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By Fyodor Dostoevsky / William Heinemann / 1914
How does Dostoevsky end his gambling addiction and pay off his debts? In The Gambler, considered Dostoevsky’s reflection of his own addition to gambling, Dostoevsky tells the story of characters who are addicted to gambling and face the brink of destitution and desperation. Life, love, and liberty are sacrificed in the pursuit of roulette. Written to pay off his gambling debts while still in the midst of addition, this novella is a penetrating look at the author’s own quest for freedom and financial security.
This volume comes with two additional novellas of Dostoevsky’s earliest works, Poor People (also known as Poor Folk) and The Landlady, the former of which was also written during a period of gambling addiction.
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Fyodor Dostoevsky was born to minor Russian nobility in 1821. He entered the military academy at age 17. While an engineer in the army, he translated works from French and wrote his first fiction for money on the side. He became a member of the utopian socialist Petrashevsky circle. He was arrested for reading banned political literature and sentenced to death by firing squad in 1849. The execution was stayed at the last moment when a letter arrived from the Tsar pardoning him. Instead, Dostoevsky was exiled to Siberia and four years hard of labor, shackled hand and foot. During his sentence, the only thing he could read was the New Testament. Upon his release, his gambling addiction frequently left him in poverty, and he began a financially tumultuous marriage to his secretary. He died in 1881 after suffering a pulmonary hemorrhage. Together with Tolstoy, he is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential novelist of Russian literature’s golden age.