
and wanted for this reason for him to be sent
to a boarding school for his own protection,
far from the temptations of the big city, to
Eaglesham in Renfrewshire.
William, who had slumped down in his chair,
sat up straight again, beaming from ear to
ear. His mother looked at him reproachfully,
knowing what her deceased husband's wish for
John meant. It was like a sentence, a
banishment
John continued staring straight ahead,.
immediately recognizing the consequences of
this provision in the testament. Even if half of
Lauriston Castle belonged to him along with
the lease income, the noble title, the gold-
handled walking stick, it would all be nothing
to him now. He would have to continue
following instructions and bide his time.
I'll go, John thought to himself, and I'll learn,
and some day I'll come back and watch them
all turn green with envy. And then I'll leave
this cesspool forever. John was proud his face
did not flush with anger, that he didn't
Claude Cueni
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37
tremble, that he didn't lose control like a
beaten horse. He felt even more how this
ability distinguished him from other men and
made him strong. And thus, even in this hour
in which William celebrated his triumph, he
himself had a sense of satisfaction, of
superiority.
.

Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
38
CHAPTER III
.
The coachman urged them to leave soon, as a
storm was approaching. John looked up at the
dark gray clouds, and indeed even God
seemed to be displeased with the idea of
going to a boarding school. John embraced his
mother. The farewell was difficult, but the
anger of being banished to the end of the
earth was greater and stifled all other
feelings. Jean Law knew it was good to ensure
that her son was In Renfrewshire where he
would be able to devote himself entirely to his
studies far from the many temptations of
Edinburgh. But she wasn't happy to lose the
only man in the house. John embraced his two
little sisters who seemed not to comprehend
that it was a farewell for a long time. After
embracing Janine he stepped back, saw her
tearful eyes, and smiled. Then he leaned
forward and whispered in her ear:
"Wasn't there just a bit of love in this?"
She shook her head vigorously and then
began to sob quietly.
"Go back to the house, Janine," Jean snapped.
"John, say your last good-byes to your
brother." John watched as Janine left and
disappeared into the house.
Jean turned to William who had remained off
to the side. "Say good-bye. You are brothers."
William reached his hand out to John, and
gripped it more firmly than usual. "Keep a
Claude Cueni
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39
good eye on my property, little brother," he
grinned. William tried to kick him, but John
quickly stepped back. "If you ever grow up,
I'll challenge you to a duel someday, and if
you win, I'll give you my part of Lauriston
Castle."
Jean stepped between the two squabbling
brothers and ordered John into the coach. "Go
now, John!" she said in a firm voice, as she
reached quickly into his coat pocket and took
out a pack of playing cards.
John turned around in astonishment.
"Mother!" he said, horrified.
"These will stay here, Johnthe cards, the
bad habits, the life of depravity. You'll leave
that all here in Lauriston Castle!" John wanted
to protest, but she just held open the door to
the coach and he had to get on. Then she
handed him an envelope with a letter inside.
"For my cousin, the school chaplain, Reverend
James Woodrow. You will give him this letter
at once when you arrive."
The boy nodded. "Yes, Mother, as you wish."
Then he closed the door. "I'll be back" he
shouted through the open window, looking
back at his brother.
"And then we'll have our duel!" cried William.
John looked over his brother's head as the
coach departed to the tower room and saw
Janine behind the window.
.
Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
40
The last streetlights of Edinburgh disappeared
as the coach passed Baijen Hole, and what
stood before them now was the long trip
overland to a place where there were no
streetlights at night, no coffee houses, no
Janine, and only tiny cubicles and scholarly
books. John felt a lump in his throat. He
wished he had embraced his mother one more
time, he loved her, and he grimaced as he
tried to suppress his feelings. He had to pull
himself together, because if he ever wanted to
be successful in life, neither obscure nor
petty, he first had to be ready to suffer. If
everything was so simple, everyone would be
successful, John reflected, so it was up to him
to be different, to stand out from other
people. Whining would do no good, and the
less he complained and lamented, the easier it
would be. He was prepared to take this path.
A smile crept over his face as he realized with
satisfaction that he had always found the right
words to get whatever he wanted. Looking out
at the dark highway, he thought of Janine.
Then he pulled another deck of cards from his
left boot, dealt the cards into two piles then
picked them up again one by one, alternating
from one pile to the next. He quickly
estimated how many points remained in the
other cards lying face down, and when only
three cards were left he mumbled the total,
then turned the three cards face up. He was
right, twenty-five points -- a ten, a four, and
a queen. "And again," he murmured. He was
determined to dispel his sadness with this
activity. He knew that every pain subsided
Claude Cueni
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41
with time and no grief was forever. Time was
on his side.


























Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
42


"#$%& '()%*+ '%+,- ./-0-1+*-)23$45

Claude Cueni (* 13. Januar 1956 in Basel) is an Swiss author of short fiction, novels,
audio theatre and films.

Life

Claude Cueni was born in Basel in 1956. His native language is French.
Dropped out of school to become a writer. Two dozen temporary jobs, which always
also served to obtain information for writing: a salesman in a gun shop, assistant to a
criminal court, secretary of an Iranian merchant, waiter, baggage porter at a station,
archivist at an insurance company, copywriter at GGK. Ten years without any
success as a writer.
Published his first novel in 1980. Since then he has published crime novels,
radioplays, plays and wrote more than 50 screenplays for film and TV (Tatort,
Eurocops, Peter Strohm, Der Clown, Alarm fr Cobra 11), which were broadcast in
46 countries.
His main work is his monumental 1500-page trilogy about "money, gods and
passion" which tells the history of money.
The first part of this trilogy, "Caesar's Druid", was an international success. The story
of a celtic druid in Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars has been translated into numerous
languages.
The second volume is "The Great Game", released in 2006. In this colorful historical
novel set in 17th century England, France and Italy, Cueni tells the story of John Law
of Lauriston, the man who invented paper money. He was also a mathematical
genius, a masterful gambler, a duelist, murderer, womanizer and lover. But he is best
known as the inventor of modern finance and architect of the most catastrophic
financial crash in history. At the height of his career, Law was an advisor to the the
King of France, Louis XIV, The Sun King, and also owner of the Mississippi
Corporation, with vast holdings in the Americas, and thus the wealthiest man of his
time. The book has been translated into 13 languages including Chinese.
"Gehet hin und ttet" is the third and final volume of the trilogy and has been
published in 2008. The thriller is about the current global financial crisis. All three
volumes are self-contained. In "Caesar's Druid" money is made of metal, in "The
Great Game" money is made of paper and in "Gehet hin und ttet" money is virtual.
In addition to his literary activities Cueni was CEO of Black Pencil AG. Black Pencil
AG developed the first interactive TV format in Europe in 1991. A worldwide hit was
the anti-AIDS-game "Catch the Sperm" in 2001 (together with Andreas Seebeck and
Ingo Mesche).
2006 Director of Federal Office of Culture, Department television dramas 2007
Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
43
Member of the Advisory Board of a listed company in Hong Kong 2008 death of his
first wife after 14 years of cancer. 2009 Cueni suffers from leukemia since then 2010
Marriage to Dina Ariba from Philippines 2013 Historical novel "Der Henker von Paris"
2014 Autobiographical novel "Script Avenue" 2015 Historical novel "Giganten"

Bibliography
Ad acta, novel, 1980 ISBN 3-7941-2047-7
Weisser Lrm, novel, 1983 ISBN 3-596-22853-0
Schneller als das Auge, novel, 1987 ISBN 3-404-15195-X
Der vierte Kranz, novel, 1989/2005 ISBN 3-404-15341-3
Theater (bundled with a play of Woody Allen), 1991 ISBN 3-596-10717-2
Csars Druide, novel, 1998 ISBN 3-453-16095-9 (New title Das Gold der Kelten
ISBN 978-3-85787-446-8)
Das groe Spiel, novel, 2006 ISBN 3-453-26529-7
Gehet hin und ttet, novel, 2008 ISBN 978-3-453-26594-3 (New title Der Bankier
Gottes ISBN 978-3-85787-442-0)
Der Henker von Paris, novel, 2013 ISBN 978-3-85787-433-8
Script Avenue, novel, 2014 ISBN 978-3-03763-043-3

Film
screenwriting
1986: Der Millionenfund, SRG
1987: Der Astronaut
1987: Kampf ums Glck
1988: Lucas lt gren
1989: Peter Strohm, Die Mondscheinmnner
1989: Peter Strohm, Strohms Partner
1990: Peter Strohm, Roulette
1993: Peter Strohm, Fair Play
1993: Peter Strohm, Babuschka
1988: Eurocops 1: Tote reisen nicht
1988: Eurocops 2: Honig der Nacht
1988: Eurocops 3: Falken auf Eis
1989: Eurocops 4: Gerechtigkeit fr Elisa
1989: Eurocops 5: Taxi ins Jenseits
1990: Eurocops 6: Die Ratte
1990: Eurocops 7: Desperados
1990: Auf der Suche nach Salome, 6-Teiler
1992: Tatort, Tod einer alten Frau
1995: Alarm fr Cobra 11, pilot + series bible
1996: Der Clown, pilot + series bible




Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
44
Theatre
1984: Longitudinalstudie, Basler Theater
1985: U2 oder die Katastrophe sind wir, Bhnen der Stadt Bonn
1990: Tie Break fr Crazy Horse, Neumarkt Theater Zrich

Audio
1982: Ohne Preis kein Fleiss, WDR, NDR, SRG
1982: Das andere Land, WDR
1983: Die Klon Affre, SRG
1986: Parkgarage, SRG
1987: Sprechstunde, SRG, WDR
1990: Fax, SRG
1991: Die Briefe von Crazy

Television Review on youtube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVwHy1Z6vIc

Author: www.cueni.ch

About Lee Chadeayne (Translation)
Lee Chadeayne is a former classical musician, college teacher of German, and
owner of a language translation company in Massachusetts.
He is accredited by ATA for translations from German into English (as well as English
into German) and also translates from French. He was one of the charter members of
the American Literary Translators Association and has been an active member of the
American Translators Association since 1970.
He presently serves as a copy editor for the American Arthritis Society newsletter
and is a past editor of The Chronicle (official publication of the American Translators
Association) and editor of the ALTA News of the American Literary Translators
Association.
His translated works to date are primarily in the areas of music, art, language,
history and general literature.
Recent publications:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_2?ie=UTF8&field-author=Lee+Chadeayne&search-
alias=books&text=Lee+Chadeayne&sort=relevancerank

Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
45

Interview with Cueni for italian and spanish newspapers



Q: What is the historic significance of John Law?
A: John Law was definitely the greatest financial genius of all time. His idea to use
paper to make money was a revolutionary concept at the time. In those days, a coin
had exactly the value of the metal it was made of. And then, all of a sudden, John
Law suggested that a worthless piece of paper was supposed to have some real
value. That was very odd indeed. It was revolutionary and way ahead of time.
Q: What makes John Law typical of his period? What made hime unique?
A: He is the prototype for the new man on the brink to the period of Enlightenment.
He questioned and reinvented everything. He was a radical non-conformist. He even
designed his own clothes. As a Protestant he lived with a married Catholic woman
who gave birth to their two bastard children. Whatever he chose to do, he did with
amazing passion and perseverance. He was a man of action and he became the
wealthiest man of his time.
Q: How do you explain his success?
A: It takes more than a single quality to be really successful. John Law wasn't only a
brilliant mathematician and a genius of finances. Like Julius Cesar, he was also
capable of taking quick decisions and very high risks. He was handsome and
charismatic. And he was a passionate lover, a collector of art and he was capable of
compassion and sympathy for the poor.
Q: John Law was also a gambler. Was he an addict?
A: John Law wasn't just an ordinary gambler. His skills in gambling were
extraordinary. He played cards like no other, but he used his abilities mostly to prove
Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
46
his theories. He gambled scientifically. Addicted gamblers, on the other hand, are
weak and unstable. They don't realize that their losses are the casinos profits.
Casinos can only be built so luxuriously because so many idiots go there every night
to hand over their money to them.
Q: So, what was the scientific purpose of Laws gambling?
A: Let's not forget that all economic theories are based on game theories. Insurance
companies, for instance, work with the same calculus of probabilities that are also
used by professional gamblers. Its the same thing. Its mathematics. In real life it can
be used for both economics, and pleasure. The results are often the same disaster.
Q: Clearly, John Law was up against a lot of resistance. How did he manage to
persevere?
A: People with his passion don't have a choice. Actually, it's how I work myself (which
explains why I find it so easy to understand someone who is completely obsessed
with an idea). You know, I have been writing without much success for ten years. But
it never bothered me. Basically, it's like a game: You play to win. Earning money is a
side-effect. Consider football. You go on the lawn to score goals, not to make money.
Q: Did John Law have any rivals in terms of economic genius? Was there anybody
like him during his lifetime?
A: No, I don't think so.
Q: Was he aware of how profound an influence his ideas would have?
A: Yes, John Law had a very clear idea of how he was going to reduce poverty and
suffering in Europe. He made very precise plans and they worked.
Q: What were John Laws weaknesses?
A: He was more concerned with his ideas than the money he actually made. For him,
money was only a commodity that he was planning to use in his fight against poverty
in Europe. He was an idealist and a visionary on the very brink to the period of
enlightenment. His biggest problem, however, was that he was ahead of his time.
Q: Which were his mistakes?
A: The one thing he had neglected was the human factor, the madness of the
crowds. But, most of all, he couldnt control the Prince Regents lack of discipline. Out
of pure greed this man clandestinely ran the printing machine and flooded the market
with money which, in the process, lost its value.
Q: So, we mustnt blame John Law for the economic collapse of his country? After
all, he was the minister of finance.
A: No, John Law must not be blamed for the countrys decline. His theories were
correct and worked well. It was the Prince Regent, the Duc dOrleans, who
suffocated the country and ruined its economy by overspending and printing too
Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
47
much money. Actually, you could draw a line to the decline of the US Dollar today.
The more money the Americans print (to pay far too expensive programs) the higher
their inflation.
Q: Was John Law the first man to be involved with an economic mega-crash?
A: No, economic turbulences were not new. When Julius Caesar flooded the Roman
market with gold that he had looted from the Gauls, the economy collapsed. Probably
the first real economic crash in history was the tulip mania which occured in the
Netherlands in the 1630s. However, during John Laws lifetime the world, for the first
time, witnessed a crash of the stock exchange that would be considered
catastrophic, even against todays standards. It ruined the countrys entire economy.
Q: Are John Laws theories of economics still valid today?
A: Yes, of course. His theory of money is among the most influential ones ever
formulated, even to this day. Our modern world of finances is based on Law's
system, although today's democracies are capable of using more refined methods of
control and guidance to avoid major instabilities. Even the whole idea of trading in
options, puts and calls, derives from John Law's laboratory of ideas.
Q: Can you compare John Laws world to ours? What is different, what has remained
the same?
A: If you look at everyday life of that period very carefully, youll see that generally
speaking, things seem to improve. Today, Western Europeans are whining on a very
high level of comfort and luxury. But those of us who have spent some time in Asia,
will get a better idea of what life looked like 300 years ago in Europe. There are no
health insurances in Asia, no public welfare, no support for the jobless. The mortality
rate of young children is high and people mostly get married to secure their material
belongings. If you happen to be unlucky, you dont get a second chance. Nobody
cares. In Asia today, life is very much like it was for John Law in Europe.
Q: John Law said that you dont have to adore money in order to earn it. Was he
correct?
A: Yes, of course. My son claims that he's never met a person less interested in
money than me but I always manage to bring home enough money. I think the only
thing that counts to be successful is passion.
Q: How did you come across this story?
A: It was my son who brought my attention to the character of John Law. He first
came across the name when he was reading the memoirs of Duc de Saint Simon.
Q: Where you also inspired by the writings of other adventurous characters of the
period, like Casanove, for example?
A: No, not really. Ive mostly been interested in the life of a man who, to the great
surprise of his contemporaries and against considerable resistance, invented money
made of paper. But Ive also been fascinated by John Law, the Casanova, the
Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
48
gambler and the convicted duellist who was sentenced to death but continued to
become the worlds wealthiest man, a mathematical genius and a popstar for the
world of finances. There are so many sides to his personality, its really fantastic. I
find it hard to understand why today everybody knows about Casanova, but hardly
anybody has ever heard the name of John Law.
Q: What can we learn from John Law, the character?

A: When my book had come out in Germany many readers wrote to me that it
had encouraged them and given them strength to suffer through difficult times
and sudden periods of grief in their lives. Many wrote to say how it helped them
to attempt something they had thought would be impossible. For me, John Law
was exemplary because he never gave up. When I was writing the book, my wife
knew that she was going to die soon. Every morning she said she would stop her
chemotherapy if I didn't continue writing the novel. So, I continued and finally
finished it. It was to be the last book my wife read. Then she died. In my book I
wrote about the poverty and the suffering of people during the 18th century.
Many of my readers have recognized that they are reading the book of an author
who has undergone terrible suffering and pain himself, but who struggled on and
kept going.
!

Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
49

Claude Cueni THE GREAT GAMBLER (Das grosse Spiel)
A summary of excerpts from the german press

Cueni is the shooting-star on the hot market for historical novel. His gripping
thriller about the invention of paper money is a highlight of the genre.
(Sonntagszeitung)
The book that can do everything. Simply great.. I love Cueni. His sharp mind, his
precision, his curiosity are just plain fun, his sense of humour combined with his
superb sovereignity and his Helvetic dryness are endearing.
(Weltwoche)
To educate, to entertain and to move this is Claude Cuenis motto. (...)
Readers will see how learning can become sexy: when it is wrapped in thrilling
stories of money, power and chronic movements of the loins.
(Der Stern)
Do you know Claude Cueni? No? But he is the most successful Swiss author.
Skillfully, Cueni writes about the New Economy of the 18th century. "The Great
Game" is an exciting tale of how a bankrupt society sets out on a jorney to find a
new economical order.
(Swiss Television SF1)
At refreshingly fast pace, the author tells an exiting episode in the history of
economy for reading pleasure in a chair on the beach.
(Wirtschaftswoche)

Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
50
Told fluently, easy to read, this is great reading with a lot of historical facts and
brilliant dialogues. Cueni knows how to develop suspension and how to keep it ...
to the last page.
(Facts)
You simply must read this!
(Radio Basilisk)
Its The Perfume of money and the historical novel of this season.
(Sonntagsblick, Zurich)
A gripping thriller.
(Star TV)
A brilliant masterpiece!
(histo-couch.de)
A great achievement. Skillfully told and gripping to read.
(Schweizer Familie, pick of the week)
Swiss writer Claude Cueni has penned a thrilling novel along the historical facts
of the life of the financial genius, gambler and lover John Law. Powerful in its use
of language and often explicit in its descriptions, this book depicts the unique
period of change at the brink to Enlightenment. Cuenis novel combines historical
fact, the theory of economics and a wild tale of adventure to achieve perfect joy
of reading.
(Handelsblatt, Duesseldorf)
Bankers are boring and financial derivatives a curse of modern times? Those
who thinks so should read THE GREAT GAME. (...) Never has the history of
todays financial system been told as excitingly as here.
Claude Cueni
Mail: claude@cueni.ch Webpage: www.cueni.ch
51
(Welt am Sonntag, Hamburg)
Suspensful and rich in links to the world of today.
(Focus, Munich)
A successful mix of fiction and historical facts and an exciting study of genius,
madness, human greatness and stupid vice.
(NDR/ARD, German TV)
Highly readable and at the same time a great description of what it must have
been like to be living 300 years ago.
(Bilanz, Zurich)

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