Thursday, December 18, 2014

Teffi's Subtly Worded

Some quotations from Pushkin Press's new book by Teffi, Subtly Worded.

"His wife had the hurt and confused look of someone who is constantly being scolded."

"His daughter's large nose slanted slightly to the right, dragging along with it a squinting left eye that peered at the world with suspicion."

"I don't think I've sniffed five kopeks from you since Christmas."

"He's ambitious--even excessively ambitious.  He wants to become a provocateur, but he doesn't know a single revolutionary song."

"The poet was someone very interesting.  He has not yet written any poems--he was still trying to come with a pen name..."

"Oh!  What a woman can get away with when she's wearing a hat like this!  Things that a woman wearing any old hat wouldn't even dare to dream of."

"Varenka felt rich and important, and modestly pursed her lips sot that the passers-by she had splashed with mud would not be too jealous."

"The web was obviously a hammock for flies."

"A fat May-bug, drunk on sunshine, had crashed into Lisa's forehead and fallen to the ground."

"Nanny, I'll never die, will I?  I'll eat lots of soup, and drinks lots of milk, and I'll never die.  That's right, isn't it?"

"They live righteously.  They speak little, and because both are hard of hearing, they both have their say."

"Yes, peasants are peasants.  Is a peasant going to try to eat less?"

"The bee may be a simple, humble creature--but all the same, on her name day she doesn't buzz."

"There once was a life.  It was lived out and it finished."

"She thought about her husband--who was handsome and no good."

"At least we'll still be alive.  Not everyone today can boast of having living relatives."

"That's pretty rich, too. He accredited himself as ambassador to Japan."  "Who appointed him?" "Know one knows."

"You must know waht Tyutchev said all those years ago:  'You cannot understand Russia with your mind." And since the human body has no other organ of understanding all we can do is throw up our hands in despair."

"We--les russes, as they call us--live the strangest of lives here, nothing like other people's.  We stick together, for example, not like planets, by mutual attraction, but by a force quite contrary to the laws of physics--mutual repulsion."

"Rasputin seemed to me to lack the steadiness needed to manage any kind of strategy. He was too twitchy, too easily distracted, too confused in every way."

"I don't know what [Rasputin] was like at the beginning of his trajectory, but by the time I met him, he was already adrift."

"It was like looking through a microscope at some species of beetle.  I could see the monstrous hairy legs, the giant maw--but I knew it was really just a little insect."

"It's Rasputin's doing," People were saying, "Who else?"  "What's he got to do with it?"  "He profits from everything black, evil, and incomprehensible."

"Raputin was now leaping about like a goat.  Mouth hanging open, skin drawn tight over his cheekbones, locks of hair whipping across the sunken sockets of his eyes, he was dreadful to behold."

"The fools don't understand who I am.  A sorcerer?  Maybe I am.  They burn sorcerers, so let them burn me.  But there's one thing they don't understand:  if they kill me, it will be the end of Russia.  Remember my clever girl:  if they kill Rasputin, it will be the end of Russia.  They'll bury us together."