“My life is a joke, and then – the tragedy of the” memory of Hope taffy

In her stories looking for a light fun read, allowing you to relax and escape from everyday life. And found wisdom, goodness, and mercy – and that is exactly what all truly missed. In very challenging times she generously gave joy to thousands of his compatriots scattered around the world. 66 years ago in Paris ended the earthly journey of Hope the Russian army, better known as taffy.

  • Ivan Shmelev: Where is our happiness?
  • Russa bianca — Maya Alexandrovna Countess Fersen
  • Rostislav Polchaninov: I grew up with the dream of Russia
  • Your lordship’s honour — together on the Sainte-geneviève-des-Bois
  • Lieutenant Bolubash: French Russian hero

Laughter instead of tears

The summer of 1919. Novorossiysk. On the embankment by the ship “Great Prince Alexander Mikhailovich” vanity, the farewell shouts, urgent instructions and promises… a Minute, another – and filled to overflowing the boat, then begins to sail away, leaving behind two bands – white water and black in the sky.

Native shores is over. Ahead, as long as gets the look – the unknown distance, a vast expanse. Each of the passengers of this huge colossus in the depths of the soul hoped that the need to break the link with home, family, friends, to turn your whole life upside the head – if not a nightmare, it is a temporary measure, and for a bit everything will be back on track… Among the leaves was the famous taffy, behind which remained unprecedented popularity and universal love. The past seemed implausible brilliant. The future was terrifying unknown…

Before the revolution the capital of Russia – Moscow and Peter – I went to taffy crazy. For her shoot, she admired, she was a welcome guest at all social gatherings. Recalled that around it even formed a host of fans, dubbed the “slaves” who fought among themselves for the right to sit or lie down at the feet of “the mistress”.

Chocolate candy “taffy” sold out immediately, a perfume of the same name enjoyed great demand.

What to say, if the Emperor Nicholas II, discussing whose works he would like to see in the album for the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, exclaimed: “taffy! Only her. No one but her, don’t. One Taffy!”

About the reasons for this overwhelming popularity is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the atmosphere is so tense, and the uncertainty of the future was so oppressive that “discharge” was physically necessary. Laughter in such cases, it helps perfectly. Perhaps, on the contrary, the carelessness of the society reached its climax, about the complex twists and turns of domestic and foreign policy to think not like, and wanted to live here and now – and as cheerfully as possible.

However, we will leave these arguments to the historians. It is important only to fix: although the heyday of satire was not the best (after the events of 1905 began a series of dark reactions, known in history under the name of “Stolypin”), this genre was in demand as never before. In 1908, started to go out the magazine “Satyricon”, under the leadership of Arkady Averchenko. The edition quickly gained popularity with the reading public.

As rightly pointed out by one of the researchers, “not Gogol’s “laughter through tears”, and laughter instead of tears – that was the position Satiricon”. Sasha Grey, Arkady Bukhov, Kuprin with parodies, green with wonderful stories, almost all major poets, and even Bunin sometimes found Averchenko fee and hospitable shelter. It is not surprising that the composition of the magazine’s staff came in and taffy.

One of her favorite aphorisms, which became the epigraph of the first volume of “Humorous stories” (1910), was the idea of a sixth part of the “Ethics” of Spinoza: “For laughter is joy, and therefore in itself good.”

Presumably in 1900. Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya

In her simple stories, written simply and clearly, readers felt the main thing: a real kindness. Hard to explain not familiar with the work of taffy, what draws in her short stories: they have irony over the natural weaknesses of man, and pity for human nature, and a kind smile, and a note of sadness and lyricism, compassion, and deep compassion.

A significant milestone in the life of taffy was a job in another publishing house of the newspaper “Russian word”, which was headed by Vlas doroshevich. To the indignant remarks, “why de Teffi writes topical satires”, doroshevich wisely replied: “Not at the Arab horse to carry the water”.

“My life is a joke, and then – tragedy”

Nadia Lokhvitskaya was born on 24 APR 1872 in an aristocratic noble family. Father – Alexander – were well-known Petersburg attorney, speaker, Professor, author of scientific works. Mother – Varvara Aleksandrovna – “always loved poetry and were familiar with Russian and especially European literature”. She was French by birth, and doubtless it was from her Nadia inherited its playfulness and spontaneity.

Childhood Hopes and three of her sisters was serene and happy. Parents tried to give them a decent education and upbringing. Older sister taffy – Mirra Lokhvitskaya – early began writing poetry and quickly became popular as a poet. Her lines admired Konstantin Balmont and Igor Severyanin. Myrrh was twice awarded the Pushkin prize, it was called “Russian Sappho”. The other two sisters – Barbara and Helen – also without success, tried his hand at literature. Nadia his career started with poetry. Her first poem was printed in 1901 in the journal “North”:

I had a dream crazy and beautiful
Like I believe you
And life was calling persistently and passionately
Me to work, to freedom and to fight.

I woke up… no Doubt casting,
The autumn day looked into my window,
And the rain roared on the roof, humming
That life and that dream is funny!

In this regard, she recalled: “When I first saw his work printed, I was ashamed and unpleasant. All hoped that no one will read”. But the pull of writing has not disappeared. She wrote a fun crafty songs, came up with a tune and sang to the guitar:

My black dwarf kissed my feet,
He was always so affectionate and so sweet!
My brasletki, rings, brooches
He was removed and the trunk stored.

But the black day of sorrow and anxiety
My midget has suddenly gone up and grown:
In vain to him, I kissed his feet –
And he was gone, and the box claimed!

Gradually Nadezhda started writing.

The choice of your nickname – depending on mood, I guess – she gave two different explanations. One said that he knew of a foolish man Stephen, whom the servant for some reason called Steffi. Believing that stupid people are generally happy, she is “for the sake of delicacy” has reduced this name to taffy, making him an alias and for the first time by signing them to one-act play “Women’s issue”.

In one interview (after the premiere of this play) it was said differently: this name is related to one stupid person, and then recovering, said, that this is the name. The journalist, interrupting her, asked, whether referring to a song by R. Kipling, “Taffy was a Walesman / Taffy was a thief” (taffy from Wales, taffy was a thief). Taffy quickly agreed that the source alias was Kipling.

In his personal life was difficult and even sad. She married a pole Vladislav Buchinsky and moved to his estate near Mogilev. Family life quickly fell apart. Her husband often reproached her that she would rather cuddle a Teddy bear than cuddle their own children. Apparently, the accusations were unfounded: something like having lived in marriage for about ten years, she left two daughters and a son on the reliable husband, and took under his arm a Teddy bear, fled to St. Petersburg.

Her first book, “Humorous stories” – appeared in 1910. The popularity of taffy each day only grew. Before the revolution, the collection was reprinted 10 times. There are new stories. Theaters are willing to put her plays.

Presumably 1916. In the midst of the First world war, taffy many times went to the front and worked there as a nurse. In the photo it shows the trophies brought back from the war, including captured German rifle with a bayonet

Taffy is often called the successor to the tradition of Chekhov. However, Anton Pavlovich, as noted by critic R. Dneprov, “created a “court above” was interested in a better than what is seen, i.e. again demanded. Taffy convinced, does not call, does not judge, does not require. She’s with people she does not separate himself from them in anything… Sadness – that is the main note of her voice, bruised, smart. Sadness and non-judgment, the bitter wind of eternity, Ecclesiastes prophetic simplicity are what is closer to her…”

On the pages of her stories masterfully displayed the most diverse human types. Petty officials, journalists, travelers, laundress, Maselli and the most amazing eccentrics drawn in large strokes, but amazingly accurate and recognizable.

Taffy did not like when it was called the Joker.

“Jokes are funny only when they tell you,’ she said. – When they survive – it’s a tragedy. My life is a joke, and it means tragedy.” From funny to sad on the pages of her stories – and her biography is just one step.

Revolution – the roar and the whistle

Like most of St. Petersburg intelligentsia, it is hoped that the revolution would bring a refreshing change in life of the country. In February 1917 she met with enthusiasm. But all that followed the October, to understand and accept failed.

“We lived like in a fairy tale about the Snake Dragon, wrote Teffi – which each year had to pay 12 girls and 12 good fellows.”

She recalled: “At the black night streets, where passers-by were choked and robbed, we ran to listen to the operetta “Silva” or in the shabby cafe, full of audience in ragged, smelling like a wet dog’s coat, listened to the young poets read themselves and each other, howling with hungry voices. (…)

Everyone wanted to be “in public”… One, the house was creepy.

All the time I had to know what was being done, learn about each other.

Sometimes someone would disappear, and it was hard to find out where he is. In Kiev? Or where not coming back?

From St. Petersburg came the news: famous actress arrested for reading my stories. In Check made her the formidable front of the judges to repeat the story. You can imagine how cheerful gaiety read this humorous monologue between the two konvoinyi with bayonets. And suddenly – Oh, the joyous miracle! – after the first quivering words the face of one of the judges breaks into a smile.

“I heard this story on the evening comrade Lenin. He’s completely apolitical.”

What’s around Scarecrow, the uncertainty of the future hung like the sword of Damocles, but of despair in the lines of taffy to find. Dmitry Bykov have said: “If we look at Russian literature of all ten years, it becomes clear that a truly ready for the upcoming disaster was one taffy, which is all about humanity understood and continued to love him”.

Throughout the life of Nadezhda Alexandrovna rescued one unfailing remedy – the recipe she made it rhyme in his poem:

If the black above us stood the shadow –
We laugh, stop your moaning.

Reflecting on this time in exile, Teffi so conveys his perception of the Russian intelligentsia:

“Suffering and death, bitter arm in arm, hesitated, spun, capturing a new area, crossing boundaries of new States. Traces of tango everywhere, everywhere.

Revolution – the roar and whistle. Popped up underground. Knocked down. Dancing.

Man with bare chest and bangs-a butterfly hugged a woman of the streets. Followed the speculator, the Nouveau riche… jumped and danced. And how many of them! The whole world roared their place”.

In the atmosphere of confusion and General panic from somewhere came a “entrepreneur Guskin” with the offer to make a short tour in the warm calm Kiev. “This case really never will be” he argued.

“Not terribly fond of the word “never,” thought taffy, with the same humour by adding: – If I said that I, for example, will never have a headache, I would then probably got scared.”

But on the trip she agreed.

Lot’s Wife

“Goodbye, Moscow honey. Not for long. Only for a month. After a month I’ll be back,” wrote Teffi. Thus began her Odyssey. Through Kiev, Odessa, Sevastopol, Novorossiysk, farther from home, farther from the homeland…

“Now to return to St. Petersburg hard drive while abroad – told me. – The spring will return to their homeland. Wonderful word – spring. Wonderful word – the birthplace of… the Spring – the resurrection of life. Spring will return.”

Memories that she would write nine years later in Paris, will end with the sailing of the steamer from Novorossiysk:

“Shaking the boat, hits propeller white foam lays on the shore of the black smoke.

And quietly departs the earth.

Don’t look at her. Looking ahead, in blue the wide free space…

But the head itself is rotated, and widely open their eyes and look, look…

And everyone is silent. Only the lower deck heard a woman crying, hard, long, wailing.

When I heard such a cry? Yes, I remember. In the first year of the war. Was driving down the street in a cab the gray old lady. Hat off for the back of the head, tight fitting yellow cheeks, toothless black mouth is open, screaming dry-eyed cry – “Ah!”. And cabby is right, confused that carries this rider “ugly,” goads, whips the nag…

Yes, my dear, didn’t see the thrown? Now take me. Scary, black, dry-eyed crying. Last. Across Russia across Russia… Take me!..

Shaking the ship, spreading black smoke.

Eyes wide, the cold in them, open, look. And not depart. Broke his ban and looked around. And so, like Lot’s wife, frozen, froze forever and ever I’ll to see how quietly walks away from me my land.”

In Russia Teffi will not return. She has to live for 32 years in exile. But your gaze from a lost homeland it really will not take. What’s it like living away from what is dear to the heart taffy will write the rest of your life.

Confused, deprived of their roots, the immigrants felt strange and unnecessary. In the story “Tower” taffy says that for them there were only the familiar sky – so they would spend hours sitting silently in the Park on a bench and look up to the sky, trying to find the Big Dipper. It seemed to them, if you find it is the constellation finds a life raft in the sea surrounding the unknown. “We, Russian, for some reason it always seems that we must find the Big Dipper. What’s it to us – you don’t know, but anxiously looking for, busily twisting the neck and pointing at the constellation Orion.

Why try – no one knows.”

About the reasons of the unprecedented Exodus from Russia Nadezhda argues in the essay “On the rock Gergesenes”, based on the biblical myth of demons entered the herd of swine:

“In the East are rarely homogeneous herd. Often mixed. And the herd of pigs heresince was probably a meek, frightened sheep. Saw sheep as rushed enraged pigs were raised too.

– Our run?

– Run!

And rushed, meek, following the herd and died together.

If it were possible during this wild gallop dialogue, then he would have been is what we hear so often the last days.

– Why are we running? – ask the meek.

– All run.

– Where are we running?

– Where all.

– Why are we with them? They are not ours. Not good for us that we are with them… What do we do? We’re lost, we don’t know…

But running beside pigs know…

– …From whom you’re running?

– From the Bolsheviks.

– Weird! – suffering meek, as we are also from the Bolsheviks. Obviously, if these run – we had to stay.

…Really fleeing from the Bolsheviks. But the frantic herd flees from the truth of the Bolshevik, from the principles of socialism, equality and justice, and the meek and frightened, from iniquity, from black Bolshevik practice, from the terror of injustice and violence… Run. Plagued by doubt and run…”

Landing on the ship in Novorossiysk


In the early 1920 Nadezhda arrived in Paris.

The first piece of taffy, printed abroad, was the story “Ke fer?” – about the General Expat who, after admiring the rich houses and dressed as a crowd of unsuspecting Parisians, stood confused in the middle of Pariser Platz and sheepishly asked, “this is All well and good, gentlemen! Very much even all is well. But… ke fer? Fer-ke?” Really, what to do? How many Russian immigrants, day after day wandering around a strange city in search of work, ask yourself this question – and for weeks, for years could not find the answer. Members of noble families, smart, well-read, educated – they were forced to work as drivers, waiters, laundresses.

“Come to our refugees, emaciated, blackened by hunger and fear, refreshed and calm down, looking around, as if to establish a new life, and suddenly extinguished. Fade eyes, hands fall limp and wither the soul, the soul, facing East. Believe in nothing, expect nothing, want nothing. Died. Afraid of death, that of the Bolsheviks and died a death here.

Here we are – death by death!

Think only about what is there now. Are just interested in what comes out.

But there are so many things. You need to be saved and to save others. But so few left and will, and strength…” (“Nostalgia”).

In the brilliant capital of France to Russian immigrants turned a kind of “Town” with its own laws and interests. “Through the town flowed a river. In the old days was called the river Sequana, then the Seine, and when based on her hometown, residents began to call it “theirs Nevka”. But the old name is still remembered, as indicated by existing saying: “live like dogs in the manger – bad!”

People lived crowded (…). Was engaged in crafts. Most young people carting served as chauffeurs. People of Mature age contained restaurants or served in these restaurants: brunettes – as Roma and Caucasians blondes – little Russians.

Women sewed each other dress and made hats. Men doing each other’s debts.

In addition to men and women, the population of the town consisted of Ministers and generals. Of these, only a small part was carrier – large, primarily debt and memoirs. (…)

Residents of the capital watched them at first with interest, studied their customs, art, way of life, as interested once the cultural world of the Aztecs.

A dying breed… the Descendants of those great famous people, which… which… which are the pride of mankind!

Then the interest went out” (“Town”).

Fortunately, writing the fate of taffy in exile was successful: she worked a lot, engaged in social activities.

Her strong character coupled with the amazing ability to just look at myself and ironically – on the surrounding reality – were not allowed to give up and despair.

She was known and loved in Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Shanghai, and Harbin. For numerous Newspapers and magazines to print the story of taffy was considered a real success – because thanks to this readership immediately increased.

During this time it was compiled and published nineteen collections of short stories.

Alexander Valentinovich Amfiteatrov in 1937, wrote Teffi: “Dear! I just don’t know how we will exist, not reading You on Sundays”.

Approximately 1925. Taffy in times of emigration

Thirteen years

In the story “Funny sad” taffy with her characteristic prudence says: “the Time we experience heavy and terrible. But life, life itself is still the same laughing, many crying. Would she do that”. In the feuilleton (“Sunday”), she writes: “Our joy is so similar to our sorrow that sometimes to distinguish between them and hard.” Does this mean that we should not look for joy? Bit. This means only one thing: joy can hide in the simplest things. The ability Nadezhda Alexandrovna sincerely marvel at, admire, be astonished where others see only the commonplace, is not surprising. It lived like a small child, able to look at the world nepomucenum the eyes of the discoverer.

“I thought. He remembered how she lived last summer with friends at the estate. Remembered as the coachman brought the swamp with a scary long horned cane and told sure to show it to me. Remember, as a twelve year old boy demanded I went with him for three miles to look at some wood growth, under which, apparently, lives in some kind of animal, because even moving. And of course, I went and, of course, no growth, no animal we have found. Then the shepherd brought from the field hornet’s honey and again, I decided that I would be interested. Showed his dirty palm of some kind of brown slush. And every time in such cases, all the servants ran out to see how I will gasp and wonder. And I actually thought it was interesting. Yes, my metaphysical age was thirteen years.”

During the Second world war, the writer lived in France. The difficult years of war, the hardships she had to endure in occupied Paris, had undermined her health. V. vasyutyns’ke recalled that once, after a performance on stage at the urgent request of the public, taffy had two months to lie in bed. Despite this, she sulked, complained, didn’t get help. But the requests addressed to it, almost never refused.

“My ideal, she wrote, one old and a retired Concierge, who pretended that she has bijou et economies. Some guy believed, came and slaughtered her. Proud death, beautiful. Mining – 30 francs.”

A striking and possibly unique example in the history of Russian literature: almost all surviving memoir evidence – whoever wrote, even the most bilious people taffy appears almost angelic way.

Even Prim and haughty Bunin, to which and to approach something many feared, the soul in it doted, loved immensely. “Making nice to others, it was perhaps not the main feature of her character… Her kindness was very professional and was devoid of the slightest hint of sentimentality. She was shown always when it met the need”. “Taffy the man was larger, more significant that she wrote. Everyone who knew her was struck by her clear, sober, exposing all the dirty, bright mind…”

1946, France, around Paris. Soviet delegation meeting with writers-emigrants: the first row is left Boris Panteleymonov, to the right — Konstantin Simonov, sits to the left of Nadezhda Teffi, to the right, the third — Ivan Bunin


In 1943, in the American “New magazine” appeared an obituary in memory of taffy. “We knew that Nadezhda Teffi did not cooperate with the occupying authorities and, therefore, lived in hunger and cold… meanwhile, the health of Nadezhda Alexandrovna has not recovered after a severe illness (inflammation of the nerves of the skin), which she suffered before the war”. Obituarist paid tribute to the talent of the “late writer” and expressed hope that “the taffy will live the legend as one of the witty women of our time, then when you forget its words, essays and satires”.

After this memorable event Nadezhda lived for another nine years. Every year she kept getting worse, strength is rapidly exhausted. “Toad tore my heart” she wrote to a friend of his. “All the concepts – age (I’m older than You think), incurable disease, I certainly should die soon.

But I’ve never done what I should. And that’s live. But, honestly, tired of…”, “All my peers are dying, and I something live. Like sitting on the dentist. It causes patients clearly confusing line, and I’m embarrassed to say, and sit, tired and angry…”

At the end of September 1952, noting their birthday, taffy, as if sensing the approach of death, began to say goodbye to friends. She was 81 years old. Almost everyone she loved had left this world. It is impossible to calculate how much she spent on his last journey. Finally the queue came up to her.

She died on 6 Oct 1952. Two days later in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral of Paris, her funeral, and then buried at the Russian cemetery Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois. Over her grave one of the friends recited the poem itself taffy:

It is night, sail on black sails
A silver ship with a purple border.
But people don’t realize that he came after me,
And say: “Behold, the moon plays on the waves…”

Black Seraphim with three pairs of wing,
He throws sails over the starry silence.
But people do not understand that he sailed with me
And say: “Here it is died today…”

“Tears – pearls of my soul”

By exact observation of Mikhail Zoshchenko, Teffi was opened “the mystery of the laughing words.” “In fact, when I sit down, ready my story all the way through from the first to the last letter, – she explained. – If at least one thought, one phrase is not clear to me is that I can’t take up the pen. In short, the most vivid and intense process of creation passes before I sat at the table. It’s a game. It is a joy. Then the work begins. Boring. I’m very lazy, and my handwriting is hideous. Distracted. Miss letters, syllables, words. Sometimes I start reading and I don’t know what it is. In addition, all the time drawing with a pen all sorts of faces…”

In his best works she was able to combine in a unique, known for her proportions, laughter and tears.

Artistic method taffy about can be described as follows: on the one hand, it ultimately brings us closer to the reality of the world, with all its defects and diseases, on the other – dissolves in laughter our disgust and even contempt.

In the autumn of 1914 was published a sad and touching story taffy “Yavdokha”. It was about a lonely old woman, so dark and not able to grasp the essence of what is happening that when she received the news of the death of his son, could not even fathom what had happened, only wondering – will he send her money or not. Accustomed to the light and comic tales taffy the audience immediately angrily attacked her, and one newspaper even dedicated “Yavdokha” two satires, which were indignant with the writer, allegedly laughing at human misery.

– What’s so funny finds Mrs. taffy! – outraged newspaper and quoting the most sad places of the story, repeating: – And this, in her opinion, ridiculous?

And it’s too funny?

In the Preface to the book “the Lifeless beast”, which was published referred to the story, Nadezhda replied: “the Newspaper probably would be very shocked if I told her she didn’t have one. But how could I tell?

And that’s the goal of this Preface is to warn the reader: in this book, many unhappy.

Warn about it, to seek laughter, finding here the tears – the pearls of my soul – turning, rend me.”

*** *** ***

They often say that the Russian people are too serious. Too focused on global and important problem. Too burdened with a sense of responsibility for the possible wrong decision. Too self-absorbed. So that instead of the question “How are you?”, with a smile, to be coined: “Just wonderful!” (as does all “civilized” humanity), begins to answer how he’s doing! Well done, if we have the best Comedy no drama no cost, and the favorite songs is certainly about how “a bullet wounded to the heart”, and “jinka married friend”… So we need laughter as medicine.

Too itself seriously expensive and dangerous to health. When all around is drowning in grey colors, and the events do not inspire optimism, it is helpful to try to look at them and then at myself in them from outside – as if everything important has already happened. And to find at least one detail over which you can truly laugh. It is only through a good laugh (read – good), which is often through tears, you can understand all about humanity and continue to love him.

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