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The Gambler was written under the pressure of crushing debt. It is a stunning psychological portrait of a young man's exhilarating and destructive addiction, a compulsion that Dostoevsky–who once gambled away his young wife's wedding ring–knew intimately from his own experience. In the disastrous love affairs and gambling adventures of his character, Alexei Ivanovich, Dostoevsky explores the irresistible temptation to look into the abyss of ultimate risk that he believed was an essential part of the Russian national character.