Reflections of Prevost’s Manon Lescaut in Dostoevsky’s The Gambler

Gina Kovarsky, Virginia Commonwealth University

An oblique allusion to Manon Lescaut in The Gambler suggests that Dostoevsky used Prevost's novel as one of his models for his semi-autobiographical text. Both texts focus on passion as a driving force in the narrator's life; both dwell on the conflict between worldly and spiritual values; both seek to come to grips with the power of money and temptation; and both find ways to subvert conventional morality. A fascination for an apparently capricious and enigmatic femme fatale almost consumes the narrators in both texts. Prevost's novel may have had an important impact on Dostoevsky’s depiction of a character losing his ethical compass while surrounded by corruption in a society undergoing a crisis in values.