The Gambler

Taking the Risk: Love, Luck and Gambling in Literature College

The Flowers of Evil (1866) authored by Charles Baudelaire and The Gambler (1867) by Fyodor Dostoevsky are two literary works of art with common denominators: they both deal with the themes of gambling, love, luck, moral debasement, and deep poverty. Both books are pivotal, produced during the symbolism era, the literary movement which swept Europe spanning 1860-1880. Symbolism’s main themes surround darkness, decadence; employing images pregnant with symbolic metaphor. Symbolists often looked at the ideal and vested it in language which would take some interpretation and deciphering to understand. Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) on the other hand grew out of the existentialist and symbolist movement in Russia. Although Russian symbolism did not officially begin until 1895, Dostoevsky is viewed as the Russian father of symbolism who preceded the movement though his writings.

In Baudelaire’s “Little Old Women”, he compares gambling old women to “vestals in love with the late Frascati.” Frascati was the only gambling salon in Paris which allowed women players to gamble. This image of old women gambling away their money enraptured by an uncontrollable obsession evokes the scenes of Grandmother gambling away her wealth at the casino...

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