Famous French writers of Russian origin
On October 19, 1999 Nathalie Sarraute, a prominent French writer, passed away. She was born Natalya Chernyak on July 18, 1900 in Ivanovo, Russia.
Her novel The Golden Fruit is considered to be a cult novel of the modern literature. French critics called it “literary constant of the century”.
Her mother Polina Shatunovskaya was a famous litterateur, published under the pseudonym N. Vihrovsky. And her father Ilya Chernyak graduated from the University of Geneva with a degree in chemical engineering. Shortly after Natalya’s birth her parents divorced. The mother married well-known historian and journalist Nikolai Boretskiy – Bergfeld and they moved to St. Petersburg. Ilya Chernyak also remarried and moved to Paris. In 1909 Natalya also moved to Paris. There she graduated from the Sorbonne and became a lawyer. In 1925 she married lawyer Raymond Sarraute and they had three daughters – Anna, Claude and Dominique.
Nathalie wrote her first book Tropismes in the early 30s of XX century. Critics immediately pointed out that she was a talented author.
The real fame came to Nathalie after the publication of her novels, Portrait of a Man Unknown (1948), The Planetarium (1959), Between Life and Death (1968), The Use of Speech (1980) and You Don’t Love Yourself (1989). In fact, these books had begun a whole literary movement in France, so-called For a New Novel. Some of Sarraute’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages.
Nathalie Sarraute died just a year before her 100th anniversary.
There is a literary joke: “Do you like Romain Gary or Emile Ajar?”
Under both names there was a prominent French writer, two-time winner of the Prix Goncourt. Despite the fact that the author could be awarded this prize only once.
Writer’s name was Roman Katsev. He was born in 1914 in Vilna, the Russian Empire (now Vilnius, Lithuania). There is a monument to the famous French writer Romain Gary in his hometown.
About his childhood, his mother and her role in his life R. Gary wrote in his novel The Promise At Dawn.
During the Second World War, Romain was a pilot in the army of General de Gaulle. The rest of his life he fulfilled promises made to the mother. Immigrant from Russia became the French ambassador, a Knight of the Legion of Honor, he achieved fame, wealth – everything his mother dreamed about.
The most famous books written by R. Gary are The Colors Of The Day, The Roots of Heaven, The Promise At Dawn, White Dog, Lady L, Magicians, Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid. In total there are about three dozen of works.
Under the name Emile Ajar, R. Gary wrote My Dear Fellow, King Solomon and Life Before Us. Emile Ajar was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1975.
But in personal life the writer was unhappy. From 1962 to 1970 he was married to one of the most beautiful and talented women of his time – actress Jean Seberg. There were eight years of love and horror. The writer had son Alexander Diego, who wrote a book about his talented and unhappy parents.
Jean Seberg committed suicide in 1979. A year later, R. Gary shot himself in the mouth.
Lev Tarasov is the real name of the famous French writer, winner of the Prix Goncourt.
He was born in Moscow in 1911 into a very intelligent and wealthy family. After the revolution the Tarasovs moved first to Kislovodsk, then to Novorossiysk, Constantinople and finally to Paris.
In 1935 Tarasov wrote his first novel. Publisher liked it, but he did not like the author’s name – too foreign. He told the young writer to come up with a nickname.
In 1938, H. Troyat was awarded the Prix Goncourt for his novel Spider.
And in 1959, the writer was elected as a member of the French Academy. During his life Troyat had written more than 100 books, novels and biographies.
Lev Tarasov died in March 2007.
She was one of the most remarkable women of the XX century, the younger sister of Lilya Brik.
Elsa was born in 1896 in Moscow. In 1918, she married French officer Henri Tirol and moved with him to France.
She was very pretty. Henri Matisse even painted a picture Elsa’s Eyes. One of the fans of those eyes was the famous writer Louis Aragon, whom Elsa married in 1929.
In 1944 Triolet became the first woman to be awarded the Prix Goncourt.
Elsa passed away in 1970.