The Queen of Spades is a short story with supernatural elements by Alexander Pushkin about human avarice. Pushkin wrote the story in autumn 1833 in Boldino and it was first published in the literary magazine Biblioteka dlya chteniya in March 1834.
The story was the basis of the operas The Queen of Spades (1890) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, La dame de pique (1850) by Fromental Halevy and Pique Dame (1864) by Franz von Suppe (the overture to the Suppe work is all that remains in today's repertoire). It has been filmed numerous times.
Hermann, an ethnic German, is an officer of the engineers in the Imperial Russian Army. He constantly watches the other officers gamble, but never plays himself. One night, Tomsky tells a story about his grandmother, an elderly countess. Many years ago, in France, she lost a fortune at faro, and then won it back with the secret of the three winning cards, which she learned from the notorious Count of St. Germain. Hermann becomes obsessed with obtaining the secret.
The countess (who is now 87 years old) has a young ward, Lizavyeta Ivanovna. Hermann sends love letters to Lizavyeta, and persuades her to let him into the house. There Hermann accosts the countess, demanding the secret. She first tells him that story was a joke, but Hermann refuses to believe her. He repeats his demands, but she does not speak. He draws a pistol and threatens her, and the old lady dies of fright. Hermann then flees to the apartment of Lizavyeta in the same building. There he confesses to frightening the countess to death with his pistol. He defends himself by saying that the pistol was not loaded. He escapes from the house with the aid of Lizavyeta, who is disgusted to learn that his professions of love were a mask for greed…
Famous works of the author Alexander Pushkin: Eugene Onegin, The Captain's Daughter, Boris Godunov, Ruslan and Ludmila.