Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky, was a fiction writer best known for his novel Crime and Punishment. His work explores political and social 19th century Russia. He was interested in spirituality and psychology. His work sparked the existentialist movement in the early 20th century. The Gambler is a psychological portrait of a young man's destructive decline as a result of being addicted to gambling. Dostoevsky has a firsthand understanding of the lure of gambling as illustrated by the fact that he once gambled away his young wife's wedding ring. The love affairs and gambling adventures of Alexei explore the temptations and ultimate risk involved in what Dostoevksy believed to be the Russian national character.