The Most Dangerous Game

The Most Dangerous Game Study Guide

The short story “The Most Dangerous Game” was originally published in Collier’s Weekly on January 19, 1924. The story has also been published as “The Hounds of Zaroff.” The main premise of the tale has been adapted numerous times to film and radio. “The Most Dangerous Game” was published on the heels of World War I, and is informed by the author's experience in the war. The influence of the war can be seen in both the moral underpinnings and historical references in the text. For example, the book brings into question the morality of killing for sport as well as the presumption that there exists a stark divide between humans and animals.

In addition, there are numerous historical references to the politics and culture of Eurasia. Zaroff and Ivan are described as Cossacks. The Cossacks constituted a group of highly militarized individuals that fought for centuries in the name of the Czar. They were known for their brutal, violent ways. Connell’s identification of Zaroff and Ivan as Cossacks helps bolster the feasibility of the plotline. After the fall of the Czar in 1917, the Cossacks became fiercely hunted by the Soviet regime. In fact, Zaroff cites this genocidal tragedy as the reason for his flee to Ship-Trap Island. Much like his Cossack compatriots in Russia, Zaroff finds the tables turned on him as Rainsford manages to ultimately hunt the hunter.