(12) The Madness of Dostoevsky the Gambler in Baden-Baden - Five Weeks in Hell for Mr. and Mrs. Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky and His Wife's Fateful Journey: Travels in Western Europe of Madness and Love

(12) The Madness of Dostoevsky the Gambler in Baden-Baden - Five Weeks in Hell for Mr. and Mrs. Dostoevsky

Leaving his wife alone in Dresden, Dostoevsky went to Homburg to visit a casino. From there, he was completely engulfed by the fever of gambling...

In this article, we will look at such Dostoevsky's madness and Mrs. Anna's days of despair.

At the end of June, the editorial office of the "Russian Report" sent us some money, and we decided to leave immediately. I was very sorry to leave Dresden after such a pleasant and happy stay. I had an uneasy feeling that our mood would change drastically in the new environment, and it turned out to be true. When I think back over the five weeks we spent in Baden-Baden and reread my shorthand journal entries, they seem like a nightmare, and I can only think that my husband was in a heavy chain, totally haunted by nightmares.

My husband's assertion that he could always win if he played roulette his way might have been both completely correct and unquestionably successful. But only if a cool-headed Englishman or German could win this way, and not someone as nervous, easily absorbed, and determined to go to extremes as my husband. But besides calmness and patience, a gambler had to have enough money to last for a while without the luck coming his way. In this respect, he was unlucky. We didn't have that kind of money, and if we failed, we had nowhere to turn. So it was less than a week before we had to spend all the money we had, and the struggle to find money to continue playing began. The only way was to pawn the money. Often, my husband had no self-control and would lose all the money he had just pawned. Sometimes, just as he was about to lose the last of his gold, the lucky one would suddenly turn around and return with dozens of Friedrich's gold coins. On one occasion, he brought back a wallet filled to the brim with gold. There were two hundred and ten Friedrichs gold coins (each coin costing 20 Tarells), or about 4,300 Tarells. But this money did not remain with him for long. The husband could not be patient. Before he could recover from the excitement of the game, he would go out and grab 20 coins and lose, and then grab another 20 coins and lose again, returning several times in the course of 20 to 30 minutes to retrieve the money, until finally he was left with nothing. Even if a pawnshop was again a good option, there was no more money to be had, and the pawnshop had run out of money. In the meantime, his debts were piling up, and he could no longer avoid worrying. When she saw that he was having trouble paying his bills to the noisy innkeeper, she began to treat him roughly and without mercy, even taking away various benefits that he was entitled to under the terms of his contract. She wrote letters to her mother in the country and waited with great anguish for the money to arrive. But the money was lost in gambling the day it arrived or the next day, and we were left with nothing but the bare necessities (rent and food). We were left penniless again, pondering how to get some money to pay off our debts, and wishing that we could escape this hell rather than win the bets.

Misuzu Shobo, Anna Dostoevskaya, translated by Hiroshi MatsushitaDostoevsky in Recollection."p176-177

Baden-Baden is famous as a German holiday resort, and many famous people from all over Europe have stayed here. Turgenev was so fond of Baden-Baden that he even had a mansion here.The Fateful Love of Turgenev and Madame Viardot: The Opera Actress Who Decided Turgenev's Fate.(See article on)

The Dostoevsky couple took advantage of such an elegant retreat for the upper class.

Dostoevsky's goal, of course, is a casino. He has no interest in the elegant recreation of the upper class. He wanted to win the big game, to turn the tables. He wanted to make a decisive move, risking everything.

Nevertheless, as Mrs. Anna predicted, Dostoevsky's gamble has disastrous results.

In no time at all, all the money he had on hand was gone, and even the money he had pawned as a last-ditch effort was quickly squandered. He was truly penniless.

But this was only the beginning. They had to live like that for five weeks...

As for me, I tried to remain as calm as possible and endure this "blow of fate" of our choosing. After the initial loss of money, the excitement subsided, and I came to strongly believe that my husband would never gamble, that even if he did win big, he would be completely wiped out by the end of the day (if he could last until the next day), and that neither pleading nor persuasion would have any effect on him. And that neither pleading nor persuasion would have any effect on her husband.

At first, I wondered why a man like Fyodor Mikhailovich, who had endured so many hardships (confinement in a fortress, the executioner's block, exile, the death of a beloved brother or wife, etc.) like a man, did not have the willpower to exercise self-control, to quit after a certain point even if he lost, to not bet until the last turrel. It was a mystery to me. This seemed to him a kind of humiliation unbecoming of a man of such high character, and it was a pity and an annoyance to find this weakness in her beloved husband. Soon, however, it became clear that this was no mere "weakness of will," but something spontaneous that no man of strong character could overcome, a passion that took a holistic view of mankind. With this in mind, he had no choice but to persevere and regard his passion for gambling as an illness beyond his control. The only way to overcome it was to escape. But he could not escape from Baden until he received a large sum of money from Russia.

To tell the truth, I never criticized my husband for losing and I never argued with him about it (for which he was very grateful). I gave him what little money I had without complaint, even though I was harassed by the landlady and small creditors, knowing that if I failed to pay him by the deadline, I would never get my things back (which happened often).

But when I saw Fyodor Mikhailovich himself suffering, I felt deeply sorry for him. Pale and gaunt, she would stagger back from the roulette table (my husband would never take me to the roulette table, saying that it was no place for a young woman in her right mind) and beg for money (I had all the money). After about 30 minutes of going out, they would come back for their money, even more disappointed than before. And he would do it again and again until he lost all his money.

When he had nothing left to take to the roulette and no more money to bring in, he would fall into extreme despair, sobbing and begging on his knees for forgiveness for all the pain he had caused you. It took a lot of persuasion and discussion to comfort him, to explain that his condition was not yet hopeless, to devise a way out, and to direct his attention and thoughts to other things. How happy and joyful I was when this worked and I was able to take him out to the reading room to read the newspaper or take him for a long walk, which always brought positive results for my husband. We might have walked dozens of miles around the outskirts of Baden before we received our money. On these occasions, my husband would regain his happy, relaxed mood and we would talk for hours about all sorts of things. Our favorite walk was the one to the new castle, which led us through a wonderful forest to the old castle. There we would have a glass of milk or coffee. We also walked further to Ehrenbreitstein Castle (about 8 km from Baden), had a meal, and returned at sunset. The walk was pleasant, and she enjoyed talking with her husband (despite her money woes and disagreements with the innkeeper), and sometimes wished the money from Petersburg would come sooner. But as soon as the money arrived, her happy life turned to hell.

Misuzu Shobo, Anna Dostoevskaya, translated by Hiroshi MatsushitaDostoevsky in Recollection."p177-179

What do you think? We hope that you have been able to feel the tremendous power of Dostovsky's gambling frenzy.

And the devotion of Mrs. Anna must have been even more astonishing: a 45+ year old man crying over his 20 year old wife. It is a rather shocking picture to imagine.

But what is written here is still a much milder image of Dostoevsky. Mrs. Anna's.Diary"In the following pages, a more graphic image of Dostoevsky is recorded. Since we are here, let's take a look at this one as well.

I had twenty-five gold coins left, but Faja had taken five today, so I had twenty coins left. On his way out, he told me that he would go to the post office with me later and that he wanted me to get ready and wait for his return. After he left, I felt very lonely. I had no doubt that he would lose the money he had won and that he would suffer for it again. I almost cried a few times and almost lost my mind, but as soon as Féja came back, I asked her very calmly, "Did he lose? Yes, I lost," he replied hopelessly, and began to sound his disapproval again. He chastised himself for his own unworthiness to be attracted to gambling, and told me in an impassioned tone that he loved me, that I was his wonderful wife, and that I was too good for him. He then asked me to give him the money again. I replied that I could not give him the money today, and that if I did, I would give it to him tomorrow, but never today, because he would probably lose it too, and you would suffer again. Still, Faja begged me to give him the two gold coins he was clamoring for, so he could go to the roulette table and make his mind up. I could not help myself, so I gave him the two gold coins. Féja, in her excitement, asked me not to think of her as a scumbag who would take the last piece of bread from me and gamble it away. I begged him to calm down and told him that I would never think of you that way and that you were free to lose however much you wanted. After Faja left, I cried terribly. I felt terrible for his suffering and remorse, and worried that I had such meager resources in such a different situation. Faja returned shortly and told me that he had lost (he had 18 gold coins left).

Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Anna Dostoevskaya,Translated by Toyofusa Kinoshita'TheMrs. Dostoevsky, The Diary of Anna.p172-173

In this way, Mrs. Anna spends her days counting the number of gold coins she has left. In her "Diary," Anna's life together is described in such a vivid manner. We can only know this information because she did not intend to show it to anyone. I am sorry for Mrs. Anna, but it is too valuable for us in future generations.

Nevertheless, Dostoevsky'sDon't think of yourself as a scumbag who would take every last crumb of bread from me and gamble it away."I am amazed at the word This is exactly whatThe Brothers Karamazov.It is the very Dmitry, the eldest son of the "Dostoevsky". That was what Dostoevsky actually said at this time. Moreover, in the "Diary," we hear the word "scumbag" used by Dostoevsky many times after this. The word "scumbag" seems to have a special feeling for Dostoevsky.

Now, even the quasi-"scumbag" Dostoevsky did not always lose his bets. Sometimes he won tremendously large sums of money. On one occasion, he even had 160 gold coins in his pocket. But he couldn't hold on. The next day he would lose almost all of it.

Dostoevsky eventually pawns off on Mrs. Anna's precious earrings and brooch. These were a gift from Dostoevsky to Mrs. Anna. When Dostoevsky handed them over, Anna cried behind his back...

And that's not all. Dostoevsky even pawned his wedding ring.

I can't get over the fact that he now cries to himself, "Don't call me a scumbag". I wonder how Mrs. Anna didn't give up on this man. Dostoevsky's madness was that out of the ordinary.

But at the end of this hellish Baden-Baden, a change begins to take place. Let's read the "Diary" again.

When we got home, we drank tea feeling miserable. But I wasn't depressed at all. Or perhaps habit is a terrible thing, and I had become so accustomed to such turbulence that I was no longer as anxious about our situation as I had been in the past. When Faja came to say good night, he was somewhat excited. I love you madly. I love you very, very much. You are too good for me. You are somehow a guardian angel that God has sent to me. I still have to change my behavior. I am forty-five years old, but I am not ready for family life. I still have to train myself for it. I am still a dreamer at times. He murmured, "I am still a dreamer at times.

Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Anna Dostoevskaya,Translated by Toyofusa KinoshitaThe Diary of Mrs. Dostoevsky, Annap273

First of all, Mrs. Anna's determination has become even stronger. She began to develop a strength that would no longer be swayed by the slightest movement. In fact, it was around this time that Mrs. Anna found out that she was pregnant, and it is thought that she was becoming more aware of her role as a mother.

And above all, it seems to me that it was around this time that Dostoevsky began to truly trust his wife Anna. At the beginning of his trip, Dostoevsky was still like a protector of his young new wife, Anna. He was also worried that Anna might get fed up with the age difference and the unfamiliarity of living abroad and run away.

However, despite his many despicable acts in Baden-Baden, Anna did not blame him, but comforted him and protected him. Dostoevsky begins to have deep trust in Mrs. Anna. Yes, the guardianship has been reversed. The guardian's position was reversed. From this point on, Mrs. Anna is Dostoevsky's guardian. Only then does Dostoevsky find his guardian angel, Anna. How strange life is! Dostoevsky, a great writer who survived the Siberian exile, came to completely entrust his body and soul to his guardian angel, who was as kind as his mother.

The two then exchange these words.

Feja loved me so much that we would talk with a sigh and I would say, "Oh, Feja," and he would say back, "Oh, Anya. It was our sympathy. Today, he repeated several times, "I never thought I would meet a wife like this. I never thought I would meet such a wife. I never thought that you would be such a good woman, who would never reproach me in any way, but would only comfort me. Then Féja also said, "If you are going to stay like this forever, I will be very grateful to you. If you keep me like this, I will definitely be reborn. Because you have given me many new feelings and thoughts, and I myself am becoming a better person.

Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Anna Dostoevskaya,Translated by Toyofusa KinoshitaThe Diary of Mrs. Dostoevsky, AnnaP278

In fact, Dostoevsky's gambling addiction did not abate until he left Baden-Baden, and he repeated the same behavior during his subsequent stay in Geneva. But clearly, their relationship began to change.

Finally, I would like to share one more episode from Baden-Baden. Toward the end of his stay in Baden-Baden, Dostoevsky suffered an epileptic seizure.

Faja's head was just barely touching the bed and he almost slid to the floor. He later recounted that he remembered the beginning of the seizure. He had not yet fallen asleep when he had the seizure and tried to get up. I think that's how he collapsed, just over the bed. I began to wipe off the sweat and foam. The seizure did not last very long and did not seem to be very strong. He did not turn white, but the convulsions were severe. After that, he began to regain consciousness, kissed my hand, and held me. Then he came to his senses, but he could not understand why I was by his side and why I had come to his side in the middle of the night. Then he asked me if I had a seizure yesterday. Now," I replied. He kissed me madly and said he loved you madly and worshipped you. After the seizure passed, he had a fear of death [the fear of death was always present after a seizure]. He begged me to stay with him and not to leave him alone, as if he thought he could escape death with me by his side. Mrs. Holland's note: "I felt like I was going to die soon. He began to say that he felt he was going to die soon and asked me to keep an eye on him. I told him that to calm him down, I would sleep on the sofa bed next to your bed, right next to it, and that if anything happened to you, I would hear and get up immediately. He was very happy with that and I immediately moved to the other bed.

Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Anna Dostoevskaya,Translated by Toyofusa KinoshitaThe Diary of Mrs. Dostoevsky, AnnaP294-295

He kissed me madly and said, 'I love you madly and worship you. When the seizure passed, he had a fear of death [the fear of death was always present after a seizure]. He begged me to stay with him and not to leave him alone, as if he thought I would keep him from dying.

I think these words show how much Dostoevsky relies on Mrs. Anna. Dostoevsky can no longer be without Anna. I want to believe that this is not just "words, words, words," but from Dostoevsky's heart.

Well, the five weeks of hell that I spent in this way are finally coming to an end. The advance from "Russian Call" had finally arrived. There was not a moment to lose. The two of them left for Basel, Switzerland, before the madness had time to take its toll.

Baden-Baden, the nightmare that tormented Dostoevsky and his wife.

But something has changed for the two of us who have been through this hell. This change will become more apparent in the future.

In the next article, we will see this city of Baden-Baden in action. This city can only be described as a hell for Mr. and Mrs. Dostoevsky, but what does it look like now? Let's take the time to think about their stay here as we tour the places associated with them.

be unbroken

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