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ANYUTA / FeJJi Translated from the Russian by Nina Kennedy Teffi was the pseudonym, taken from a Kipling character, of Nadezhda Alexsandrovna Buchinskaya (1876-1952), author of over twenty books of stories, plays, and poems. Several were published in old Russia, more in Paris, a few in other European cities. Because of a divorce in Russia separating her from two daughters (after which she began writing) and a long love affair in France, Teffi always was reticent about her personal life. "I was born," she once said, "in Petersburg in the spring, and as one knows, our Petersburg spring is extremely changeable; either the sun shines or it rains. That is why I have two faces, like Greek masks, a laughing and a weeping one." She laughed in many humorous or gently satiric stories and cried in others about neglected children, mistreated animals, and lonely persons. From 1906 to the Revolution she experienced her great popularity in Russia, so much so that a candy with her name on the wrapper and a perfume were named for her. Her feuilletons appeared in a number of periodicals, especially in the widely read New Word. The tsar read these aloud to his family. Lenin, with whom in the early days she had been associated on New Life, so admired her work that he ordered her stories and sketches reprinted in Pravda from Russian-language periodicals in Paris, to which she contributed almost weekly for thirty years. Russian theaters staged her plays, sparkling with wit, which later in Paris were collected as Plays. Her poems were inferior to those of her sister Mirra Lokhvitskaya, winner of three Pushkin Prizes. Her Reminiscences trace amusingly her flight southward from Russia through Turkey to France, with her friend Ivan Bunin and other writers, to their natural intellectual goal in Paris. But Teffi will be remembered by her stories, collected in many volumes, such as Twilight Day (from which "Anyuta" is taken). Some have been reprinted in Russian and one, AU About Love, published in English. Something of a coquette, Teffi appeared always immaculately coiffed and stylishly dressed. In writing she drew upon her homeland memories but especially upon her keen observations of life in the Russian "small town" within Paris. A Soviet writer, O. Mihailova, termed Teffi the foremost among the few women writers in the history of Russian literature. The ship is moving, Anyuta; The lilac is blooming! 92 ยท The Missouri Review EVERY SUNDAY DURING WINTER all the townspeople emerged after an early dinner to walk along the main street. And Anyuta Samsonova, the contractor's daughter, ventured out also. In her hat of Persian lamb, hands in her muff, and eyes lowered, she was all round and firm as a young turnip. She walked as did everybody else to the monastery bridge and then back to the bazaar. Many persons strolled along the street: clerks with their wives, merchants' daughters with girl friends, store clerks, and girl students of the secondary school. They stamped their feet; they slipped on the icy wooden sidewalk. The middle of the street was empty, because the peasants did not come to town on holidays, and the townspeople had nowhere to drive. Thus the mayor's son, Kolka Motokhin, could drive his racing sled there while breaking in his ragged thick-maned stallion. His hat set at an angle, wearing a dashing sheepskin coat trimmed with Morocco leather, Kolka rode skillfully with legs far apart. The stallion shook his head and clattered his hooves, throwing showers of snow in all directions. Townspeople with disapproving eyes followed Kolka's disappearance down the street. Anyuta, lips pressed together, lowered her eyes and walked along without turning her head. At eventide, when the monastery bells were outlined in their high tower by a pencil-thin golden gleam against a pale pink sky, the townspeople began returning home. Kolka Motokhin, with slack reins, walked his steaming stallion and greeted acquaintances in military fashion with hand at his temple, palm turned out. Anyuta, without looking at him directly, just slightly bowed her head. On Sunday, the third week of the pre-Easter fast, Anyuta had just walked out to the main street, not wearing her fur...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 92-96
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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