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Elsa Triolet, née Kagan, was born into a wealthy Russian Jewish family and learned to speak fluent French and German. She graduated from the Moscow Institute of Architecture. In 1915, she befriended poet and graphic artist Vladimir Mayakovsky, who later became involved with her sister Lilya Brik. After the start of the Russian Revolution, Elsa married a French cavalry officer, André Triolet, and went to live in France with him. About 10 years later, she met and married French writer Louis Aragon -- she helped influence Aragon to join the French Communist Party. The couple were members of the French Resistance in World War II. In 1944, she became the first woman to be awarded the Prix Goncourt for her novel Le Premier accroc coûte deux cents francs (A Fine of 200 Francs). She helped popularize Russian literature in France with biographies of Chekhov and Mayakovsky, and French translations of their work. She also compiled an anthology of Russian poetry published in 1965.
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