The Queen of Spades

The Queen of Spades Study Guide

Alexander Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades" is a short story about Hermann, a calculating officer in the Army Engineers whose extreme greed leads him to obsess over finding out an old countess's magic formula to winning at the gambling game faro. After Hermann accidentally frightens the countess to death, her ghost divulges the secret sequence of cards, only for Hermann to lose everything by mistakenly betting on a queen as opposed to an ace, at which point the queen, resembling the countess, winks at Hermann and causes him to go insane.

First published in the Russian literary magazine Biblioteka dlya chteniya in 1834, "The Queen of Spades" has been adapted into numerous operas, radio plays, and films.