F. M. Dostoevsky
Alexey Ivanovich, a 25-year-old home teacher, along with the family of the elderly general Zagoryansky – stepdaughter Polina and two young children – lives in a luxury hotel in the German resort of Roulettenburg. Even in Russia, the general laid his estate to a certain Marquise De Grieux and for six months now he is looking forward to news from Moscow about the death of Antonida Vasilievna Tarasevicheva, a sick aunt. Then De Grieux will take over the property of the general, and the latter will receive a large inheritance and marry a young beautiful Frenchwoman, Mademoiselle Blanche, who is in love without love. The French, in expectation of large money, are constantly near the general, a man of narrow mindedness and simple-mindedness, moreover,
About two months ago this beautiful and proud girl wished to make Alexey Ivanovich his friend. Between them established a kind of relationship “slave” and “tormentor”. Educated nobleman, but without means, Alexey Ivanovich is injured by his dependent position – that is why the love for arrogant and unceremonious with him Pauline often mixes with him with hatred. The young teacher is convinced that only money can evoke respect for others, including a beloved girl: “Money is everything!” The only way to find them is to win in roulette. Pauline also needs money, but for the purposes so far incomprehensible to Alexei Ivanovich. She does not believe in the seriousness of the hero’s love, perhaps because his pride is too developed, sometimes reaching the desire to kill a cruel mocker. Yet, at the whim of his master,
In the evening, a scandal erupts. Baron demanded of the general to deprive the place of the impudent “servant”. That rudely croaks Alexei Ivanovich. For
Meeting on the “promenade” Astley, to whom the hero talks about what happened, explains the matter. It turns out that two years ago Mademoiselle Blanche had already spent the season in Rouletenburg. Abandoned by lovers, without money, she unsuccessfully tortured the fate of roulette. Then she decided to charm the baron, for which, on the complaint of the Baroness to the police, she was deported from the city. Now, in an effort to become a general’s wife, Blanche must avoid the attention of Wurmelgels. Continuation of the scandal is undesirable.
Returning to the hotel, Alexei Ivanovich in amazement sees on the porch the newly arrived from Russia “grandmother”, whose death the general and the French are waiting in vain. This 75-year-old “formidable and wealthy landowner and Moscow lady, in the armchair, with paralyzed legs, with imperious-rude manners. Her arrival is a “catastrophe for all”: direct and sincere, the old woman immediately refuses the general in money for his attitude to himself. “History” of Alexei Ivanovich with the Prussian baron, she judges from the standpoint of Russian national dignity: “you do not know how to support your fatherland.” She is concerned about the unenviable fate of Polina and the general’s children; servant for the patriarchal lady is also a “living person.” Disliking the French, she appreciated Astley.
Wanting to see the local attractions, my grandmother tells Alexei Ivanovich to take himself to the roulette table, where he starts to bet and wins a considerable amount in a frenzy.
The general and the French are afraid that his grandmother will lose their future inheritance: they beg Alexei Ivanovich to distract the old woman from the game. However, the same evening she again in the “voxal”. This time the eccentric Muscovite “proproshpilila” all the cash and some of the securities. Repenting of frivolity, she intends to build a church in the “suburbs” and orders immediately to assemble in Russia. But twenty minutes before the departure of the train changes plans: “I do not want to be alive, I’ll recoup!” Alexei Ivanovich refuses to accompany her to the roulette table. During the evening and the next day, my grandmother loses almost all of her fortune.
De Grieu leaves the city; Blanche “tossed” the general away from him, ceasing to even recognize him when he met. From despair, he almost lost his mind.
Finally the old woman leaves for Russia to borrow money from Astley. She still has real estate, and she calls Paulina and her children to her home in Moscow. Convinced of the power of passions, gives a softer voice to the general: “Yes, and that unfortunate man is sinful to me now to blame.”
In the evening, in the darkness, Alexei Ivanovich finds in his room Polina. She shows him a farewell letter to De Grieux. Between her and the Frenchman there was a connection, but without the grandmother’s inheritance, the calculating “Marquis” refused to marry. However, he returned to the general mortgages for fifty thousand francs – Polina’s “own” money. Proud to passion, she dreams of throwing these fifty thousand in the deceptive face of De Grieux. Obtain them should Alexei Ivanovich.
The hero throws himself into the gambling hall. Happiness smiles at him, and he soon brings to the hotel a huge sum – two hundred thousand francs. Even in the “voksale” the former teacher felt “a terrible pleasure of success, victory, power.” The game from the means of self-affirmation and “service” of the beloved turns for him into an independent, all-consuming passion. Even in the presence of Pauline, the player can not take his eyes off the “pile of tickets and bundles of gold” brought by him. The girl is hurt that for Alexey Ivanovich, as for De Grie, other interests are more important than love for her. Gordyachka refuses to accept the “gift” of fifty thousand and spends the night with the hero. In the morning, with hatred, he throws banknotes into the lover’s face and runs away.
Disinterested friend Astley, sheltering the sick Pauline, blames Alexei Ivanovich for not understanding her inner drama and inability to real love. “I swear, I was sorry for Pauline,” the hero echoed him, “but from the moment I touched the gambling table yesterday and began to rake up a bundle of money, my love retreated as if to the second plan.”
On the same day, Blanche easily seduces a wealthy Russian and takes him to Paris. Having seized him with money, she, for the acquisition of name and title, is married to a general who has arrived here. He completely “lost” and agrees to the most miserable role in the calculating and debauched Frenchwoman. Three weeks later, Alexei Ivanovich, without regret about wasted money, leaves his mistress and goes to roulette in Hamburg.
More than a year and a half, he wandered around the “gambling” cities of Germany, dropping sometimes to serve in lackeys and imprisonment for unpaid debt. In it everything “stiffened”.
And then – an unexpected meeting in Hamburg with Astley, who sought out Alexei Ivanovich on behalf of Pauline, who lives in Switzerland with the Englishman’s relatives. The hero learns about the death of his grandmother in Moscow and the general in Paris, and most importantly – about the unfulfilled love of Pauline. It turns out that he was wrong, thinking that she loved De Grieux. Astley regards his friend as a “lost person”, unable, by virtue of his Russian character, to resist destructive passions. “Not the first you do not understand what labor is (I’m not talking about your people.) Roulette is a game primarily Russian.”
“No, he’s wrong, he’s quick and quick about Russians,” thinks Alexey Ivanovich in the hope of “resurrecting” in love with Pauline. You just need to “sustain the character” in relation to the game. Will it?