April 24, 2012
Alexander Pushkin's The Queen of Spades
Down the rabbit hole I go. The more I read, think and write about the original short story, the more I realize why it is so celebrated. I also wish I could read Russian. Pushkin is a terse writer, and the story can be interpreted differently depending on how you look at it: it could have paranormal/supernatural elements, or it might involve the main character's hallucinations. Herman is an unusual main character. He’s coldly logical, and we like him because he has the good sense to avoid gambling and appears to romance the creepy grandmother's attractive young servant. Then we realize he’s actually manipulating her to find out if there truly is a secret, and doesn’t experience much remorse. By the time you understand who he really is, you’re in a strange place as a reader where you don’t really like him, but also want to know what's going on with the creepy grandmother as much as he does.
Right now I'll venture that The Queen of Spades is Pushkin's nightmare: a story about cruel twists of fate in gambling and in life, and the actions people will take to change their fortunes.
What I am doing: closely rereading the short story and making notes. Reading some Internet analysis. Building a few different possibilities of the storyform in Dramatica, which is producing tons of writing and thinking (collected in Scrivener). All of this contributes to a final storyform and a decent amount of prep writing that explains the progression of the story. Then we can really start imagining what an adaptation could look like.
Tomorrow I’m going to watch this film version