Crime and Litigation

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in my estimation, might have been the best novelist of the 19th century. Sure, people in his novels have an unfortunate tendency to give chapter-long monologues on “the mission of Russia,” but from what I understand he got paid by the word. For much of his life his compulsive gambling kept him in dire financial straits.

Now, a Russian sports lottery is using the writer’s likeness to shill lottery tickets. They say it’s all in good fun, but his great-grandson says it is anathema.

From the Guardian:

A great-grandson of Fyodor Dostoyevsky is suing a Russian lottery for using the famed writer’s image on tickets without permission, calling it particularly appalling because of the author’s long addiction to gambling.

Dmitry Dostoyevsky has filed a lawsuit against the nationwide sports lottery Chestnaya Igra – “Honest Game” in Russian – in a Moscow court, claiming $7,150 in moral damages.

But he says the fight isn’t about the money.

“To use the addiction of the great writer, which he was struggling to overcome all his life, for commercial purposes is insulting not only for me as Dostoyevsky’s descendant, but also for many other people who love to read his works,” said Dostoyevsky, 59.

The writer, who lived from 1821 to 1881 and is known for such works as “Crime and Punishment,” “The Brothers Karamazov” and “The Idiot,” battled the addiction for many years. His 1866 short novel, “The Gambler,” was a largely autobiographical account of a man who becomes hooked on roulette and other wagering.

Sergei Voronov, the great-grandson’s lawyer, said Russian law prohibits the use of a cultural or artistic figure for commercial purposes without permission.

Chestnaya Igra said it put the portraits of a number of Russian cultural greats, including the 18th century scientist Mikhail Lomonosov and 18th century military commander Gen. Alexander Suvorov, on tickets for “educational purposes.”

“A participant in the lottery receives not only a chance to become a big prize-winner but also to get acquainted with short biographical information about his great compatriot on the back side of the ticket,” said Natella Starodubtseva, a spokeswoman for Chestnaya Igra.

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Dostoyevsky’s Great-Grandson Sues Lottery

They should just cut to the chase and start making slot machines based on his books.

For example: a Brothers Karamazov slot machine. In this bonus round, you get credits by picking which brother is responsible for the death of their father. Or a Crime and Punishment slot machine. To trigger the bonus round you line up three slain money lenders and have to select from the items she’s holding as collateral. Just think of the fun graphics that game could have: Marmeladov tipping back a bottle, Raskolnikov wandering the streets in a fever, bloddy socks…the list goes on.

If none of this makes sense, try reading the books. They’re worth the effort.

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