1946. Paris: La Presse Francaise et Etrangere O. Zeluck, . Octavo (18.5 × 12 cm). Original printed wrappers; 270,  pp. Light soil to wrappers, else about very good.
First edition. This collection of thirty short stories by the “queen of Russian humor,” Nadezhda Teffi (born Lokhvitskaia, 1872–1952) provides a satirical and at times tragicomic glimpse into Russian émigré life in interwar Paris. Teffi’s literary debut came in 1901 with the publication of a poem in the journal “Sever” (The North), with her first collection of poetry “Sem’ ognei” (Seven lights) published in 1910. Her poetic work was overshadowed by those of her older sister, Mirra Lokhvitskaia (dubbed “Russian Sapho” for the sensuality of her poetry), as well as by Teffi’s own humorous prose. Teffi’s satirical works were tremendously popular in pre-revolutionary Russia, so much so that even Tsar Nicholas II was said to be fond of her feuilletons. Honing her humorous prose Teffi became one of the principle writers for the satirical journals “Satirikon” (1908-1913) and “Novyi Satirikon” (1913-1918), an area of journalism traditionally dominated by male writers. Teffi was also immensely productive, publishing thirty collections of short stories and satirical pieces before leaving Russia in 1919.
In 1920 Teffi settled in Paris and continued to publish short humorous prose with increasingly tragicomic bent. Pirated copies of her short stories, which negatively reflected émigré life, were even published in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, supposedly on the suggestion of Lenin himself. Reflecting on Teffi’s work in this period the scholar Greta Slobin writes: “Her tales… explored he universe of exile: longing for a return, nostalgia for the motherland, loss of identity and the painful confusion of dislocation. These themes, presented without sentimentality but with a sharp irony of Russians abroad, connected her stories with the work of a younger émigré writer, Vladimir Nabokov. Both were masters in the use of language as the perfect medium for representing a clash of cultures through interlingual punning, pidgin Russian and russified French” (Russian Women Writers. Christine Tomei, ed. p.819). Despite her great lifetime popularity, Teffi’s work was neglected in the second part of the 20th century, but has enjoyed a recent resurgence in interest with a seven volume collected works published in Russian in 1998–2005. A number of her short story collections have also been published in English, including “All about Love” (Ardis Publishers, 1985) translated by Darra Goldstein.
Book ID: P6548