Review: The Queen of Spades by Alexander Pushkin

Review: The Queen of Spades by Alexander PushkinThe Queen of Spades, and Other Stories by Aleksandr Sergeevich PushkinT. Keane
Amazon|The Book Depository
Pages: 85
Published by Courier Corporation on 1994
Genres: Classic, Short Stories

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), Russia's greatest poet and a versatile writer whose great gifts and profoundly Russian sensibitility influenced all of modern Russian literature, produced short stories that are masterpieces of the craft. Besides the brilliant title story, a cunningly wrought narrative of romance and murder in the 'haute bourgeoisie' of St. Petersburg, this volume includes all five stories originally collected as 'The Tales of the Late P. Belkin'. These include 'An Amateur Peasant Girl,' 'The Shot,' 'The Snowstorm,' 'The Postmaster', and 'The Coffin-maker.'

As a Russian history enthusiast I’m always surprised by the fact that I’ve never read Pushkin, except in short excerpts. The Queen of Spades tells the story of greed and avarice (the insatiable desire for wealth) in a way that can only be told by a Russian literary figure.

A group of military men are gambling and telling stories – all except a German named Hermann, who does not have the luxury to gamble. One solider tells the tale of his grandmother who had a sure bet way to win a game of cards. I didn’t fully understand the rules of the game, but it seems like the winner would guess three specific cards in order and win the hand.

Hermann sees this as a way to end his financial troubles. His plan? To get the grandmother to tell him her secret. He does this by romancing the ward, Lizaveta. The woman eventually divulges her secret through mystical circumstances – three, seven, ace. Hermann plays the cards but loses tricked by his own greed and aravice!

Pushkin delivered in this humerous little tale and I am definitely looking forward to reading more from him. 

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