Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Casino. Much of the novel’s most intense action occurs in the casino, which Dostoevski depicts as a kind of hell on earth. Among the crowds thronging the gambling tables, one finds lost souls, desperate to change their luck, as well as vicious swindlers, demons of a sort, who prey on the unwary. In one important episode, an elderly Russian woman, whose death is eagerly anticipated by family members who stand to inherit her fortune, unexpectedly arrives in Roulettenburg, and soon proceeds to lose a colossal amount of money at the roulette table. This is money she had originally planned to use for the construction of a church. Chastened by her losses, she returns to Moscow with a new sense of humility. The example she sets is lost on Aleksei Ivanovich, who goes to the casino and wins a large sum of money, thereby setting him on the path to a ruinous gambling addiction.
*Paris. Capital of France to which Aleksei Ivanovich travels with the French adventuress Mademoiselle Blanche after winning his fortune at the Roulettenburg casino. The Paris that Aleksei Ivanovich experiences is one of frivolity and light entertainment. Mademoiselle Blanche cheerfully spends his winnings on clothes, horses, and furniture, yet he remains indifferent to this, for his underlying ambition is to return to the gambling tables.
*Moscow. In contrast to the tainted foreign cities of Roulettenburg and Paris, the old Russian city of Moscow symbolically represents traditional values and spiritual firmness.
Schlangenberg. Mountain peak near the town of Roulettenburg. The name of the peak in German means “Snake Mountain.” In a desperate attempt to convince the woman he loves that he is devoted to her, Aleksei Ivanovich tells the woman that he would jump off the Schlangenberg if she so commanded. This episode recalls the story of the temptation of Jesus by the devil in the New Testament.