The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk, and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky

The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk, and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky

by Andrew D. Kaufman

Hardcover

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Overview

A revelatory new portrait of the courageous woman who saved Dostoyevsky’s life—and became a pioneer in Russian literary history

In the fall of 1866, a twenty-year-old stenographer named Anna Snitkina applied for a position with a writer she idolized: Fyodor Dostoyevsky. A self-described “emancipated girl of the sixties,” Snitkina had come of age during Russia’s first feminist movement, and Dostoyevsky—a notorious radical turned acclaimed novelist—had impressed the young woman with his enlightened and visionary fiction. Yet in person she found the writer “terribly unhappy, broken, tormented,” weakened by epilepsy, and yoked to a ruinous gambling addiction. Alarmed by his condition, Anna became his trusted first reader and confidante, then his wife, and finally his business manager—launching one of literature’s most turbulent and fascinating marriages.

The Gambler Wife offers a fresh and captivating portrait of Anna Dostoyevskaya, who reversed the novelist’s freefall and cleared the way for two of the most notable careers in Russian letters—her husband’s and her own. Drawing on diaries, letters, and other little-known archival sources, Andrew Kaufman reveals how Anna warded off creditors, family members, and her greatest romantic rival, keeping the young family afloat through years of penury and exile. In a series of dramatic set pieces, we watch as she navigates the writer’s self-destructive binges in the casinos of Europe—even hazarding an audacious turn at roulette herself—until his addiction is conquered. And, finally, we watch as Anna frees her husband from predatory contracts by founding her own publishing house, making Anna the first solo female publisher in Russian history.

The result is a story that challenges ideas of empowerment, sacrifice, and female agency in nineteenth-century Russia—and a welcome new appraisal of an indomitable woman whose legacy has been nearly lost to literary history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525537144
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/31/2021
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Andrew D. Kaufman is Lecturer in Slavic Languages and Literatures and an Assistant Director at the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia. A Russian literature scholar whose work has been featured on Today, NPR, PBS, and Oprah.com, as well as in The Washington Post and The Moscow Times, he is the author of Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times and Understanding Tolstoy, and co-author of Russian for Dummies.

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