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The novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky, including the classic Crime and Punishment, secured the great Russian writer an exalted position in the literary pantheon of 20th-century authors. The Gambler stands as one of the literary genius’ most highly regarded shorter works. At the casino in Roulettenburg, Germany, a Russian family awaits word that a wealthy relative from Petersburg has died. But to their dismay, Granny arrives and begins gambling away their inheritance at an alarming rate.
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This is lesser Dostoevsky, both in critical stature and in length. But it is also far more accessible than the longer works. The cast of characters, with the lengthy Russian names and confusing variations, is smaller, the plotting is more straightforward, and the time commitment is more manageable, but you still get the flavor of the master. You can enjoy the book without crib notes from Wikipedia or rewinding to figure out what went on. There are even flashes of humor here and there. It took a while to get used to the narrator, but once I did, the reading was solid. FYI, as with most of the Russian classics, there is untranslated French sprinkled throughout, and the final fifth of the book has more extended passages in French, but (speaking as someone with only the most rudimentary grasp of French) it does not spoil the overall experience.
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- Jerome Armstrong
All around great. One gets the sense that it is a novel given to a stenographer, which it is! A book made for the telling through voice.