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Choosing the Right Card: Madness, Gambling, and the Imagination in Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades"
Vol. 109, No. 5 (Oct., 1994), pp. 995-1008
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/462967
Page Count: 14
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In approaching the enigmatic representation of Germann's fantastic visions and experiences in "The Queen of Spades," Dostoevsky argues that the perfection of the story lies in Pushkin's ability to make mutually exclusive ideas equally convincing. However, Germann's madness, one of the story's central events, has been treated almost uniformly as a sort of punishment visited on the hero by the author. To be sure, Pushkin often resorts to parody to bring out the reductive and vulgar aspects of his hero's imagination and madness-a literary practice of the times. Nevertheless, Pushkin also subtly provides evidence for an antithetical but equally valid romantic interpretation of Germann's madness and life. When Germann chooses the queen at the end, he takes the right card: for the first time in his life, he chooses to risk, to gamble-that is, to live. Germann's choice-and the madness that leads to and results from it-echoes in Russian literature from Dostoevsky's Ivan Karamazov to Nabokov's own Hermann/ΓepΜaΗ in Despair.
PMLA © 1994 Modern Language Association