SNOW: Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others and Me by Teffi

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Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me: The Best of Teffi (New York Review of Books Classics, 2016)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

I can thank Women in Translation Month for my introduction to Russian author Teffi, born Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1872. Last year, the New York Review of Books published two translations of her work, Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea, an account of her last few months living in the Russia and the Ukraine before she was forced into exile in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, and Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others and Me, a collection of autobiographical short stories that span everything from her flirtations with Rasputin to life as a writer in the months before the Russian Revolution. I chose the latter collection because I’m a sucker for Rasputin, but these stories delve so much deeper – into the difficulties of motherhood, finding a place for art in revolution, and discussions of power and powerlessness as a woman at the turn of the century – and they accomplish all that with a stunning balance of humor and poetic language. Suffice to say, I devoured these stories in a weekend, and I have plans to snag a copy of Memories at the next appropriate moment. Continue reading

Editor’s Note: Introducing SNOW

Special Feature 1: SNOW

Writing from the northernmost reaches of the globe

Though I live now in a place of mild, drizzly winters where the trees stay green and the sidewalks clear even in the middle of January, as a child I spent nearly six months of every year trapped inside, gazing out the window at a landscape of ice and snow. I was raised in northern Vermont, about an hour south of Montreal and a few hours north of anywhere notable, and I still remember vividly the slate grey winter sky, the long sheets of black ice over asphalt, the high, squeaking sound of boots against snow when the temperature dipped below zero and even the packed ice screamed from the cold. Continue reading