The Queen of Spades
by Alexander Pushkin is a short story that uses to be published with other works of the most famous Russian writer that may differ according to the edition. The title giving story of this edition is about Hermann, a young officer of the engineers in the Russian Army. When his comrades ask him why he only watches them gamble and never plays at cards himself, he answers that he hardly cares ‘to sacrifice the necessaries of life for uncertain superfluities’. Then, one night, his friend Tomsky tells the story of his grand-mother who lost a fortune in Paris when she was young and then found herself unable to pay back her gambling debt. She turned to the Count of Saint Germain for help who instead of lending her money told her the secret of three winning cards to get back her lost fortune and even more. The story engrosses Hermann so much that he can’t think of anything else but making the old Countess tell him the secret. In order to achieve his goal he flirts with Lisaveta Ivanovna, the ward of the Countess, sending her love letters. Eventually, the young woman lets him know how to get into the house and into her room. Hermann waits for the Countess in her bedroom and bids her to reveal the secret of the three winning cards to him, but she tells him that it was only a joke. He refuses to believe her and threatens her with a pistol. The almost eighty-year old woman dies of terror and not knowing what else to do Hermann goes up to Lisaveta Ivanovna’s room. He confesses to her what he did and asks her to help him to get out of the house again. During the night after the funeral the old countess appears to Hermann as a ghost and tells him the three winning cards at last. Sure to win Hermann finally plays cards and puts at stake his entire fortune three times. Twice he wins as expected, but the third time...
Of course, the setting and the mores that Alexander Pushkin described in The Queen of Spades
are characteristic of the early nineteenth century, but the story itself is timeless in its outlines. The founder of modern Russian literature put down a typical story of greed that could happen everywhere and any time.