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Alex and Emma - Summary

Fyodor Dostoevsky, the Russian novelist, is one of the most talented and tormented writers in history. He is the “Alex” (Luke Wilson) of the movie “Alex and Emma.” Author of Crime and Punishment, Notes From the Underground, Demons, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky brings his tormented life and eccentricities into his work.

Son of a medical doctor, and one of seven children, Dostoevsky lives in Russia at a time when philosophical and social ideas from the West flood the country. He and his cohorts want more freedom and less autocracy for Russia and are subsequently arrested for reading and copying censored work.

The punishment for Dostoevsky and his secret society (the Petrashevsky Circle) is initially months in prison. This is followed by a sentence of death before a firing squad. Tsar Nicholas I intends to teach the group a lesson, so he devises a charade of bringing the group before the execution squad and pardoning them at the last minute. Years in prison and low-ranking military service follow, ensuring torment for the group. Dostoevsky later notes that this misery makes him the writer he becomes.

While in the military, Dostoevsky meets and marries his first wife, Maria. She is sickly, and Dostoevsky soon turns to another woman, Polina, who is speculated to be the love of his life. She brings him pleasure and sorrow, and he turns to gambling as an escape. He becomes obsessed with the Roulette wheel, and loses more and more money. It is clear in his work that he feels suffering is the essence of life, and he writes about his tormented relationship and addiction to gambling in his novel, The Gambler.

The death of his wife Maria affects him greatly, and he turns from gambling. His agony is further increased by the death of his brother, Mikhail. Desperate for money, Dostoevsky agrees to sell one of his works for a low amount, and further agrees to produce a new novel within one year. If he does not, the editor will own the rights to all of his work for the next decade. As the date nears, Dostoevsky becomes more and more concerned that he will not finish the work.

Desperate to complete his novel, Dostoevsky hires a stenographer named Anna Snitkina (Emma/Kate Hudson). As their partnership grows, Dostoevsky becomes fond of the woman who tells him exactly what she thinks of his work. As the novel develops, so does their relationship, and Anna agrees to marry Dostoevsky. She helps him to submit his novel with hours to spare, and takes dictation for his works for years. Dostoevsky’s love for Anna and their children defeats his gambling addiction, and perfects his writing. He dies soon after, but is remembered for his understanding of the human condition.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5186stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016


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"Alex and Emma" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. May 22, 2019.
       <http://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/139705/Summary>.
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