Read Subtly Worded by Teffi Тэффи Anne Marie Jackson Robert Chandler Online

subtly-worded

A selection of the finest stories by this female ChekhovTeffi's genius with the short form made her a literary star in pre-revolutionary Russia, beloved by Tsar Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin alike. These stories, taken from the whole of her career, show the full range of her gifts. Extremely funny-a wry, scathing observer of society-she is also capable, as capable even asA selection of the finest stories by this female ChekhovTeffi's genius with the short form made her a literary star in pre-revolutionary Russia, beloved by Tsar Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin alike. These stories, taken from the whole of her career, show the full range of her gifts. Extremely funny-a wry, scathing observer of society-she is also capable, as capable even as Chekhov, of miraculous subtlety and depth of character.There are stories here from her own life (as a child, going to meet Tolstoy to plead for the life of War and Peace's Prince Bolkonsky, or, much later, her strange, charged meetings with the already-legendary Rasputin). There are stories of émigré society, its members held together by mutual repulsion. There are stories of people misunderstanding each other or misrepresenting themselves. And throughout there is a sly, sardonic wit and a deep, compelling intelligence.Pushkin Collection editions feature a spare, elegant series style and superior, durable components. The Collection is typeset in Monotype Baskerville, litho-printed on Munken Premium White Paper and notch-bound by the independently owned printer TJ International in Padstow. The covers, with French flaps, are printed on Colorplan Pristine White Paper. Both paper and cover board are acid-free and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified....

Title : Subtly Worded
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781782270379
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 301 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Subtly Worded Reviews

  • Fionnuala
    2018-11-18 22:18

    This was interesting for the contrasting accounts it provided of life among the privileged classes in Russia before the revolution and then the relative poverty of exile in Paris afterwards :We - les russes - as they call us - live the strangest lives here, nothing like other people’s. We stick together, for example, not like planets, by mutual attraction, but by a force quite contrary to the laws of physics - mutual repulsion. Every lesrusse hates all the others - hates them just as fervently as the others hate him.Teffi was born Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya in Saint Petersburg in 1872. She adopted her pseudonym from the diminutive of Stefan, Steffi. Writing as the genderless Teffi, she hoped she would catch the public’s attention for the sake of the quality of her writing alone and she did - both Lenin and the Tsar were fans of her early Humourous Stories.But she didn’t write only humourous pieces, many of her stories have a double edge. In A Radiant Easter she reveals her sharp eye for lampooning society, targeting an obsequious civil servant, bullied by his over-pompous boss, who in a fit of pique takes his frustration out on his wife, who screams at her cook, who pinches the scullery maid, who kicks the cat, which growls at the smaller cat, etc, etc.In Rasputin, she writes about various literary soirées attended by Rasputin and his entourage. The story seems to be autobiographical as the narrator, who is a guest at the same soirées, is a writer, and the people she mentions are well known writers of the time. It is the most fascinating of the Russian pieces.Other stories from the Russian section are lighter in theme, almost like the colour pieces you'd find in a magazine: The Hat is simply about how when we imagine we should look well, because, for instance, we’re wearing a new hat, we do look better than usual, but not because of the hat. Some of my favourite stories were the ones in which she recalled her childhood, especially And Time Was No More which she wrote towards the end of her life when she was taking a lot of morphine. The story describes a person revisiting their childhood home after a lifetime away, and finding everything just as they’d left it. It is really powerful.In 1945, Teffi was rumoured to have died, and an obituary was published by a New York Journal. This incident gave her the opportunity to write something rare: an obituary-response.Can someone who is weak, elderly and ailing really be expected to survive the winter - in an unheated building, on a hungry stomach, with the wail of sirens and the roar of bombs, and in a state of grief and despair? - Of course not! Obviously he had died!She lived on until 1952.....................................Edit: October 2015 after reading Pnin.I have gained a new understanding of the les russes emigrant community Teffi describes in Paris in the 1920s. She says every lesrusse hates all the others - hates them just as fervently as the others hate him. Nabokov's description of social gatherings among his compatriots in Paris, though not phrased in the quite the same terms, echo Teffi's words eerily. The Paris emigrés he describes are mutually antagonistic, either envious of each other's talent or of each other's partners and all equally unpleasant. I had thought Teffi's view jaundiced but Nabokov's confirms it perfectly.

  • Ray
    2018-11-24 18:18

    A collection of short stories by an author I have only recently stumbled across. Teffi was from the Russian middle/upper class and lived from 1872-1952. An émigré from 1919, the work in this collection comprises stories written before, during and after the Russian revolution.These stories are from the gentle, whimsical end of humour - but often with a real sting in the tail. It took me a little time to get into the pace and style of the writing but once I did I found most of the stories entertaining.My favourite is probably the story where a Generals wife walks home from the theatre through the snow, in post revolutionary St Petersburg. She is met part way home and escorted to her door by a gallant elderly gentleman. As they walk, they talk, and discover a shared enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the theatre. The lady is convinced that she has found "one of her own", a man both cultured and sophisticated - in contrast to the boorish and common Bolsheviks now in power. Only at the journeys end does she realise with a start that the kindly old man had been a theatre attendant, and that in former times she would not have noticed him, let alone talked to him.A solid 3.49/5 rounded to a 3. In my view the earlier stories are the best.

  • Aubrey
    2018-11-26 18:11

    Although, I shouldn't reproach the birds for this garrulousness. Nature gives each bird a single motif: "cock-a-doodle-doo" or "chink-chook" or just plain "cuckoo". Do you think you could get your message across with a sound as simple as that? How many times would you have to repeat yourself? Imagine that we human beings were given a single motif according to our breed. Some of us would say, "Isn't the Dnieper wonderful in the fine weather?" Others would ask, "What time is it? What time is it?" Still others would go on and on repeating that "the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection," Try using a single sentence like that to rhapsodize about the Sistine Madonna, to expound on the brotherhood of nations or to ask to borrow money. Although, maybe this is exactly what we do do and we just never realize it.I've been bandying words about psychological analysis via bibliography business of late, so it's rather nice to pick up a collection of comedic outbursts and instead find something rather more complicated and, near the end, a whole lot more provoking. It was also nice that that each and every of these stories interested in their own way, whether it was through historical reference, charming childhood witticisms, beautiful imagery of landscapes, or tracking the author's own writerly motivations through peacetime, wartime, conspiratorial flight and forlorn abandonment. These days, history is something I wish to learn from those views askew of Georges of the 19th century and The Plum in the Golden Vase of the 17th, and a Wilde-suffused Rasputin-askance Bolshevik sundered viewpoint of previously buried Russian woman of clever humor and no small bite fits the bill entirely.This general antipathy has given rise to several neologisms. Hence, for example, a new grammatical particle, "that-crook", placed before the name of every lesrusse anyone mentions: "that-crook Alimenko", "that-crook Petrov", "that-crook Savelyev"[...]New arrivals are startled to begin with, even alarmed, by this prefix."Why a crook? Who said so? Have they got proof? What did he do? Where?"And they're even more alarmed by the nonchalant reply."What...Where...Who knows? They call him a crook and that's fine by me.""But what if he isn't?""Get away with you! Why ever wouldn't he be?"And that's right—why wouldn't he?If this didn't send you dying of laughter into your keyboards, I'm sorry that my experiences do not transcribe well the effect of reading this work. You should, however, indulge anyway, for not only is this the prettiest little tome I've come across in some time (apologies, NYRB Classics, but the rotund heft of this pleasingly textured edition engages more than the smooth elegance of your flatness ever could), but it is only here that you can read "Duty and Honor" and others in their full. My humor being what it is, I snatch onto what causes me to snort myself into raptures forevermore, and finding two wholes and several partials within the contents of a single work is of note, of that I can assure.Besides the fact that the description of Teffi aka Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya as a Russian humorist is quite accurate, this is a peculiarly intriguing work because of all the experience wrapped into it. Teffi's a writer in her own right, so there's no need for me to be too concerned about public interest being limited to a "Oh, unusual woman in an intriguing period that happened to write about some of her strange existence. How quaint," and all that rot. Instead, I'm free to enjoy her (true? exaggerated? spiced up? slimmed down? who knows, they entice the reading) short story treatment of Rasputin, Tolstoy, the Stray Dog Café, the White and the Red, the alive and the dead, matching the publication date to the authorial location and the themes to what existence she must have been dwelling upon then. I wouldn't recommend my methodology to anyone looking to write a quality Teffi bibiliography (someone has got to, though. Lee? Thurman? Strouse? Anyone?) but it's a wonder what historical context will do for my reading delight. For those who enjoy the same, here's one for you.Just a warning, though. This is a collection that I'd imagine to be far from comprehensive, so what you find at the very end may not match up to the conclusion you expected from the train the editors put together. The intro hinted at it, and maybe I would've picked up on it more had I actually read the titular counterpoint of this "female Chekhov", but the tones turn dark very, very, very fast. It's a type that makes me want to pursue even more of Teffi's work, for it's not as if her previous work didn't dwell at all on aspects of death, hatred, lust, the futility of being. The matter is that, of the five chronological parts these short pieces are composed of, these more morbid and psychologically impacting threads dwell deep in the first three, surface in the fourth, and breach only in the fifth. It only strengthens my belief that if you want the comedy, you have to do the tragedy, and if you want the latter, well. You can't drag them down if you're unfamiliar with the heights they aspire to."Not a hair from his head shall fall unless He wills it."She threw back her head and pushed the black branches even further away. Her eyes swept across the thousand-starred expanse of the incomprehensible and merciless heavens."So this is who has surrounded me with a ring of fire!"She released the branches and turned around. Thoughtfully she lit the lamp and took the small box out of her suitcase."So be it. May the scorpion thrust its sting into its own breast."She smiled bitterly, as if she were weeping, the corners of her mouth turned down."If that's the way it is, then may Thy will be done."

  • Bettie☯
    2018-11-29 19:17

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05ny7p1Description: Teffi's genius with the short form made her a literary star in pre-revolutionary Russia, beloved by Tsar Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin alike. These stories, taken from the whole of her career, show the full range of her gifts. Extremely funny-a wry, scathing observer of society-she is also capable, as capable even as Chekhov, of miraculous subtlety and depth of character.There are stories here from her own life (as a child, going to meet Tolstoy to plead for the life of War and Peace's Prince Bolkonsky, or, much later, her strange, charged meetings with the already-legendary Rasputin). There are stories of émigré society, its members held together by mutual repulsion. There are stories of people misunderstanding each other or misrepresenting themselves. And throughout there is a sly, sardonic wit and a deep, compelling intelligence.1. In Marquita, translated by Robert Chandler, the shy chanteuse and single mother puts more passion into her date with a wealthy Tartar. Does her new approach succeed? Reader Hattie Morahan2. The Hat...3. ...and My First Tolstoy. Two tales, translated by Anne Marie Jackson, that deal crisply with the vanities of fashion and literary homage. Cautionary tales both!4. In Heart of a Valkyrie, translated by Anne Marie Jackson, the husband does little as his wife works all hours. The neighbours laugh at him, until a remarkable 'change' takes place..

  • Laura
    2018-11-25 23:19

    From BBC Radio 4:A series of tales by Teffi, a literary star in pre-revolutionary Russia who has been published again:1. In Marquita, translated by Robert Chandler, the shy chanteuse and single mother puts more passion into her date with a wealthy Tartar. Does her new approach succeed?2. The Hat and My First TolstoyTwo tales, translated by Anne Marie Jackson, that deal crisply with the vanities of fashion and literary homage. Cautionary tales both !3. In Heart of a Valkyrie, translated by Anne Marie Jackson, the husband does little as his wife works all hours. The neighbours laugh at him, until a remarkable 'change' takes place..

  • JacquiWine
    2018-12-14 01:20

    Last year I bought Subtly Worded, a collection of short stories by Teffi (a pen name for the Russian author, Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya). I was planning to post this review in August to link up with Biblibio’s Women in Translation event, but I accidentally pressed ‘publish’ while drafting it yesterday! My #WITMonth has started a little early.Teffi was born in 1872 into an esteemed and cultured St Petersburg family. During her literary career she wrote satirical articles and plays, but by the age of 40 she was publishing mostly short stories. In 1919, in the midst of the Russian Civil War, Teffi left Russia for Europe, eventually settling in Paris where she became a prominent figure in the émigré literary circles.The stories in Subtly Worded are grouped into five sections covering various periods in Teffi’s life starting with her early stories written before the Russian Revolution through to later stories of life as an émigré in Paris. The collection closes with a series of haunting works from the period prior to her death in 1952. As with other short story collections I’ve reviewed, I’m not going to try to cover each story in turn – rather, my aim is to give a flavour of themes along with some thoughts on the collection as a whole.Teffi began her literary career by writing a series of satirical pieces and her talent for wit is evident in the early stories included here in Subtly Worded. ‘Will-power’, the story of an alcoholic who puts his inner mettle to the test, is tinged with irony. And in ‘The Hat’, one of my favourite stories from this collection, we are introduced to the poet without any poems:The poet was someone very interesting.He had not yet written any poems –he was still trying to come up with a pen name—but in spite of this he was very poetic and mysterious, perhaps even more so than many a real poet with real, ready-made poems. (pg. 35)‘The Hat’ also offers a sharp and witty insight into the ability of a stylish new hat (or any such article of clothing) to alter a woman’s mood. In this scene, Varenka is admiring herself in her new hat, ‘a deep-blue hat with a deep-blue bow and a deep-blue bird, a true bluebird of happiness.’ She is anticipating the arrival of her friend, the poet with no poems.She can be arch, she can be tempestuous, or dreamy, or haughty. She can be anything – and whatever she does she can carry it off with style. (pg. 36)This story, which ends on an amusing note, seems to typify much of Teffi’s work from this periodTo read the rest of my review, click here:https://jacquiwine.wordpress.com/2015...

  • Antenna
    2018-12-12 21:51

    The Russian writer Teffi's satirical short stories, "funny on the outside but tragic" within, remind me of Saki's, but without his cruel streak. Her opening lines often contain an intriguing hook: "The Christmas party was fun.... There was even one boy who had been flogged that day-"To some extent tracing her own life from inquisitive child, through vivacious girl to philosophical old woman, her themes are varied, but tales from before the Russian Revolution tend to focus on people's characters and situations: the way those who have been badly treated take it out on the next person in the pecking order, ending with the child who kicks the cat which can only "pour out her grief and bewilderment to the dustbin"; the young woman who goes out in a burst of confidence, believing that her new blue hat will make her attractive. Teffi was good at portraying children: the little girl so struck by a toy ram's "quite human... meek face and eyes" that she "sticks his face into a jug of real milk", until an empathetic grown up explains, "Live milk for the living. Pretend milk for the unliving".I am most impressed by the tales from her exile in Paris, after the Russian Revolution. "Subtly worded", source of the collection's overall title, is particularly clever, revealing how expatriates have to dissemble in letters back home to "guarantee" that their correspondents will "not be arrested and shot" for having received them. Advice is on the lines of "You should have written as a woman. Otherwise your brother will arrested" for his relationship to a man "who has evaded military conscription. Second, you shouldn't mention having received a letter, since correspondence is forbidden. And then you shouldn't let on that you understand how awful things are here."A thread of the supernatural and folk tradition runs through some tales: Moshka the carpenter, reputed to have been dragged off by the Devil and returned from the dead as one of "the kind that walk". The fact he is Jewish adds a sting to this tale of rural prejudice.Stories from her final years when she was poor and ailing are poignant, yet still questioning: in "And time was no more" an old woman, modelled no doubt on Teffi herself, observes, "the beauty of flowers attracts the bees that will pollinate them but what purpose does the mournful beauty of sunset serve?" If the stars give a person in pain a sense of his own insignificance, why should he be expected "to find comfort" in this "complete and utter humiliation"? There is something refreshingly honest and enduring in these thoughts.It is good that the reprinting of these stories goes a little way to restoring her former considerable fame.

  • Marc Gerstein
    2018-11-23 22:02

    I'd never heard of Teffi but it turns out that's my bad. Any Russian author whose fans included both Nicholas II and Lenin can't be ignored.Theres a lot to admire in her work especally if like me, you are into satire. Her work is simple, straightforward and quite sharp; a combination, I'd say, of Juvenal (ancient Rman satirist), with occassional dashes of what Raymond Carver would later do (show-don't-tell minimalism) and O'Henry. For fans of Russian history, the story of Rasputin's aggressive effort to seduce a female writer (who, in this based on-life-story, was, actually, Teffi herself) is not to be missed. The title story, "Subtly Worded" may seem simplistic at first glance but it's actually one of the sharpest pieces inthe collection. The drawbacks, to me, are Teffi's last works. Maybe I'd have appreciated them more has I encountered them separately from this collection, but as I read them, they seeemd annoyingly at variance with and more self consciosuly artsy than those that make up the bulk of the collection.

  • Stacey
    2018-12-05 16:54

    A brilliant collection. Teffi takes you to a different world - from a child's real-life nightmare, to a dinner party with Rasputin or a witty observation of émigré life in Paris, giving each story real feeling and a true sense of being in that moment/ place / time. An excellent translation, finding parallels in English for Russian wordplay and irony. Expert storytelling and very quotable... "...Once you made out that there are five doors through which one can escape the terror that is life: religion, science, art, love and death.""Yes, I think I did. But do you realize that there is a dreadful force that only saints and crazed fanatics can defeat? This force closes all these doors; it makes man revolt against God, scorn science for its impotence, turn a cold shoulder to art and forget how to love... it makes death, that eternal bogeyman, come to seem welcome and blessed. This force is pain. Torturers the world over have always known this."

  • Fiona
    2018-11-24 22:08

    Never having heard of this author, I started reading this book with no real idea what to expect. But I'm so glad that I took the gamble and bought this book. Teffi is a very talented writer, and these short stories showcase her skills. Such a wide variety of stories - everyone would be able to find at least one that they like - and I enjoyed all of them. I think my favourite would have to be 'The Lifeless Beast', a poignant tale of a small girl neglected by her parents who finds comfort in her toy ram. And I loved reading Teffi's account of her meetings with Rasputin. He's such a famous historical figure and it was interesting to find out what he was like in everyday life. This book is well worth the read.

  • Steven Heywood
    2018-11-29 20:50

    Mostly a collection of vignettes rather than short stories, with the emphasis on a finely-described examination of people's reactions to the world around them. This collection includes the best pen-portrait of Rasputin that I've ever read.

  • Anca
    2018-12-02 21:50

    I skipped around a lot in this book, which I wanted to love more. What kept me coming back, other than my interest in Russian emigres fleeing the revolution, was the luscious detail. This was especially true of the last story, with prose so gorgeous I nearly copied out the whole thing.

  • Kylie Q
    2018-11-16 22:06

    OOF!!!

  • Alice Sather
    2018-12-05 17:10

    Teffi is an incredible story teller. Some, written in the days before and after the Russian Revolution of 1917, strike a sad chord with me in the U.S. now. But my rating of the quality of her writing is not based upon this. She is just very much worth reading! What I wonder - why didn't we read her in college classes?

  • Allie
    2018-11-15 20:56

    I definitely would not have picked this up but for my 2015 reading challenge. It is a book of short stories by Teffi, a Russian writer and humorist who was extremely popular in her day. There were definitely some gems in the mix, particularly The Lifeless Beast. I am going to add that to my repertoire of good single short stories to recommend. I also enjoyed her account of meeting Rasputin, the titular story "Subtly Worded," and "My First Tolstoy." Unfortunately my interest flagged by the end of the book. I'm not sure if it's because of the subjects of the pieces or me wanting to be done with the book. Probably both.I read this for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge! Task 19: A book that was originally published in another language! And technically I already read one originally published in another language (The Strange Library), I'm trying not to double dip.

  • Terri Jacobson
    2018-12-01 19:15

    Teffi is the pen name of the Russian writer Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya. She was a writer in pre-revolutionary Russia, and escaped to France in 1920 when Lenin took power. This book is a collection of both short stories and essays. Teffi is known for her humor, but there is almost always a sad underpinning to her stories. She writes essays about such things as the two times she met Rasputin, and about how careful emigres had to be in writing letters back home to Russia. Teffi is sometimes called the female Chekhov. I felt this book gave me real insights into Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. Definitely a worthwhile reading experience.

  • Calzean
    2018-12-15 19:11

    Some of these short stories were very short. Some were real stories from Teffi's life. Some were humorous and some were dark. The book traces life for Russians from pre-revolution days to the late 1940s. I thought the earlier stories were more uplifting while the later ones were more about reflections of lives lived. The autobiographic story of Teffi's meetings with Rasputin was fascinating, unique and insightful.

  • Kirk Johnson
    2018-12-12 19:54

    As elegant a writer as Penelope Fitzgerald, Teffi is here published in an edition to match. I immediately fell in love with both Teffi and Pushkin Press.

  • 50 a year
    2018-11-17 18:11

    An awesome collection of short stories written in pre- and post-revolutionary Russia, by a female writer I'd never heard of before!This book is divided into several parts, based on different periods of Teffi’s (and Russia’s) life. Part One includes stories written before the Russian Revolution; Part Two is from 1916-19, dealing with the revolution and civil war; Part Three is from the 1920s and 30s when Teffi lived in Paris; Part Four includes her more magical tales from the 1930s; and Part Five includes her final stories (perhaps the saddest and most powerful of them all). Read my full review on my blog:http://www.50ayear.com/2016/05/06/14-...

  • Zygmunt
    2018-12-11 00:09

    While the many wonderful stories in this collection are in fact subtly worded as advertised, caveat emptor: the numbering in it is anything but subtle. For example, every story ends with a single year. Where's the annual ambiguity? Is a duration not delicate too? Yes, I work with numbers for a living, why do you ask?

  • Mad
    2018-12-15 17:56

    Wonderful collection of short stories, essays and extended anecdotes from Russian writer Teffi (1872- 1952); some hilarious, some very moving and some deeply unnerving. The stories include a hilarious account of meeting Rasputin. His attempts to seduce her/lure her over to his gaff failed miserably and she is completely scathing in her descriptions of him.

  • Margret Fullded
    2018-11-29 18:14

    I began reading it without knowing anything about Teffi. Real discovery. I particularly enjoyed the short story that gave this book its title, "Subtly worded", absurd and as funky as tragic. The tale or her accounter with Raspoutine is also amazingly funny and fascinating.

  • John Levon
    2018-12-12 01:17

    A lot of these short stories are exceedingly short, and rather flimsy - think a Russian Saki. The later, more literary ones, have more meat on their bones, and are much better. And the Rasputin reportage is obviously interesting.

  • Tommie
    2018-11-30 01:13

    Certain stories great (Rasputin for one), others fine but not exactly anything to get excited over

  • Leslie Ann
    2018-11-25 17:15

    I read a few of the stories, including her sketches of Rasputin and Tolstoy. The biographical sketches are okay, but I really enjoyed "The Dog".Dates: 19 Aug - 6 Sep 2016

  • Mark
    2018-11-26 17:55

    Don't believe the rapturous reviews: these stories are boring and conventional, almost as bad as Irene Nemirovsky's.

  • Sarah
    2018-12-14 00:00

    What once was considered humorous and pointed has sadly been lost in translation....

  • Maia
    2018-11-18 22:13

    i liked this. The dull raskolnikov thing is the worst, the rest are good fun, but one, about a child who becomes very fond of a toy ram, is a masterpiece. Read that whatever you do

  • Wendy
    2018-11-30 16:53

    Full of surprises, among them a fascinating story of the author's encounters of Rasputin, who comes across as cunning and demented and only enabled by the credulity and fear of his willing prey.

  • M
    2018-11-26 18:15

    A charming collection of short stories that sit in a happy triangle between Saki, O. Henry, and Edna Ferber – except Russian.