DOSTOYEVSKY was describing himself, and, during 4 intense weeks in the fall of 1866, he wrote The Gambler to pay his own debts from reckless gambling. This classic portrait describes with startling clinical insight the nature of pathological gambling, a phenomenon that would not be officially recognized as a psychiatric disorder until 114 years later.
When Dostoyevsky's gambler makes a big win at the casino, a win he mistakenly thinks he has made to help the woman he loves, the novelist describes the feeling this way:
It could hardly be called thinking. I only felt a sort of terrible delight in success, victory, power—I don't know how to express it... I remembered and fully realized that I was going to her, and that presently I should be with her, telling her, showing her.
I ran up to my own floor and flung the door open. Polina was there, sitting on