5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Absolutely brilliant, which is quite in line with Fyodor's other works. Fascinating characters are presented in a very skillful way. The Granny character is particularly brilliant. Be prepared for the nuances of the authors style, though. Remember, this is Russian literature. It is very dialog-centered and character-focused. If you haven't read anything by Fyodor, please...
Published on May 3 2008 by Mark Nenadov
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for a month's writing (or is that typing?)
SYNOPSIS: The novel centers around the career of a natural gambler named Alexei, who, as a tutor in the household of a certain Russian General, is infatuated with two things: the roulette and Paulina, the General's high-spirited niece. The manifold intrigues of all other characters - directly or indirectly - center around the awaited death of the General's aunt, an aged...
Published on Dec 10 2002 by PseudoDionysius
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
This review is from: The Gambler (Paperback)Absolutely brilliant, which is quite in line with Fyodor's other works. Fascinating characters are presented in a very skillful way. The Granny character is particularly brilliant. Be prepared for the nuances of the authors style, though. Remember, this is Russian literature. It is very dialog-centered and character-focused. If you haven't read anything by Fyodor, please go read Brothers Karamazov first. That is not to diminish this book, but just to mention that first things should be first. Basically, you want to try to understand Fyodor as an author a bit before you plunge into this one. You'll get a lot more from it if you do that.
5.0 out of 5 stars The loser takes it all,
This review is from: The Gambler (Paperback)Fyodor Dostoyevsky is not an easy writer --well, which Russian author can be called easy? -- but once you get into his books, it is difficult to put it down. One of the best ways to be introduced to his works is the short --and even funny-- novella 'The Gambler'. Working with fiction and reality, this is an addictive novel.
As the story goes, a gambler himself Dostoyevsky had been paid by his publisher and had a writer's block therefore couldn't write anything. He hired a stenographer to help him. So she did, and they ended up falling in love. And the world received one of the best novellas ever. On a lighter note, in 2003, this story was updated in a movie called 'Alex & Emma'. While it is a great plot, the film didn't succeeded for many reasons. On the other hand, there is a movie version, also called 'The Gambler', made in 1997, with Michael Gambon and directed by Károly Makk that is much closer to the novel and much better.
The book tells the story of a compulsive gambler named Alexey Ivanovitch that while in a German spa casino gets involved with a couple of people, and has the greatest gamble of his life. Alexey will find love and hate, friends and enemies and will learn a lesson he will never forget. To tell more is to spoil all the fun of discovering all the twists in this amazing book.
As someone who knows what he is writing about, Dostoyevsky paints a vivid portrait not only of Alexey but also of the casino and its gamblers. People win and lose in the question of minutes, and the more they lose the more obsessed they are. Just like life.
Dostoyevsky's prose is crafted and beautiful. This is one of the aspects that make this book so timeless. The other one that the novella deals with human nature, and it nave loses interest --no matter when or where. The human soul is the same everywhere. So are our wishes and failures. And to write about it, Dostoyevsky is first among equals.
5.0 out of 5 stars Existential Delight,
This review is from: The Gambler (Paperback)Brilliant, emotionally twisted novel with subdued observations and madly intoxicating behaviors.
Souls are bared and hidden,feelings are life threatening and questions are unasked.
This is a different Dostoevsky,with the same amazing sweeping sheer power of writing but exploded in your face rather than carrying you along the minefield!
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for a month's writing (or is that typing?),
This review is from: Gambler (Paperback)SYNOPSIS: The novel centers around the career of a natural gambler named Alexei, who, as a tutor in the household of a certain Russian General, is infatuated with two things: the roulette and Paulina, the General's high-spirited niece. The manifold intrigues of all other characters - directly or indirectly - center around the awaited death of the General's aunt, an aged and wealthy Russian landowner who is expected to leave behind a considerable inheritance. In a sense, everyone is gambling. The story reaches a small climax when this landowner pays a surprise visit to the General. In the commotion that follows, Alexei is forced to make a choice between his two loves.
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding concerning this novelette by Dostoyevsky. Many straightforwardly equate Alexei with Dostoyevsky, and Paulina with Apollinaria Suslova, his one-time cruel mistress. But this is overhasty because there seems to me a crucial difference between Alexei and the author. Namely, the author was wracked by guilt and remorse after every debacle at the roulette table. Alexei had no such compunction. He is truly a natural gambler; throughout the novel we see him taking wild risks, for example, telling Paulina that he would throw himself from the Schlangenberg with her slightest approval. His love of gambling is less a desire to get rich - indeed he seems to shrug off his winnings as nonchalantly as his losses - or a means of building his self-esteem, but more about "an uncontrollable urge to stick my tongue at it [Fate]," (pg. 40) or plain thrill-seeking: "he feels the need for stronger and stronger ones" (pg. 147). What's particularly painful is that even though he has momentary insights into the true root of his addiction, his self-analysis on the whole is about as farcical as his "theory" of roulette. And this will become very apparent with his treatment of Paulina.
Paulina's motives are more nebulous and deserve some explaining. Hysteria and extreme irrational behavior often stems from excessive pride in Dostoyevsky's psychoanalysis. This is true especially of Mme Epanchina and her daughter Aglaya in "The Idiot", certainly Katerina Ivanovna in C&P, and is a favorite theme of Dostoyevsky's. In the case of Paulina, she particularly resents having any monetary value attached to her person. This loathing has it roots in Des Grieux's reluctance to marry her without dowry. It also explains why she turns down Grandmother's generous offer, and, of course, the culminating scene with Alexei. This would help to explain some of the puzzling outbursts.
Of the novel as a whole, there are pros and cons. The whole atmosphere of the novel is much lighter than the usual miasma of nerve-wracking gloom. Alexei's little fling with Blanche, sort of an upper-class call-girl, has some unexpectedly simple tenderness that's rare in his novels (usually they are more melodramatic or heightened). You can certainly get a chuckle out of Alexei's audacity elsewhere, particularly when he plays a pretty brutal prank on an extremely uptight German baron. Certainly, there are enough humorous anecdotes to keep a reader's attention.
But what I find less appealing is the focus of this novel on nationality. As many people have noted, this is the most cosmopolitan of all his novels and yet this may be the one that presents his xenophobic stereotypes in a glaring manner. Alexei and the British Mr. Astley claim an innate gambling streak in the Russian national character. Whatever the truth of the claim, this at least has anecdotal value when Alexei contrasts this with a satirical view of the "German Idol" when he claims that he refuses "to consider myself as an instrument for the accumulation of capital."(pg.45). But in the process both the Russian and German character is heavily caricatured. On top of this, there's Des Grieux, an all-too-generic French villain of the sarcastically polite type, and the slanderous manhandling of the Poles and Jews. The undesirable sum effect of all of these is that it detracts from the psychology not only of the gambler, but of the other characters. My opinion is that his rampant xenophobia had prevented Dostoyevsky from properly fleshing out his characters. Personally speaking, the drama of clashing psychologies is what I relish in reading Dostoyevsky.
In conclusion, the novel is entertaining enough to read and comes with a good introduction. But it is impossible for anyone to resist the temptation of comparing it with his other output. Even if you reject his acknowledged masterpieces for its larger volume, there's still the luminous "White Nights", the masterly "Eternal Husband" and of course the revolutionary "Notes from Underground" to consider. To be very frank, life is too short: you're better off reading any of the above three unless you've read them already.
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm a Gambling Man,
This review is from: The Gambler (Paperback)The hero of this book is complicated, a lover and compulsive. His obsession quite possibly stemming from his granmother who too, was a gambler in her day. As well, I strongly believe that this work is partially biographical, leaning on the life that Dostoyevsky led himself.
The light and energy that feeds from the words to your minds is incredible. The meloncholy man seems to light up when in the sounds and horrors, as the Russian Roulette plays before.
As the book follows his life, one cannot but help feel sorry for him, and loat him simultaneously. Reading this can make one wonder why people fall into this intoxication, however, completely understand gamblings grand appeal.
This was my first Dostoyevsky and thus started my love affair with him. The book is witty, charming, dark, tragic and passionate. A wonderful, well recommended read.
5.0 out of 5 stars For adults only?,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gambler (Paperback)I can only wonder what I, myself, would have made of this
terrifically funny and sarcastic novel, as a fifteen-year-
old, when I was reading bigger novels by Dostoevsky.
Jeez, it was never like this!
I wonder if it was an accident that our teachers never put this
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking!..,
This review is from: The Gambler (Paperback)One of Dostoyevsky's masterpieces:
Shows all the human feelings in a triangle of love - greed & passion.
5.0 out of 5 stars God as Lady Luck,
This review is from: The Gambler (Paperback)The Gambler is primarily a book about obssession and mania, a topic that Dostoyevsky would go on to further explore using criminal, political and religious themes as a backdrop. The God in the gambler is not Christ, but Lady Luck and her spinning ways at the roullette wheel. This book written while FD was majorly in debt due to gambling losses explores his need to gamble. Moreover, it is a book that contains some of Dostovesky most memorable tertiary characters. Alexi the narrator is a young tutor and part of a Russian general's entourage in a Riviera. He falls in love with the General's neice, who is constantly tormenting, taunting and pathologically luring him. She makes Alexi, who is not only a compulsive gambler, but an impulsive cretin commit "unspeakable" acts to bourgeoise and lesser royalty in public.... Alexi's desperate failure to win the niece's attention's is marked by his increasing need to gamble his pitous funds. But Lady Luck does smile on Alexi for a while (although he is so agitated he doesn't know it), before taking everything away from him: money, love and his meager Russian pride. The novel sees the disintegration and paradoxic increased euphoria of Alexi's character, until he is at the end so depraved that one wonders what keeps him from going mad. It is, of course, the brilliance of the book. Gambling, which is his undoing, is also his ultimate salvation, his wheel spinning, silver ball bouncing hope. The more depraved Aleci becomes the more manic and inspired the prose becomes with Dostoyevsky's frenetic brilliance making the best of us get itchy palms. At the end you yourself will want to hit the roullette wheel with an inspiration that can only come from the poisoned and infectious mind of a religious man and great writer who once viewed God not as the Arbiter of Good and Evil and Creator of Worlds, but God as a roll of dice, a deal of the cards and a most terrible and remorseless spin of the wheel.
Although most people consider this book a minor work, it is Dostoyevsky at his inspired best. While it doesn't have the profound (and morbid) philosophy of Notes from the Underground, it has incredible characterization and a humorous, dramatic narrative
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gambler,
This review is from: The Gambler (Paperback)A great story dealing with the pschological harm and injury that a is the result of compulsive gambling by an intelligent individual. I would like to purchase the movie version in which Gregory Peck played the leading role.
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambition and delusion,
This review is from: Gambler (Paperback)This novel traces the family intrigues and passionate affairs of a group of Russians in Germany. A great character, the Grandmother, is surrounded by potential heirs who are eagerly waiting for her to die, as all of them make their future depend on her money. Unfortunately, she becomes an addict to gambling, happily throwing away her fortune while the potential heirs get desperate and dismayed. This is a lot of fun, because, with his characteristic irony and dark humor, Dostoevsky digs into their souls and lay them bare for us to see the raw cheapness and lust for money that dominate them. The main protagonist falls prey to the vice of gambling, becoming a real and sick addict. The second part tells the story of his pathetic descent into the hell of vice, and is less funny and more soul-exploring. Certainly not a work of art comparable to "Crime and punsihment" or "The Brothers Karamazov", "The gambler" is nevertheless a very good novel, in the best Dostoevskian tradition: psychological depth, raw exploration of the human soul, dark view on humankind.
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The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Paperback - May 20 1996)
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