ALL ABOUT LOVE by Nadezhda Teffi


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A collection of 30 brief short stories by Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya (1872-1952), who emigrated to Paris from Russia in 1919. A popular writer in Russia, she continued to write as ""Nadezhda Teffi"" for a Russian ‚migr‚ readership. Told with a Russian style of gossipy excitation which can willy-nilly drag one into the story by the ears, these are mainly playful-to-overplayed cynical tales, usually with Parisian settings, about the sheer messiness, blazing irritations and dirty tricks of love. (For ""love"" read ""passion""--although even that is too often a nuisance.) There are plentiful stories about adultery, involving bunglers and artistes--like the seducer in ""Eternal Love"" who parlayed a train journey into nights of passion, by appealing to the married stranger's ""eternal love"" for her husband--which being ""unshakeable,"" he said, could never be harmed by a mere stopover passion. Adultery can be wildly complicated, and there are many tales of crossed letters and misdirected parcels. A spectacular fruit basket and a handful of sickly tangerines sent to the wrong parties at Christmas can have unexpected consequences. Secret diaries and ruminations bristle with murderous thoughts or syrupy passion and contrast with the spoken word and letters--while wives play, husbands are cuckholded, and love fizzles. But playing around is hard work, although the ""ladies' man"" is much preferred over the ""one-woman man"" who ""loves to philosophize. . .and if something happens, he immediately finds fault and goes and shoots his wife and children."" A few stories have venerable twists (a fabled femme fatale, discovered as an old hag; acts of kindness performed on a false premise, but sentiment is usually the target rather than the impetus. Stylized comic valentines, in a now exotic 1920's-30's setting in an uneven translation. (A struggle with a rich Russian idiom can result in: ""His wife worked like a fish beats against ice."") A dated curio, with a modicum of Russian verve and dogged irony--but certainly worth a glance.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1985
Publisher: Ardis