Elsa Triolet


Elsa Kagan was born into a Jewish family of a lawyer and a music teacher in Moscow.  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 the Russian Civil War, Elsa married the French cavalry officer André Triolet and emigrated to France, but for years admitted in her letters to Lilya to being heartbroken. She later 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 Resistance. 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.