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Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  431 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Considered Teffi’s single greatest work, Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea is a deeply personal account of the author’s last months in Russia and Ukraine, suffused with her acute awareness of the political currents churning around her, many of which have now resurfaced.

In 1918, in the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Teffi, whose stories and journalism h
Paperback, 296 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by NYRB Classics (first published 1931)
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Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian-history
Note to self for 2017....... you don't have to finish a book that you are not connecting with. You have purchased it, you have tried it, you don't have to finish it.

Occasionally I struggle though books I am not enjoying in the hope that it will turn around and this happens to be one of those that I should have left aside after 100 pages as I just wasn't enjoying the read.

Memories from Moscow to the black Sea is an account of the author Teffi's journey from Moscow to Ukraine 1918, in the imme
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I bought this book in a weak moment because someone from my Misfit Readers group insisted I should read it, that everyone should read it. Once I finally got around to reading it, I devoured it. Teffi was a well-known journalist, playwright, and poet in early 20th century Russia, and continued to write as the Bolshevik Revolution displaced and disappeared many of her colleagues. She moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow, but then had to leave Moscow. She thought she would be gone for a month but ne ...more
Before a Map of Russia, by Teffi
Introduction, by Edythe Haber

--Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea

Map of Teffi's Journey
Appendix: The Last Breakfast
Translator's Note
Further Reading
David Gustafson
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Teffi was the pen name of Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya, a famous Russian poet, song writer, playwright and satirist caught in the middle of the Bolshevik Revolution when people were executed by Reds and Whites for no other reason than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is Teffi's account of her escape, tip toeing between executions, bribery, famine and disease, from Moscow, to Kiev and then on to Novorossiisk and Constantinople.

The quick witted Teffi has the unsinkable black humor of a
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Subtitled , “From Moscow to the Black Sea,” this memoir was first serialised in 1928-1930, before being published as a single volume in 1931. Although I had not previously heard of Teffi , she was one of the most widely read and beloved of Russia’s writers; who was both a favourite of both Tsar Nikolai II and of Lenin. Teffi was a pseudonym of Nadezhda Aleksandrovna Lokhvitskaya (1872-1952), who was born into a distinguished St Petersburg family.

This is her story of a journey across Russia in th
ARC review; also a post for Women in Translation month

[4.5] If you find this sort of thing horribly romantic...
A furnace stoker with whom she struck up a conversation on the deck one night revealed that he was in disguise—that he was actually a Petersburg youth who had visited her apartment, where they “talked about stones, about a yellow sapphire.” Since then his entire family had perished and now he planned to go to Odessa to fight the Bolsheviks. Teffi remembers the evenings in Petersburg: “L

Description: Teffi was a famous Russian writer in the early 1900's, forced to flee her country. And this is the story of her eventful flight, which is newly translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg.

Unrest and anxiety in Moscow as the Bolsheviks gather, but a 'reading tour' of Ukraine offers Teffi and other artists a way out. Time to take the train.. Reader Tracy-Ann Oberman

On the train to Kiev, away from the
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For years I looked through Russian emigre journals from Paris and Harbin and San Francisco, able to read about 30% of it, enough to know that everyone loved Teffi. But who's Teffi, what kind of a name is that. Finally this year, after some 90 years, Robert and Elizabeth Chandler together with Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg have published the first English translation of Teffi's memoir of her long journey from Moscow to the Black Sea in the wake of the Russian collapse in World War I. (Yo ...more
This is just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful in places. This is Teffi's account of her journey out of Revolutionary Russia. It has beauty, humor, and sorrow.

Thank NYRB Book Club, thank you.

(May 2016 selection)
These are the memories of a very talented woman who happened to live in the wrong place (Russia) at the wrong time (the Bolshevik Revolution). Going by the pen name "Teffi," Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya sympathizes with the revolutionists in the waning days of Czarist Russia, but we all know how principled movements can quickly degenerate into mayhem thanks to the vacuum created when power topples. See Revolution comma French just for starters. Before long, our girl Teffi is not so much sympathetic wit ...more
Russian authors often produce works of darkness and depression. Teffi's book of her journey escaping the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War is depressing at times but it is also unusual in her way of seeing humour in the events around her. The book is a kind of journal with some reminisces of her life, her phobias and her dreams of returning to Moscow. It is an unusual book from Russia in that it presents a very personal story from an intelligent, witty woman with a love of life, who recogn ...more
Bryan Alexander
A dear friend whom I've never met sent me this book, knowing it addressed one of my obsessions (the first world war) and one of my lifelong passions (Russia). This was well chosen, J.

Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea is an autobiographical work by Teffi (pseudonym for Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya ), a Russian writer during the early 20th century. The book covers a very short and precise period of her life, and of world history, 1918-1919, when she fled Moscow in during the Russian Civ
Missy J
I didn't like this. The author describes the journey of how she left Russia at the wake of the bolsheviks taking over the country. She leaves Moscow together with her artist friends and during their various stops in Kiev, Odessa and other places, they perform shows. She describes funny details that happen during the trip, but it all felt so pointless. She probably just wants to chronicle this part of her life story, but I couldn't connect at all as a reader. Maybe it's because I'm not familiar w ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translations
This was a beautiful & captivating book! It was amazing to see how she could convey the desperation of the situation in Russia but at the same time touch my heart and also make me laugh. Amazing!
I can't resist including a quote from the book which seems very relevant during this U.S. Election year "Oh little fish, little fish, can you trust this leader of yours? Are you sure your foremost philosopher-fish is not simply a fool?"
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book! Beautiful writing and in particular wonderful humor and lightness -poetry really- to describe the incredible hardships of refugees running from Soviet bolcheviks. Great spirit!
teffi's literary journal of her leaving (escaping with her life?) st petersburg and moscow in 1918 to the "safety" of kiev, then leaving kiev for the "safety" of odessa, then to novorassicks sp? then finally, catching the "last boat out, to Constantinople in april 1919 or so. wonderful writing of the funny things in this long drawn out tragedy, author knows most all the literary and journalistic lights of the day, and the actors and singers of the stage and quite a few princes and other higher-u ...more
Tyler Jones
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book knocked me on my ass. The tone shifts from lighthearted to heartbroken in the time it takes a cloud to pass over the sun...and then the sun comes out again. The only other writer I can think to compare her to is Karel Capek; he too could capture the absurdity in the most inhumane situation.

I think I was also moved by this book because it brought to life, in scenes of cinematic clarity, a period of history I know very little about. It is a very personal history lesson that reveals the
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, russia
What a strange and endearing book! Teffi was a popular Russian writer and journalist. But when the Bolsheviks took control and the "Red Terror" started taking hold, she fled Russia, always one step ahead of the Bolsheviks. She went to Kiev, and then Odessa, and then Novorossisk, finally ending up in Constantinople and Western Europe.

It is strange to see Teffi's sense of humor throughout Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea. She always keeps her observations on the light side, except at the ver
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Rosie
A friend recommended Teffi’s ‘Memories’ to me after seeing a play based on it, or something theatrically inflected. I hadn’t heard of her before, but found this memoir quite delightful. Although the tone is generally that of an ironically toned raconteuse, the events she recounts were chaotic and frightening in the extreme. Teffi was a journalist known for her ‘feuilletons’ who fled Moscow during the Civil War, fearing the Bolsheviks. She came across a constantly changing group of fellow Russian ...more
Olga Zilberbourg
"For readers of Bulgakov, Bunin, Babel, and other writers of the Russian revolution, the outline of this journey is a familiar one. Teffi arrived in Kiev at the end of 1918, and within weeks, Germans surrendered the city to the army of Ukrainian nationalists led by Petlyura. Ditching Gooskin, who acts too sketchy, Teffi takes the train to Odessa. Odessa was then under the French rule, and as Bolsheviks approached from the north, the French evacuated by the Black Sea. Teffi boards a steamer that, ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four stars for Teffi and one to Robert Chandler for his excellent translation of this marvelous memoir. A witty journalist, poet and playwright, Teffi muses here on her journey through war and revolution-torn Russia. It's an elegy - she never went back - but with her sharp eye for the telling detail, she gives her story the immediacy of a screenplay. The evanescence of life, the inevitability of death, the simple human desire for comfort in the face of both: Teffi nails it with heart and humor.
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1920s, 1930s, russians
Absolutely wonderful. Twainishly funny a la Innocents Abroad, but with a melancholy and finally a profundity that feels like an authentic bottling of what it was like to live in and flee from the dying Russian Empire. I was pulled right through from cover to cover in one sitting. Yet again grateful to NYRBC for bringing out great overlooked lit in translation.
Ciaran Monaghan
This is the story of Teffi's flight from Moscow and, eventually, Russia. She is fleeing from the Bolsheviks and the potential chaos and repressions they may bring. She doesn't seem to believe the severity of the trouble when she first leaves but gradually becomes aware as they flee ever further, from Kiev to Odessa to Novorossiisk and finally to Constantinople, never to return. Like with her other work, her personality comes through strongly as a funny, confident and self-assured person who is a ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In a wry, detailed account, a popular Russian actress/writer succinctly depicts the chaos and violence she witnessed in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution as she travelled in 1918 from Moscow to Kiev to perform her work. Events then took her to Odessa and Novorossiysk on the Black Sea and then finally to unplanned exile. The NYRB edition includes helpful background information and a map of Teffi’s travels.
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week:
Teffi was a famous Russian writer in the early 1900's, forced to flee her country. And this is the story of her eventful flight, which is newly translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg. It is abridged for radio by Katrin Williams:

1/5: Unrest and anxiety in Moscow as the Bolsheviks gather, but a 'reading tour' of Ukraine offers Teffi and other artists a way out. Time to take the train..

2/5: On the train to Kiev, away f
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Teffi was the pen name of Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya (1872-1952), a prolific Russian pre-revolutionary writer who went into exile in Paris, where she continued to write. She seemed to fade from view but is now receiving belated recognition, which this memoir will surely enhance. It’s an account of her last journey across Russia before escaping by boat to Istanbul. Until the Revolution she was a regular contributor to the liberal Russian daily newspaper The Russian Word, but when that was closed down ...more
World Literature Today
"n this memoir-cum-travelogue, Teffi, an immensely popular early-twentieth-century Russian satirist, tells of her chance escape from the throes of revolution and war in her motherland. It’s 1918 and Teffi and some fellow artists are whisked out of Moscow on the pretext of a traveling show by a couple of talented impresarios with the foresight to see that the farther they can get from the Bolsheviks, the better off they’ll all be. As they bumble their way through border crossings, shortages, dise ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most of the leading lights of Russian literature—especially before the Russian Revolution—that most people know are men. Almost two years ago, I was delighted to learn that the work of one Russian woman was being translated and published in English. I had never heard of Teffi and was astonished to find that the literary world had seemingly forgotten Tsar Nicholas’s favorite author. In addition to Teffi’s collection, Subtly Worded and Other Stories, we now have Memories: From Moscow to the Black ...more
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
As the book description says, "the book displays the brilliant style, keen eye, comic gift, and deep feeling that have made Teffi one of the most beloved of twentieth-century Russian writers. " That is, most beloved in Russia because I don't think that most of the rest of the world ever heard of her. Hopefully that is now being corrected with English translations of several of her works.

Teffi has a great style, managing to say a lot with a few well-chosen words. Describing what for most people
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: around-the-world
I wish Teffi was my friend. She's an accomplished artist, a loyal friend, a witty but warm observer of profound changes to 1918's Russian society and politics, and a good sport. Setting out for Odessa with a group of fellow artists and a couple smarmy impresarios, she rolls with the punches, of which there are many as the group is buffeted by Red and White Army shenanigans wherever they go. Teffi clearly sees the absurdity of the power grab while sensitively noting its impacts on her loved ones ...more
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Teffi (Russian author page: Тэффи) was a Russian humorist writer. Teffi is a pseudonym. Her real name was Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya (Надежда Александровна Лoхвицкая); after her marriage Nadezhda Alexandrovna Buchinskaya (Бучинская). Together with Arkady Averchenko she was one of the most prominent authors of the Satiricon magazine. ...more
“It was enough to make you think fondly of those early days, of that “springtime” of the revolution when your teeth would be chattering from fear, when you froze every time you heard a passing truck—would it stop at the gate or would it drive on by?—when your heart would lurch nauseatingly at the sound of rifle butts thudding against the door. Now we were only too used to it all. Everything had become boring, boring to the point of revulsion. It was all just coarse, dirty, and stupid.” 1 likes
“I was afraid of maddened faces, of lanterns being shone in my eyes, of blind mindless rage. I was afraid of cold, of hunger, of darkness, of rifle butts banging on parquet floors. I was afraid of screams, of weeping, of gunshots, of the deaths of others. I was tired of it all. I wanted no more of it. I had had enough.” 1 likes
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