Andrew Wachtel

“The Queen of Spades” may well be the most widely read work by Pushkin in the English-speaking world. It has spurred an exceptionally wide range of criticism: as Neil Cornwell (himself the editor of a recent critical study of the work) has said, critics have “subjected [it] … to seemingly endless analysis.” Caryl Emerson classifies these endless analyses into four main groups: a) “socio-literary studies that focus on the mechanics and ideology behind gambling”; b) “psychological-generational treatments”; c) “linguistic and syntactic studies”; d) “numerological approaches.” And to these one must also add a number of studies devoted to comparisons of the story with any one of a variety of contemporary western European literary texts. In the essay that follows, I will not propose a radical change in approach to “The Queen of Spades.” Rather, I would like to revisit some points that have been made by scholars who have focused on analysis types (a) and (b), while paying close attention to one line in Pushkin’s text whose importance has not, in my view, been sufficiently recognized.


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Wachtel, Andrew. "Rereading 'The Queen of Spades'." Pushkin Review 3 (2000): 13-21.