The Gambler

By Fyodor Dostoyevsky
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The Gambler is a short novel by 19th century Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky about a young tutor in the employment of a formerly wealthy Russian general. The novella The Gambler reflects Fyodor Dostoevsky's own addiction to roulette, which was in more ways than one the inspiration for the book: Fyodor Dostoevsky completed the novella under a strict deadline to pay off gambling debts.
The Gambler treated a subject Fyodor Dostoevsky himself was familiar with — gambling. Fyodor Dostoevsky gambled for the first time at the gaming tables at Wiesbaden in 1863. From that time till 1871, when his passion for gambling subsided, Fyodor Dostoevsky played at Baden-Baden, Homburg, and Saxon-les-Bains frequently, often beginning by winning a small amount of money and losing far more in the end...

The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: The first-person narrative is told from the point of view of Alexei Ivanovich, a tutor working for a Russian family living in a suite at a German hotel. The patriarch of the family, The General, is indebted to the Frenchman De Grieux and has mortgaged his property in Russia to pay only a small amount of his debt. Upon learning of the illness of his wealthy aunt, "Grandmother", he sends streams of telegrams to Moscow and awaits the news of her demise. His expected inheritance will pay his debts and gain Madamoiselle De Cominges's hand in marriage...

Alexei is hopelessly in love with Polina and swears an oath of servitude to her. He told her while on a walk on the Schlangenberg (a mountain in the German town) that all she had to do was give the word and he would gladly walk off the edge and plummet to his death. This leads to her asking him to go to the town's casino and place a bet for her. He refuses at first but, when goaded and reminded of his oath of undying love and servility, he succumbs and ends up winning at the roulette table (this was his first experience with the narcotic bliss of gambling). He returns to her the winnings but she will not tell him the reason she needs money. She only laughs in his face. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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