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by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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The Gambler brilliantly captures the strangely powerful compulsion to bet that Dostoyevsky, himself a compulsive gambler, knew so well. The hero rides an emotional roller coaster between exhilaration and despair, and secondary characters such as the Grandmother, who throws much of her fortune away at the gaming tables, are unforgettable. The book's publishing history is equally so: Under the pressure of a deadline from an unscrupulous publisher, and with rights to his entire oeuvre at stake, Dostoyevsky dictated the book in less than a month to the star pupil of Russia's first shorthand school. Then he married her.
Dostoevsky's short novel is told in the first person by a young man, Alexei, who is addicted to gambling. Its story of passion and despair is based on Dostoevsky's own experience as a compulsive gambler--but Dostoevsky was able to break away, whereas Alexei vows to quit as soon as he breaks evenan event, it is clear, that will never happen. Like so many other characters in Dostoeveky's novels, Alexei is trying to break through the wall of the established order and the human condition itself. But instead he is drawn into the roulette wheel's vortex.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
Narrated by the character Alexei, who is addicted to gambling, this short novel is based on Dostoevsky's own experiences as a compulsive gambler. Like so many characters in Dostoevsky's novels, Alexei is trying to break through the wall of the established order and the human condition itself but instead he is drawn into the vortex of the roulette wheel.
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