In the shadow of Lily Brik: why in Russia the name Elsa Triolet was undeservedly forgotten
In the shadow of Lily Brik: why in Russia the name Elsa Triolet was undeservedly forgotten
Elsa Triolet and Lilya Brik

About love Vladimir Mayakovsky to his cruel muse Leela Brik a lot has been written. However, it is rarely mentioned that the poet's younger sister Ella Kagan, who later became a famous writer and translator in Europe, initially aroused the poet's feeling of love. She married the French poet Louis Aragon and became famous under the name Elsa Triolet… Despite her success abroad, much less is known about her in Russia than about Lila Brik, although Elsa was in no way inferior to her. Her name was consigned to oblivion for many years, and there are several reasons for this.

Sisters Lilya Brik and Elsa Triolet

Sisters Lilya and Elya Kagan were born into the family of a Moscow lawyer and pianist. They received an excellent education, both spoke three languages ​​from childhood and were fond of literature. At one of the poetry evenings, Ella met a shocking poet, at that time little known to anyone, Vladimir Mayakovsky. He fell in love with a girl and began to look after her.

Vladimir Mayakovsky

In the house of the Kagans, the poet was treated coolly - he was not considered a worthy party for his daughter. Mayakovsky read his first poems to Ella, which she highly appreciated: "His genius was obvious to me," she later admitted. Their romantic meetings continued until, in 1915, Ella introduced the poet to her older sister, already married at that time, Lilya Brik. Lilya became a real love and muse for Mayakovsky for many years, and Ella managed to maintain friendly relations with him until his death.

Vladimir Mayakovsky and Lilya Brik

However, Ella Kagan had many prominent admirers: the futurist poet Vasily Kamensky, the famous linguist Roman Yakobson, the outstanding literary critic and critic Viktor Shklovsky. But the girl married a French officer Andre Triolet - in the troubled post-revolutionary times, he was a chance to emigrate from the country.

Elsa Triolet and Louis Aragon. Paris, 1925

After leaving the country, the girl began to call herself Elsa. The marriage with the officer soon broke up, and a few years later she married the writer Louis Aragon. Biographer Lily Marku writes: “I always focus on the huge role of Elsa, who was able to streamline the life of this genius. Both intellectually and spiritually. Elsa just saved him. Their friends told me that without her he would have committed suicide."

Elsa Triolet

Elsa Triolet was not only a muse who inspired talented men to creative achievements, but also an independent figure who achieved success in many areas. When the writing activity brought neither her nor her husband income, she made beads for Parisian fashion houses from all available means. She devoted 10 years to perfecting her French - no emigrants were published in the USSR, and she began to write in French.

Elsa Triolet and Louis Aragon Creative and family tandem

The official recognition of Elsa Triolet as a French writer was the presentation of the Goncourt Prize to her. Flattered, she wrote to her sister: "Today, in all newspapers, without exception, my face is on the first page and there are so many flowers that I can neither stand nor sit." In addition, she translated Chekhov's plays into French, compiled an anthology of Russian poetry from Pushkin to Voznesensky.

Elsa Triolet Elsa Triolet and Louis Aragon

Louis Aragon in 1927joined the Communist Party in France, and therefore at first he and Elsa were warmly welcomed in the USSR, but later Aragon opposed the persecution of Shostakovich and Solzhenitsyn, helped to release the film director Parajanov, and sharply condemned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In the 1960s, the persecution of Lily Brick began, to which Elsa reacted with several articles about the falsification of Mayakovsky's legacy, from whose archives the name of Lily Brick was deleted. Of course, after that she became objectionable and her name was forgotten for a long time. Its role in the development of Russian culture has remained underestimated.

Creative and family tandem

In 1994, the Museum of Elsa Triolet and Louis Aragon was opened in France. The event was attended by about a thousand Parisians - members of the government, writers, artists, filmmakers, journalists. There was only one film crew from Russia.

Sisters Lilya Brik and Elsa Triolet. Paris, 1959 Elsa Triolet

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