Table of contents:

Brilliant Gamblers Of Russia. Mayakovsky, Dostoevsky, Przhevalsky - Great And Terrible
Brilliant Gamblers Of Russia. Mayakovsky, Dostoevsky, Przhevalsky - Great And Terrible

Video: Brilliant Gamblers Of Russia. Mayakovsky, Dostoevsky, Przhevalsky - Great And Terrible

Video: Brilliant Gamblers Of Russia. Mayakovsky, Dostoevsky, Przhevalsky - Great And Terrible
Video: Как произносить имена русских писателей / русских классиков 📚🖊📖 2023, April

Vladimir Mayakovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Nikolai Przhevalsky - to whom would you give the palm among gambling geniuses?

Passion for gambling is a fairly common phenomenon among famous representatives of Russian literature and science. Note that depending on the personality traits of our heroes, the process of game addiction developed and proceeded in different ways.

Vladimir Mayakovsky

The poet Vladimir Mayakovsky went down in cultural history as a reformer of classical poetry and one of the brightest representatives of avant-garde art. But life shows that reformers and avant-gardists rarely turn out to be mentally healthy subjects. In contrast to popular opinion, it can be assumed that Mayakovsky did not commit suicide, but once again played "Russian roulette." Only this time was the last. I finished badly …

In October 1904, Olga told her sister Lyudmila that young Volodya “was terribly carried away by the game of checkers”. They played for stamps, and Volodya has already managed to win a whole album of foreign stamps”(Yangfeldt B., 2016). Thus, already in childhood, the future genius has a dominant character trait - a passion for play.

See also: Ingenious gamers of Russia. Part 1

It should be noted that Mayakovsky almost never played for the sake of money, his fees provided him with a comfortable life. The poet's dependence on the game was of an existential nature, “the search for an answer to the imperative question: yes or no … Mayakovsky played with his friends at tram tickets - who has more sum of numbers; with a companion - who will guess the number of steps or sleepers to the pole. He was fond of billiards more aesthetically - "I grow my eyes" - but if it came to a bet, he played until he won back. Here again the superstition: the losers cannot leave. This means that everything will go downhill in life, continuous losses”. Often "I played heads and tails with myself … In the Brikov house … they played gambling even on the night of the October Revolution" (DL Bykov, 2016).

By the way, even having escaped to Paris in 1922, while Lilya Brik went to museums and dance halls, he spent all the time at the card table. If I found myself on the street, “I still played - in everything that came along the way. One day, returning home from Montmartre, on a house he saw a sign in the form of a golden wreath. “Volodya aptly throws the cane through the hole in the wreath, someone takes the cane and also tries to throw it through the wreath" … The competition is immediately announced, the rules are established, etc. " (Yangfeldt B., 2016).

Mayakovsky's suicide attempts also seemed to be innocuous in nature. He always resorted to "Russian roulette" - a revolver loaded with one cartridge: lucky - unlucky?

The card game is reflected in the works of the poet. The poem "A Cloud in Pants" contains the following lines:

You, disturbed by the thought of one thing -

"I am dancing gracefully" -

look how

I am having fun - an


pimp and a card sharper!

Remembering the unhappy fate and unsuccessful personal life of V. V. Mayakovsky, which largely caused suicide, one cannot but say about the genius giftedness, which does not become smaller from those to which he directed his abilities in recent years.

There is no doubt that Mayakovsky's poetry is autobiographical, with its inherent self-confidence and even brutality. And these are signs of uncontrollable drives.

Mayakovsky knew how not only to win beautifully, but also to spend the winnings beautifully. If the poet was lucky, he went with the company to the most expensive restaurant and treated everyone. And with the rest of the money he bought gifts for Lily Brick.

The diagnosis of pathological addiction to gambling, as well as the presence of genius in Mayakovsky, is beyond doubt

Fedor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky in the forties of the XIX century was fond of playing billiards, reaching major losses and acquaintances with cheaters. As L. P. Grossman notes, "in Siberia, upon leaving hard labor, this dormant passion manifests itself even more decisively."

Memories of his wife about Dostoevsky's addiction to gambling can be inserted without cuts into the chapter of the psychiatry textbook that describes the clinical manifestations of gambling addiction. “At first it seemed strange to me how Fyodor Mikhailovich, with such courage endured in his life so many different sufferings (imprisonment in a fortress, scaffold, exile, the death of his beloved brother, wife), how he does not have enough willpower to restrain himself, to stop on a certain share of failure, not to risk my last thaler … But soon I realized that this is not a simple “weakness of will”, but an all-consuming passion, something spontaneous, against which even a strong character cannot fight. It was necessary to come to terms with this, to look at the passion for the game as a disease against which there is no means."

Here are just a few examples. In 1863, Dostoevsky played roulette in Wiesbaden from 21 to 24 August. This time he not only managed to win a large sum, but, having then lost half of it, stopped and left Wiesbaden in time. He had over five thousand francs in his hands. But he could not take a break from the "game binge". Having moved to Baden-Baden on September 6, “immediately upon his arrival, Fyodor Mikhailovich went to the gambling halls and in two days blew everything he had” (Enko K., Enko T., 2011).

The writer gave nine years of his life to the casino

In August 1865, he wrote to Ivan Turgenev: “It’s five days since I’ve been in Wiesbaden and I’ve lost everything, everything is down to ashes, and the clock, and even in the hotel I have to. I am disgusted and ashamed to bother you with myself … Here's the thing: I appeal to you as a person to a person and ask you for 100 (one hundred) thalers."

In May 1867, Dostoevsky's second wife, Anna Grigorievna, was pregnant. The writer began to prove to her that the previous loss “was caused mainly by his loneliness and excitement. He worried about her, in general, confused her because of the haste and the responsibility he had assumed. But if they could live together where there is a roulette wheel, play without haste, without burying, according to the system … and in June they went to Baden-Baden. They stayed in Baden for five weeks, and she called them nightmarish … Dostoevsky fervently believed that he had a system by which one could win and "turn the wheel of fortune" … A week after his arrival, all the cash was lost and the pawning of things began: every day he was running to the usurers, he wore them a watch, a brooch with rubies and diamonds - his wedding gift to Anna Grigorievna, - his wife's earrings; Then came the clothes, coat, suit,shawl. Once he won four thousand thalers, a fortune, decided to be prudent, gave them to his wife, but every hour he came for a new "cashier" and ran away to the casino. By evening, nothing was left of all the winnings. They moved from the hotel to a pitiful room."

In Baden-Baden, not only Dostoevsky, of course, played roulette, but also many other writers who visited there. For example, Ivan Goncharov, who always played cautiously, "reproached Dostoevsky, why he lost everything, and not half."

A person who plays for fun cannot understand the addiction psychology of a real gamer

Without "thunderstorms and storms," Dostoevsky was suffocating, so maybe the roulette game was one of the spiritual lightning rods? In the spring of 1871, Fyodor Mikhailovich once again lost a large sum of money. “… He never played roulette again and was completely cured of this mania of his, and the cure happened at once, as if it had cut off… The erotic nature of this sudden“healing”is obvious. He no longer needs play as a substitute for unsatisfied sexuality and as a way out of emotional anxiety and melancholy, because his sexual relations with his wife returned to normal and a comparative calmness in the sexual sphere began,”writes critic K. Enko in his study.

Note that after that (in 1877) Dostoevsky's convulsive seizures also stopped and he became more efficient. The writer’s gambling addiction undoubtedly influenced his work.

Recall that Dostoevsky wrote the novel "The Gambler", using his own experience as a gambler, in six weeks to pay off gambling debts, and dedicated it to describing precisely this destructive passion - a rare case in world literature of this level

According to psychiatrists' estimates, 25% of all Dostoevsky's characters are psychologically abnormal to one degree or another. Moreover, the writer most thoroughly depicts in his novels such painful manifestations that he himself suffered. Gambling addiction is included in the list of his diagnoses.

Dostoevsky's name is not immediately associated with something antisocial and illegal. But remember that he was arrested at the age of 28 and sentenced to death, commuted to hard labor. The beginning writer belonged to the most radical members of the Petrashevsky circle, who believed that the problems accumulated in Russia could be resolved only through an uprising.

So in this case, as with Derzhavin and Krylov, there is an evolution from a “state criminal” to a great moralist of his time, from antisocial behavior and dependence on gambling to pronounced manifestations of moralizing. This transformation requires its own psychological and clinical interpretation.

From a psychological point of view, high morality and complete immorality are “two sides of the same coin”. Both of these vectors are present in every person, but their manifestations throughout life are associated with a number of factors. In this series, one can note personal characteristics, the presence or absence of mental pathology, the social environment, the peculiarities of upbringing, family traditions and much more

Nikolay Przhevalsky

For the traveler and scientist Nikolai Przhevalsky, the Spartan education he received at a young age did not pass without a trace. It formed a rude character that unpleasantly amazed many who came across it later.

Public life with its code of conditional rules repulsed him, he did not like theater, he was not interested in fiction. But he was extremely fond of playing cards. He became addicted to it while serving in the Polotsk Infantry Regiment and, "possessing a rare visual memory, often won large sums" (Galperina I. G., Stuchinskaya A. A., 2008).

In Przewalski's case, gambling provided substantial financial support. He played with local merchants and officers and almost always won, he was even nicknamed "the golden pheasant"

But his passion for the game can hardly be called “passion”. It was quite a calculating exercise, almost "work". For example, when he won a thousand rubles, he usually stopped the game in cold blood. And once in the winter of 1868, having won 12 thousand rubles, he said: “Now I can call myself a wealthy person and have myself regardless of service” (Engelgardt MA, 2000).

Undoubtedly, his phenomenal memory helped him in the scientific work of a geographer and naturalist, so it was not without reason that Nikolai Przhevalsky was elected an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences in 1878. The biographer cites such an interesting fact. "After reading the book, he could quote whole pages word for word, and moreover, several years after the book was read."

It is impossible not to note another feature of his personality: the desire for loneliness, which manifested itself from the gymnasium to the last years of his life. The latter trait was most likely associated with his sexual preference disorder. Perhaps, like N. N. Miklukho-Maclay, it was she who pushed Przhevalsky to distant wanderings.

“He was an inveterate vagabond, for whom a settled life was hard labor. No dangers, labors, deprivations could kill the desire to travel in him: on the contrary, it grew and developed, turning into an almost painful passion”(Engelgardt MA, 2000).

Possessing the gift of the goddess Mnemosyne - a phenomenal memory, the traveler devoted his free time either to hunting or to a card game in which he was almost always lucky. Psychiatrists know that one addiction inevitably leads to another


  • Aleksandrov A. L. The True Life of Mademoiselle Bashkirtseva. M.: Zakharov, 2003.
  • Bykov D. L. Thirteenth Apostle. Mayakovsky: Tragedy buff in six acts. M.: Young Guard, 2016.
  • Volgin I. L. "To be born in Russia …" Dostoevsky and his contemporaries: life in documents. M.: Book, 1991.
  • Galperina I. G., Stuchinskaya A. A. Personal life of the great. M.: AST-Press Kniga, 2008.
  • Grossman L. P. Dostoevsky. M.: Young Guard, 1965.
  • Dostoevsky FM Publicism and letters // Dostoevsky FM Complete works in 30 volumes. T. 28. L.: Nauka, 1985.
  • Enko K., Enko T. The Secret Passion of Dostoevsky. The glamor and vices of genius. M.: Yauza; Eksmo, 2011.
  • Engelhardt M. A. N. Przhevalsky. His life and travels // Columbus. Livingston. Stanley. A. Humboldt. Przhevalsky. Biographical narratives. 2nd ed. Chelyabinsk: Ural LTD, 2000. P. 335–407.
  • B. Yangfeldt Headquarters - Life. Vladimir Mayakovsky and his circle / Per. from the Swede. Asi Lavrushi and Bengt Yangfeldt. M.: AST: Corpus, 2016.
  • Lange-Eichbaum W., Kurth W. Genie, Irrsinn und Ruhm. Genie-Mythus und Pathographie des Genies. 6. Aufl. München - Basel: Reinhardt, 1967.

Popular by topic