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Teffi

Teffi

Teffi (1872–1952) was the pen name of Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya, a Russian artist who wrote poems, plays, stories, satires and feuilletons, and was renowned for her wit and powers of observation. She was born in St. Petersburg into a distinguished family that treasured literature. She and her three sisters all became writers. Teffi wrote in a variety of styles and genres: political feuilletons published in a Bolshevik newspaper during her brief period of radical fervor after the 1905 Revolution; Symbolist poems that she declaimed or sang in Petersburg literary salons; popular one-act plays, mostly humorous or satirical—one was entitled The Woman Question; and a novel titled simply Adventure Novel. Her finest works are her short stories and Memories, a witty, tragic, and deeply perceptive account of her last journey across Russia and what is now Ukraine, before going by boat to Istanbul in the summer of 1919. She settled in Paris, where she became a leading figure in the émigré literary scene. Teffi was widely read; her admirers included not only such writers as Bunin, Bulgakov, and Zoshchenko, but also both Lenin and the last tsar. In pre-Revolutionary Russia, candies and perfumes were named after her; after the Revolution, her stories were published and her plays performed throughout the Russian diaspora. She died in Paris.

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