Table of contents:

How Gambling Influenced Nekrasov's Work - Great And Terrible
How Gambling Influenced Nekrasov's Work - Great And Terrible

Video: How Gambling Influenced Nekrasov's Work - Great And Terrible

Video: How Gambling Influenced Nekrasov's Work - Great And Terrible
Video: Inside the brain of a gambling addict - BBC News 2023, March

The heredity of Nikolai Nekrasov (1821–1877) is extremely peculiar and even eccentric. The poet's great-grandfather and grandfather lost several thousand souls of peasants at cards. Nekrasov's father also went to them. However, the son surpassed his father: the second "profession" of the famous poet is a player

“Outwardly brilliant, but mentally abnormal and empty person, who grew up to be a“beautiful savage”. He barely knew how to sign his name and was most of all interested in gambling, women, revelry and hunting,”writes psychiatrist Grigory Segalin about the poet's father.

Although after the ancestors there was nothing to lose, the poet's father was still fond of gambling. In addition, he maintained a serf band and a huge kennel on a small estate

He was famous for his cruel disposition. Bibliographers describe difficult situations in the life of the poet's parents. Here is just one of them: “Mother“covered”Nikolenka's games with the village children, although everything became known from the“headphones”. The husband was “furious”: he would tie his wife, as punishment, to a linden tree, strictly forbidding her to drink, and he himself would go hunting.” The poet's own sister also suffered from affective disorders.

Skeptic with absolute memory

The conclusion of the literary critic Vladislav Evgeniev-Maksimov sounds convincing: "the impressions of childhood, and especially of his youth, made Nekrasov withdrawn, distrustful, in his own mind, set him up very skeptically towards others and instilled in him extreme restraint in the manifestations of everything personal.

Nekrasov inherited practically absolute memory from his ancestors. He remembered all his poems by heart and could reproduce them at any time

But brilliant abilities were negatively affected by the lowered mood background. In the fall of 1832, Nikolai entered the first grade of the Yaroslavl gymnasium, where he soon, in his own words, “fell into phrase-mongering, began to read magazines … wrote satire on his comrades,” and preferred to play billiards.

Due to constant academic failure, he had to leave the walls of the educational institution without completing the fifth grade, in which he "remained even three years."

Hunger test

Nekrasov photo 1
Nekrasov photo 1

S. L. Levitsky. Photo portrait of N. A. Nekrasov

Pessimism accompanied Nekrasov all his life. The young man's sad autobiographical notes date back to 1838–1840, when his father stopped helping him with money because his son “did not join the regiment”.

Nekrasov recalled: “For exactly three years I felt constantly, every day hungry. More than once it got to the point that I went to a restaurant on Morskaya Street, where they were allowed to read newspapers, even though I didn't ask myself anything. You used to take a newspaper for the sake of appearance, and you yourself move a plate of bread to you and eat."

By the mid-forties, Nekrasov's talents helped him achieve success both in poetry and in publishing. However, we must not forget that in the best times he was inexorably pursued by two "psychiatric scourges": depression and gambling addiction.

Depression was exacerbated by periodic suicidal thoughts, and the passion for gambling at cards did not leave him all his life

His beloved Avdotya Panaeva recalls: “… if someone saw him lying in his office for two days in a terrible blues, repeating in nervous irritation that he was sick of everything in life, and most importantly, he was disgusted with himself, then certainly would not envy him."

Poet and Gambler: There Are No Accidents

Over time, poverty has become a thing of the past. Nekrasov's financial situation quickly improved due not only to the publishing "business", but also due to his extraordinary luck in the game. This was no accident.

According to the memoirs of the literary historian Alexander Skabicheskiy, Nekrasov “deliberately sought to profit from these benefits, was constantly on his mind, amazed everyone with his cold practicality and ability to make a penny, sometimes resorting to not entirely plausible actions that made friends resent him and even turn away from him … People with the temperament of Nekrasov are rarely inclined to the quiet joys of family life. They enjoy great success among women, they are happy lovers or Don Juans, but they do not make exemplary husbands and fathers. It is clear that Nekrasov, belonging to this type, did not leave behind offspring. " Pathological inclinations played a negative role in the fate of the poet.

At the age of 33, Nekrasov was diagnosed with syphilis, which, as was expected at the time, was treated with rubbing in mercury ointment

Of course, the presence of such a disease could not in any way raise the mood of Nekrasov, even with fabulous card winnings.

The omnipresent specter of depression

In the early 1850s, it seemed to Nekrasov that his days were numbered. At this time, he wrote poems "I will die soon", "A difficult year", "Shut up, Muse of revenge and sorrow."

The depression continued to grow, which is confirmed by the lines from his letters from 1856-1857: “I have such a melancholy fit that I’m afraid I’ll throw myself into the sea if I go alone and a dashing moment will catch”.

“My physical condition is such that any mental anxiety makes me worthless, I just lose my composure. From a young age I was afraid of death, now I am afraid of life. Disgusting! " "A pistol comes to my mind twenty times a day, and immediately it becomes easier at the thought."

Won a card … wife

Nekrasov photo 2
Nekrasov photo 2

N. A. Nekrasov, 1865

Genius is compatible with many vices, including greed and passion for gambling, but the latter cannot but leave their stain on it. In the mid-sixties, “Nekrasov was left without a magazine, with a badly damaged reputation. His prospects as a publisher were extremely dubious.

In addition, the passion for the card game has become the poet's "second profession". Nekrasov's goal was to accumulate the “coveted million” rubles with the help of his winnings. He began to develop gambling addiction.

Over the years, the hereditary passion for the game of cards did not pass, but he became the first in the family who did not lose. The poet was helped by his incredible memory.

It's hard to believe, but even his second wife, Zina, the poet won at cards

She was the kept woman of a certain merchant who, having lost, offered her to the poet as a debt.

Tandem of addiction and creativity

Nekrasov's passion for cards took on rampant proportions after the final parting with Avdotya Panaeva in 1864. In a few letters of those years, he complained that he played too much and that the game did not give him the opportunity to do business … Maps, not a magazine, fed him and nourished his publishing activities.

It is natural to assume that such a gambling addiction should have left its mark on Nekrasov's work. One of the biographers suggests that “hunting and cards, which N. A. Nekrasov indulged in with some kind of unbridled passion, were, to a greater extent, one of the ways to get rid of melancholy, distract from it. Even creativity itself to a large extent served these goals”(Milyavsky VM, 1993).

After a successful hunt, as well as after a card game, Nekrasov always worked well

Starting a great poetic work, he "unwound his nerves", playing cards for several nights. This is how the amazing relationship of the creative process with unusual pathologies was manifested.

In 1876, the poet fell seriously ill and underwent a painful operation that only delayed his death. He could sleep only with the help of drugs. Despite suffering, with an inhuman effort of will, he found the strength to compose his "Last Songs" until the last days of his life.

Presumptive diagnoses: cyclothymia; somatogenic monopolar depression; compulsive attraction to a card game.


  • Evgeniev-Maksimov V. E. N. A. Nekrasov in his correspondence // Nekrasov N. A. Collected works in 5 volumes. T. 5. M.–L.: State Publishing House, 1930. S. 7–37.
  • Eryshev O. F., Sprints A. M. Personality and disease in the work of geniuses. 2nd ed. SPb: SpetsLit, 2015.
  • Zaitsev B. K. Dalekoe. M.: Soviet writer, 1991.
  • Kireev R. T. Prisoners of the Muses. How great poets loved. M.: Globulus; ENAS, 2007.
  • Korablev V. N. Nekrasov // Russian Biographical Dictionary. T. 11. St. Petersburg: Imperial Russian Historical Society, 1914. P. 204-212.
  • Makeev M. S. Nikolay Nekrasov. M.: Young Guard, 2017.
  • Milyavsky V. M. N. A. Nekrasov and A. A. Fet: an attempt at comparative pathography // Review of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology. V. M. Bekhterev. 1993. No. 3. P. 171–176.
  • Nekrasov N. A. Letters. 1840-1877 // Collected works in 5 volumes. T. 5. M.–L.: State Publishing House, 1930.
  • Panaeva (Golovacheva) A. Ya. Memories. M.: True, 1986.
  • Segalin G. V. Pathogenesis and biogenesis of great and remarkable people // Clinical archive of genius and giftedness (europathology). 1925. no. 1. Vol. 1. P. 24–90.
  • Skabichevsky A. M. Literary memoirs. M.: Agraf, 2001.
  • Skatov N. N. Nekrasov. M.: Young Guard, 1994.
  • Chukovsky K. I. Nekrasov // Nekrasov N. A. Works in 3 volumes. T. 1. M.: Pravda, 1954. S. 3–48.
  • Yuferev L. A. Demons of Nikolai Nekrasov: the fate and illness of the poet. Pathographic storytelling. Kirov: VESI, 2015.

Popular by topic