By Saraf Ali
This is a Russian classic and translated into English by CJ Hogarth. I read the 200-page Arcturus Publishers edition. Facts reveal that Dostoyevsky wrote this book in a month because of the pressure from his publishers to write something. Dostoyevsky being addicted to gambling turned out to be an inspiration behind the book. This book is not an autobiographical one but there are so many parts of the book which are inspired by the author’s personal experiences.
So, the story is about a young man who is a tutor to a Russian family living in a German town. The head of the family this tutor is working for is a General. He was well off but now he’s having some financial problems. He is indebted to a Frenchman, so this general is looking forward to the death of his grandmother who lives back in Moscow to pay all of his debts to the tutor. Alexei Ivanovitch goes to the gambling house and is placed there on behalf of the niece of the general he is in love with, Polina, and basically does whatever she asks him to do, so this is where the story begins. Later the grandmother pays a visit to the family in Germany.
I do not like gambling and I can understand how addiction can ruin a person’s life so I was hesitant in picking up this book because the name of the book is ‘The Gambler’ but I did pick this up because I have already read ‘Crime And Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and I absolutely loved reading this book. I’m really glad I decided to pick it up because this was a fast-paced book and I really enjoyed reading it.
Dostoevsky describes the insides of the gambling houses perfectly. You can sense his excitement when he is describing the Roulette table. The writing flows so smoothly and the internal turmoil of a gambler and addict is explained perfectly. An interesting part of the story was that people from different nationalities come together in the book. There is a German who nobody likes, a Russian who seems lost, an Englishman who is the most well-spoken of them all, and a Frenchman who nobody likes depicted as the most cunning person in the book.
It was very interesting how these people talked to each other about their nationalities and how they talked about them behind their backs. I really enjoyed the book but I knocked off a star because I did not really like the ending but then there cannot be a satisfactory ending in a gambler’s or an addict’s life unless they get some help. So now, I’ve been through two books by Dostoevsky, “The Gambler” and “Crime and Punishment” which adds to my interest to have his other book “The Brothers Karamazov” on my reading list.
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