An Amazing Coincidence
When I read Teffi’s essay on Rasputin in Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me: The Best of Teffi, couldn’t help comparing the dread Siberian starets to an American political figure in the news. Here are three instances, from which you can draw your own conclusions:
The Black Automobile
According to Teffi:
The “Black Automobile” remains a mystery to this day. Several nights running this car had roared across the vField of Mars, sped over the Palace Bridge, and disappeared into the unknown. Shots had been fired from inside the car. Passers-by had been wounded.
“It’s Rasputin’s doing,” people were saying, “Who else?”
Dealings with Women
Teffi was seated next to Rasputin, who tried to get her to have some wine:
Rasputin was drinking a great deal and very quickly. Suddenly he leaned towards me and whispered, “Why aren’t you drinking, eh? God will forgive you. Drink.”
He kept trying to get her to drink and to come to his place, but she wisely refused.
He “Sows Discord and Panic”
Finally, Teffi writes:
He profits from everything black, evil and incomprehensible. Everything that sows discord and panic. And there’s nothing he can’t explain to his own advantage when he needs to.
Now I could add that he tweets nasty, ad hominem attacks in the middle of the night, but that would be giving it away, wouldn’t it?
Gregory Rasputin in Color
The following beguiling sketch comes from Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya—perhaps better known as Teffi—whose essay on the Siberian “holy man” is reprinted in her Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others and Me: The Best of Teffi, published by New York Review:
I had glimpsed Rasputin once before. In a train. He must have been on his way east, to visit his home village in Siberia. He was in a first-class compartment. With his entourage: a little man ho was something like a secretary to him, a woman of a certain age with her daughter, and Madame V—, a lady-in-waiting to the Tsaritsa.
It was very hot and the compartment doors were wide open. Rasputin was presiding over tea—with a tin teapot, dried bread rings and lumps of sugar on the side. He was wearing a pink calico smock over his trousers, wiping his forehead and neck with an embroidered towel and talking rather peevishly, with a broad Siberian accent.
“Dearie! Go and fetch us some more hot water! Hot water, I said, go and get us some. The tea’s right stewed, but they didn’t even give us any hot water. And where is the strainer? Annushka! The strainer—where is it? Oh, what a muddler you are!”
I love the picture of the demonic starets wearing a pink smock.
The photograph above was published by The Daily Mail, along with other interesting color pictures of Rasputin and the Tsar.
Teffi’s essay on Rasputin made me think, and you shall find out later this week exactly what it made me think about.