After this second reading, I’m forced to change my entire opinion on this book. This was my introduction to Dostoevsky, so I didn’t know what to expect at first. And also, I heard that this is not one of his best works. All must have influenced my perspective on the book. But after falling in love with Dostoevsky, I wanted to revisit the book to see if I had done justice to it. On this revisit, I have to admit that I have under-appreciated the book.
It is an interesting story. It talks about addiction, obsession, frustration, anger, arrogance – the human vices that threaten the sanity and peace of the human mind.
The story’s protagonist is Alexey Ivanovitch, a tutor by profession and a gambling addict. His addiction coupled with his obsession for Polina makes him an emotional slave which slowly leads to his ruin.
I enjoyed Dostoyevsky’s psychological portrait of the main protagonist Alexey. His conflicting emotions, wavering between his addiction and obsession was so thoroughly and accurately described. Dostoyevsky’s own gambling addiction must have helped him with such accuracy. It made the character real and earn the readers’ sympathy. Even with the other characters, Dostoyevsky does a wonderful job of bringing out their characteristics and emotions so well. Polina’s enigmatic self, Blanche’s shallowness, De Grier’s cunning nature, the General’s depression coupled with his obsessive love, and even Mr. Astley’s steadfastness adds much variation to the story.
The ending is vague but promising. Dostoevsky paints a hopeful picture for Alexey implying his recovery and finding love and affection in Polina.
Overall, I enjoyed this interesting short work by Dostoevsky. That he is one of the greatest storytellers in the literary world, is an undeniable truth.