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The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Gambler (1867)

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,611332,294 (3.8)38
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» See also 38 mentions

English (18)  Italian (4)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All (33)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
A book I bought and read many years ago, when I went to university. This book was part of the reading list and I enjoyed it a lot. Not sure as to when exactly I read it, I add a fictional date, that lies in that period. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 27, 2018 |
I read this as a preparation for seeing the opera version by Prokofiev. The story deals with a tutor, Alexis, who discovers the compulsion of gambling in a casino in Germany. I found it somewhat boring since none of the characters are interesting except for the grandmother. She goes hog-wild for gambling and gambles away a major fortune. ( )
  M_Clark | Mar 12, 2016 |
As typical of Dostoyevsky, a very good novel. A good look at gamblers; though the novel doesn't truly cover gambling as much as I thought it might - given Dostoyevsky's gambling nature. Working as a dealer in a casino I definitely identify (through customers) the habits, mindsets, and thoughts of 'the gambler'. The novel only details roulette and doesn't go into the numerous other games (blackjack, craps, etc), but it's still poignant - perhaps moreso with it being jut roulette which is even more 'chance based' than say blackjack, or pai gow, or Mini-Bac, etc.It's a short, good novel(la?) that shows how gamblers are, how we all gamble on love/life/money/etc, and the ability for any person - sane person or otherwise - to get caught up in the thrill of gambling, or love. Addendum - (edit add) - I will say the proposed outline sounds more interesting than the novel turned out to be, but thats not truly a bashing on the novel, just a thought and notice. ( )
  BenKline | Dec 21, 2015 |
I was disappointed by this short book. Unlike other short works such as Notes from the Underground and The Ridiculous Man, which were witty, concise and often incredibly entertaining, The Gambler seemed dated and routine.

On a positive note, the grandmother's character's was a highlight, and sections on the appeal of the roulette wheel were well done. Nonetheless, the majority of characters were simply not particularly engaging, nor was the story line memorable.

A decent read, however Dostoevsky has many far better works. ( )
  la2bkk | Oct 14, 2013 |
I feel a little cheated by this book. The back cover states the book “offers a grim and psychologically probing picture of the fatal attractions of gambling.” For such a small book, I expected a quick deep dive into the throes of gambling sooner than later, becoming lost in all its negativity from start to end. Not quite.

The book begins with a somewhat whiny Alexey Ivanovitch, a trilingual tutor for a formerly wealthy Russian General, playing roulette for the first time because his unrequited love (we are led to believe), Polina Alexandrovna, stepdaughter of the general, asked him to play for her and to win. He notes the gentlemanly way of winning, and more importantly losing. “A real gentleman should not show excitement even if he loses his whole fortune. Money ought to be so much below his gentlemanly dignity as to be scarcely worth noticing.” But the control of gambling creeps in unconsciously. Alexey notes, “… I ought to have gone away, but a strange sensation rose up in me, a sort of defiance of fate, a desire to challenge it, to put out my tongue at it. I laid down the largest stake allowed – four thousand guldens – and lost it.”

Alexey isn’t the only love sick puppy in the book. The General pines for Mlle. Blanche, who is willing to marry the General because of his title, pension, and pending inheritance from his Aunt Antonida – “Granny”. The General’s lovesickness provided some of the humor, crying for his love and soothed like a baby. There’s also a Mr. Astley, a wealthy Englishman, who desires Polina and becomes her confidante. Granny was by far the best character. Direct and cantankerous, her mind is sharp and she sees people clearly.

Through his characters, Dostoyevsky doled out the perspectives of Russians and the cultural stereotypes from the early 1800’s. The Poles are the leeches that hang about the gambling table, making unwanted suggestions and awaiting opportunities to steal winnings. The Jews are the shrewd, advising the winning gamblers to get up and leave – before they lose it all. I quinched a bit reading these repeated negative stereotypes, reminding myself it’s normal back then.
On Russians and On Frenchman:
“Why, am I to model myself upon our Russians here? They sit, not daring to open their lips, and almost ready to deny they are Russians.”
“A Frenchman is not often naturally polite. He is always polite, as it were, to order, with a motive. If he sees the necessity for being fantastic, original, a little out of the ordinary, then his freakishness is most stupid and unnatural, and is made up of accepted and long-vulgarized traditions. The natural Frenchman is composed of the most plebeian, petty, ordinary practical sense…”

If I were to expand the definition of gambling (and its implied addiction) beyond money onto love and life, then Dostoyevsky tells a much more interesting story. Alexey exhibits a callousness towards love and life. (hmm, perhaps that’s the whole point of gambling addiction.) Does one declare love with the following?
To Polina: “You are hateful to me, just because I’ve allowed you to take such liberties, and even more hateful because you are so necessary to me.”
“…I answered for the hundredth time that I hated her. Yes, she was hateful to me. There were moments (on every occasion at the end of our talks) when I would have given my life to strangle her! I swear if it had been possible on the spot to plunge a sharp knife in her bosom, I believe I should have snatched it up with relish…”

Mr. Astley summed up gambling the best – to Alexey: “You have not only given up life, all your interests, private and public, the duties of a man and a citizen, your friends (and you really had friends) – you have not only given up your objects, such as they were, all but gambling – you have even given up your memories. I remember you at an intense and ardent moment of your life; but I am sure you have forgotten all the best feelings you had then; your dreams, your most genuine desires now do not rise above pair, impair, rouge, noir, the twelve middle numbers, and so on, I am sure!”

All in all, not bad. ( )
1 vote varwenea | Aug 10, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (100 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dostoevsky, Fyodorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aplin, HughTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliasberg, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glas, PeterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heijne, BasAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laín Entralgo, JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
López-Morillas, JuanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mes, MadeleineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nötzel, KarlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Samuelson, BengtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Por fin estaba de regreso, después de dos semanas de ausencia.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0486290816, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:26 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"In this short novel, Fyodor Dostoevsky tells the story of Alexey Ivanovitch, a young tutor working in the household of an imperious Russian general. Alexey tries to break through the wall of the established order in Russia, but instead becomes mired in the endless downward spiral of betting and loss. His intense and inescapable addiction is accentuated by his affair with the General's cruel yet seductive niece, Polina. In The Gambler, Dostoevsky reaches the heights of drama with this psychological portrait."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1907832548, 1907832556

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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