Elsa Triolet

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.


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