The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.
James Bond suddenly knew he was tired. He always knew when his body or his mind had had enough and he always acted on this knowledge. This helped him avoid staleness and sensual bluntness that breeds mistakes.
Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
And so the world was introduced to James Bond and the world in which he resides. These two short paragraphs tell us quite a bit about the character, he is someone firmly aware of and in control of, his senses and life.
He knows himself, he knows his surroundings and is not caught unaware. His environment is oftentimes one of high stress and not for the faint of heart.
The rest of the first chapter of Casino Royale gives us a little more about Bond\’s present assignment. He is at Royale-Les-Eaux. He has been gambling. He thinks about how the Casino committee would describe him and his play. “He had luck. His nerves seem good.” That interests me. None of the other players were described this way, in terms like these, but Bond seems to be projecting those qualities onto himself. Perhaps we all do this when considering what others think of us? Positive or negative?
The chapter goes onto to talk some about Bond’s contact. What his role is, how he got into the business, what his “day job” is and how he is paid. An interesting tidbit is a reference to “Clements, the head of Bond’s department”. I don’t know if we get another reference to this man in the rest of the Bond novels…
Bond goes to his room, after taking various precautions and checks out to make sure his room had not been disturbed (a black hair wedged in a drawer, talcum powder on the handle of the clothes cupboard and the water level of the water in the toilet tank.)then after smoking his 70th cigarette of the day (That’s 3 1/2 packs, kids) Bond retires for the night, gun clenched under his pillow…