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Subtly Worded

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Subtly Worded by Teffi
Dec 02, 2014 | ISBN 9781782270379
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  • Paperback $18.00

    Dec 02, 2014 | ISBN 9781782270379

  • Ebook $11.99

    Dec 02, 2014 | ISBN 9781782270836

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“In the years leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Nadezhda Alexandrovna Buchinskaya, who used the pen name Teffi, was one of the most popular writers in Russia. . . Teffi has no Western counterpart, although . . . she’s sometimes compared to Colette or Dorothy Parker . . . a lot of people compare Teffi to Chekhov . . . she also resembles a sadder, more vulnerable David Sedaris. . . . The characters pop off the page with a flick of the pen.” — The New York Times

“At the height of her success, Russian writer Teffi (a pseudonym for Nadezhda Alexandrovna Buchinskaya) could count such polar opposites as Lenin and Czar Nicholas II as fans of her stories and plays. . . . But when she died in 1952, it was obscurity, not posterity, that followed.  . . . Now, thanks to Pushkin Press and a team of skilled translators headed by Anne Marie Jackson, English-speaking readers can appreciate her considerable talents. . . . Each story in ‘Subtly Worded is exactly that. Witty, acerbic, playful and profound, Teffi’s tales are here again, and if there is any justice, they are here to stay.” — The Minneaoplis Star Tribune

“Like Nabokov, Platonov, and many other great Russian prose writers, Teffi was a poet who turned to prose but continued to write with a poet’s sensitivity to tone and rhythm. Like Chekhov, she fuses wit, tragedy, and a remarkable capacity for observation; there are few human weaknesses she did not relate to with compassion and understanding.” — The New Yorker

“These short stories of Russian peasants, artists and lovers show few signs of their age and much that is timeless. . . Like the book’s excellent introduction, which teases a reader to want to know more about this woman’s life, these wide-ranging, brief works whet an appetite for more of her fiction.” Kirkus Reviews

“In new translations by Anne Marie Jackson, Robert Chandler and others, the stories gathered in this little volume radiate beauty and burst with the winking humor for which Teffi was always known. . . After decades of obscurity, ‘a new generation of Russian readers began to discover and appreciate Teffi’s special genius’ in the 1990s, as Jackson explains in the introduction. Now English-speaking readers can do the same, thanks to this wonder-filled little paperback from Pushkin Press.”
“Pushkin Press has done it again: made me fall in love with a writer I’ve never heard of. . . [T]here are numerous times when Teffi notes linguistic mutations or barbarities; she pays close attention to linguistic use; she can write in more registers than you might think, and is capable of being heartbreaking as well as very funny. I wish she were still alive, and I could have met her. But then I realised she would have seen right through me. I can’t recommend her strongly enough.” — Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

Table Of Contents


I – Before the Revolution

   • A Radiant Easter

   • The Corsican

   • Will Power

   • The Hat

   • Lifeless Beast

   • Jealousy

   • The Quiet Backwater

   • Duty and Honour

II – 1916-1919: Rasputin, Revolution and Civil War

   • Petrograd Monologue

   • One Day in the Future

   • One of Us

   • Rasputin

III – 1920s and 1930s in Paris

   • Que Faire?

   • Subtly Worded

   • Marquita

   • My First Tolstoy

   • Heart of a Valkyrie

   • Ernest with the Languages

IV – 1930s: Magic Tales

   • The Kind That Walk

   • The Dog

V – Last Stories

   • The Blind One

   • Thy Will

   • And Time Was No More

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