“The Queen of Spades” is a mock fairy tale about debt, gambling, guilt and the supernatural—and the deadening effect of money on love. An aging, once-beautiful Countess possesses the secret to a one-time super-win at cards—but at what price?
Third in a trilogy of Russian fiction recently read on Books Unbound, “The Queen of Spades” is often considered the best of the short stories by Alexander Pushkin—and if the plot seems familiar, it’s because of its enormous influence. Pushkin was an aristocrat with African slave ancestry who sympathized with the liberal reforms sought by the revolutionary Decembrists. He was exiled and his wo