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Elsa Triolet (Ella Kagan) - biography

Elsa Yur'evna Triolet (September 12 (or September 24) 1896 - June 16, 1970) was a French writer.


Born Ella Kagan (Russian: Элла Каган) into a Jewish family of a lawyer and a music teacher in Moscow, she and her sister, Lilya Brik received excellent educations; they were able to speak fluent German and French and play the piano. Elsa graduated from the Moscow Institute of Architecture.

Elsa enjoyed poetry and in 1915 befriended the aspiring futurist poet and graphic artist Vladimir Mayakovsky. When she invited him home, the poet fell madly in love with her older sister Lilya, who was married to Osip Brik. Elsa was the first to translate Mayakovsky's poetry (as well as volumes of other Russian-language poetry) to French.

In 1918, at the outset of Russian Civil War, Elsa married the French cavalry officer André Triolet and emigrated to France, but for years in her letters to Lilya Elsa admitted to being heartbroken. Later she divorced Triolet.

In the early 1920s, Elsa described her visit to Tahiti in her letters to Victor Shklovsky, who subsequently showed them to Maxim Gorky. Gorky suggested that the author should consider a literary career. The 1925 book In Tahiti, written in Russian, was based on these letters.

In 1928 Elsa met French writer Louis Aragon. They married and stayed together for 42 years. She influenced Aragon to join the French Communist Party. Triolet and Aragon fought in the French anti-fascist resistance movement.

In 1944 Triolet was the first woman to be awarded the Prix Goncourt. She died, aged 73, in Moulin de Villeneuve, Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines, France of a heart attack.

In 2010, La Poste, the French post office, issued three stamps honoring Triolet.


  • На Таити (In Tahiti, in Russian, 1925)
  • Fraise des bois (in Russian, 1926)
  • Camouflage (in Russian, 1928)
  • Bonsoir Thérèse (Good Evening, Theresa - her first book in French, 1938)
  • Mille regrets (1942)
  • Le Cheval blanc (The White Horse, 1943)
  • Qui est cet étranger qui n'est pas d'ici ? ou le mythe de la Baronne Mélanie (1944)
  • Le Premier accroc coûte deux cents francs (A Fine of 200 Francs, 1945, Prix Goncourt 1944)
  • Personne ne m'aime (Nobody Loves Me, 1946)
  • Les Fantômes armés (The Phantom Armies, 1947)
  • L'Inspecteur des ruines (The Inspector of Ruins, 1948)
  • Le Cheval roux ou les intentions humaines (1953)
  • L'Histoire d'Anton Tchekov (1954)
  • Le Rendez-vous des étrangers (1956)
  • Le Monument (1957)
  • Roses à crédit (1959)
  • Luna-Park (1960)
  • Les Manigances (1961)
  • L'Âme (1962)
  • Le Grand jamais (1965)
  • Écoutez-voir (1968)
  • La Mise en mots (1969)
  • Le Rossignol se tait à l'aube (1970)

Article author: Zipora Galitski
Article tags: biography
The article is about these people:   Elsa Triolet (Ella Kagan)

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