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Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me: The Best of Teffi

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4.10  ·  Rating details ·  199 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Early in her literary career Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya, born in St. Petersburg in 1872, adopted the pen-name of Teffi, and it is as Teffi that she is remembered. In pre-revolutionary Russia she was a literary star, known for her humorous satirical pieces; in the 1920s and 1930s, she wrote some of her finest stories in exile in Paris, recalling her unforgettable encounters with ...more
Kindle Edition, New York Review Books Classics, 224 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by NYRB Classics
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4.10  · 
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 ·  199 ratings  ·  35 reviews


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Edward
Introduction: Teffi the Fool, by Robert Chandler
A Note on the Texts


Part I: How I Live and Work

--How I Live and Work
--My Pseudonym
--My First Visit to an Editorial Office

Part II: Staging Posts

--Liza
--Love
--The Green Devil
--Valya
--Staging Posts
--The White Flower

Part III: Heady Days: Revolutions and Civil War

--New Life
--Rasputin
--We Are Still Living
--The Gadarene Swine

Part IV: Artists and Writers Remembered

--My First Tolstoy
--The Merezhkovskys
--Ilya Repin

List of Historical Figures
Acknowledge
...more
Melissa
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a collection of autobiographical essays from the renowned, female Russian author Teffi. The essays were all written during the early part of the twentieth century and reflect Teffi’s own struggles with having to flee a turbulent and oppressive Russia. The collection is divided into four parts, the first of which is entitled “How I Live and Work.” These first few essays in the book capture her inner thoughts and self-doubts as she becomes Teffi “The Author.”

The second part of the boo
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I don't know whether to call this short stories or essays. Is it autobiographical fiction or is it true? Opinions seem mixed. The person who ranted about autobiographical fiction on my Instagram review of another book is going to really hate this one!

This is not quite as shimmering and memorable as Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea, which I think is a must-read. But there are places in this collection that really shine. The first is the overall humor. I am impressed at the way this has been
...more
Madeleine
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a joy, such a treasure! Can’t believed they’ve kept Teffi from us (wretched people who can’t read Russian, that is) this long. I love her, and I now also want an “In this house, we do not talk about Rasputin” sign for my dining room.
Jim
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book of essays and journalistic sketches is one of the best sources of information on what life was like in the last days of the Empire and the first days after the 1917 Revolution. It is fortunate for us that Teffi, the pseudonym of Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya, was able to make her escape from Russia before Stalin started his purges of everyone who remembered the old days.

Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me: The Best of Teffi is a miscellany of personal, literary, and historical essays -- with a t
...more
David
May 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: russian-lit
This was, obviously, not my kind of book. Review forthcoming.
Tyler Jones
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Funny, insightful and often very touching. These short pieces are dazzling inventive while maintaining a completely casual tone. It is as if the funniest person you know is telling you charming, self-depreciating stories from her life, except in this case her life involves being hit on by Rasputin, meeting Tolstoy at the tender age of 13 (she is 13, not Tolstoy - he is much older) or what happens when the newspaper she works for is taken over by V. I. Lenin. Wonderful stuff.

I'd give it five sta
...more
Ophelia.Desdemona
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great. The book I guess contains her autobiographical stories, covering a wide range of subjects.

She's such a clever writer. And funny too. Love her sarcasm. Though she is from Russia, her writing isn't anything like other Russian writing I have read. She has a unique voice.

I really wish more people will start reading her work. I look forward to reading her collection, Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea.
Daniel Polansky
A rather scattershot collection of stories and recollections from Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya, a highlight of the pre-Revolution literary scene in St. Petersburg. The writing was lovely, her stories about the eponymous interesting, this was a pleasant way to kill a subway ride to Santa Monica.
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Teffi! I only wish some of these essays had been longer. She's somehow so relatable (100 years later) but also casually drops little tidbits like the time Tsar Nicholas read one of her stories, like its nothing.
julieta
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought I was going to enjoy this book more than I did. I think I was expecting something else, it's more like a diary, than stories. The narrator, always in the first person, seems too important to everyone around her, although maybe it was like that, its annoying that everyone wanted something from her, and had read her stories, its an ego problem maybe. She is just too important, so much that she makes others less interesting, since they seem to be revolving around her.

I did like the last p
...more
Dvora
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I never heard of her until recently when a GR friend posted his review of this book. I love GR exactly for that reason. Many of the best books I've read I've found via people here who have posted reviews and drawn my attention to writers I didn't know and since they are not bestsellers, writers I might have never known.

Teffi writes beautifully. She met many interesting and influential people AND, she wrote about them. As always when it comes to Russian literature, keeping track of who's who with
...more
Jeremy
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1920s, russians
I'm kind of in love here. What an overdue find. She's a master and draws no attention to the mechanics. Chekhovian deftness, subtlely tragicomic, but also just uncomplicatedly funny. Felt sometimes like Twain or Parker or Saunders. But with a shrewd talent for characterful mimesis: her Merezhkovskys jumped right off the page and engaged like the Verdurins or Norpois or de Charlus. Absolutely adored both this and 'Memories,' and eager for Chandler et al to please hurry and translate more, much mo ...more
Pelks
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love memoirs. I don't care how true-to-life they are. I love other people's emotional snapshots of times, places, friends, etc. This one is now one of my new favorites, and some of the early chapters actually made me laugh out loud. Highly recommended if you like memoirs and/or Russian literature.
Stephen Hull
This book sounded like a potentially fascinating read: a collection of short reminisces by a talented humourist who lived in interesting times. Teffi grew up in a well-off family in imperial Russia, was active in the left in the years leading up to the 1917 revolutions, became an émigrée in Paris and remained in France throughout World War II. She was clearly a talented and perceptive writer – and yet this book largely failed to deliver what I had anticipated.

It's not the style: this sort of qui
...more
Michael Samerdyke
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a delight, and I wish it had been two or three times its length.

Teffi can be outrageously funny, and she can be sad. She is always perceptive and honest.

The essays about her childhood are gems that reveal the nonsense that children believe, especially in the face of facts and relatives.

Her Tolstoy essay is a trifle -- how she, at age 13, met the Great Writer in hopes of persuading him to rewrite "War and Peace" but stammered, became embarrassed, and never asked him.

The Rasputin piec
...more
Carolyn Harris
The selected writings of early 20th century Russian humourist Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya whose work was admired by both Czar Nicholas II and Lenin. Her essays are very entertaining as she wrote about her career as writer and the interesting people she met both in Czarist Russia and in exile in the style of Mark Twain. Highlights include her fun poem about the Governor of Saint Petersburg's misguided efforts to fill in the Catherine canal, which amused Czar Nicholas, her efforts to go behind the scene ...more
georgia bookblast
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Teffi’s portrait of Rasputin, and her description of his unwanted advances, is a disturbing reminder of how sex-pests using positions of power to get their dirty way are not a new phenomenon. All of the women saying #MeToo on Twitter are standing on the shoulders of the women who came before them.

Reviewed on The BookBlast® Diary 2017
Jane
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Best of Teffi is just that: the best. She knew everyone worth knowing, went everywhere worth going and wrote it all down in her memoirs. Her pen portraits of Russian writers and artists are as clearly drawn as a drawing by Ingres, while her social commentary on the Bolshevik revolution makes me wish she were alive today to write about the current political situation.
Longhare Content
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This short book contains Teffi's auto- and quasi-autobiographical essays and stories. Fascinating for her accounts of life inside Russia just before and during the revolution, including one of creepy, frightened Rasputin and his unaccountable charisma.
Lauren
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
The Rasputin essay was amazing. Some of the others have just faded with time. You would need to be a serious Russian historian to appreciate some of the people discussed.
Seosamh Rankin
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short, sweet and endearing tales from the author's life in Russia - extremely nostalgic.
T. Rhodes
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I delightful discovery! Another fantastic woman writer to add to my collection. I cannot wait to read more of her works!
JacquiWine
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite reads from last year was Subtly Worded, a fascinating collection of short stories and reminiscences by the esteemed Russian writer, Teffi. Having enjoyed this book so much, I was delighted to hear that Pushkin Press would be publishing two more works by Teffi in 2016: Rasputin and Other Ironies, which brings together the best of Teffi’s non-fiction pieces, and a memoir, Memories – from Moscow to the Black Sea. (Both books are now available and are also published in the US by ...more
Vivek Tejuja
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books are just so good that you want them to last longer than they did – to savour them, every single word then become precious. Teffi is one such author whose works you just want to soak in and want the words to linger long after. I got to know of her through the NYRB website and knew I just had to read this one – because of the author’s associations with literary giants such as Tolstoy and how she got to meet the very famously infamous Rasputin, not once but twice.

Teffi’s experiences are
...more
Ciaran Monaghan
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was bought for me as a gift and, whilst Teffi was not an author I had heard about before, as a Russophile it was a welcome addition to my collection. Written at various times, the collection comprises a series of short pieces about her life, starting in early childhood.

Teffi is apparently famous for her writing style and the tone is great, written with dry, sarcastic humour. Many of them made me laugh. I was most impressed from a biographical perspective though. She lived with, worked with
...more
Libellus
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me: The Best of Teffi by Teffi (Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya)
Edited by Robert Chandler and Anne Marie Jackson
May 2017
4,5/5
*Read in English from the original Russian, translation by Rose France and Elizabeth Chandler

I finished this book over three months ago, therefore I cannot give my best and usually long review of it. However, I will say that this book lives with you long after reading it. There is something about the penmanship of Teffi that makes you feel right at hom
...more
Christopher Taylor
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Teffi (aka Nadezhda Lokhitskaya) came from a wealthy Russian family and wrote plays and humorous pieces for magazines at the turn of the twentieth century (and thereafter). This is a collection of short fiction, personal essays and memoirs that covers a wide range of subject matter, all of it based in Teffi's time and life (1872 – 1952). The style is fluid and clear but too many of the pieces are very light in tone and subject matter. There is virtually nothing in this book that is likely to ent ...more
Andrew Cooper
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting memoirs, yet not-quite-memoirs of sorts, recalling time during Teffi's childhood, early years and later years. They aren't quite autobiographical as she sometimes writes herself as one of her sisters in the stories, but other times provides quite poignant memoirs of meeting Rasputin + others.

She does keep it interesting. Quick read and often humorous read, but never with any great action or gripping scenes. A strange little book.
Emily Snyder
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps a quick read, but one that certainly does not leave you quickly. "The Gadarene Swine" and "Rasputin" are both unreal, at once absorbing and powerful and yet still a showcase of the quirk and humor of Teffi. Those two are not to be missed.
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NYRB Classics: Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me: The Best of Teffi 3 27 May 03, 2016 08:17AM  

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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's sad to wander about the graveyard of my tired memory, where all hurts have been forgiven, where every sin has been more that atoned for, every riddle unriddled and twilight quietly cloaks the crosses, now no longer upright, of graves I once wept over.” 1 likes
“It's sad to wander about the graveyard of my tired memory, where all hurts have been forgiven, where every sin has been more than atoned for, every riddle unriddled and twilight quietly cloaks the crosses, now no longer upright, of graves I once wept over.” 0 likes
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