Troyat, Henri 1911-2007 [A pseudonym] (Lev Tarassoff)

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Troyat, Henri 1911-2007 [A pseudonym] (Lev Tarassoff)


See index for CA sketch: Born November 1, 1911, in Moscow, Russia; died March 4 (some sources say March 2), 2007, in Paris, France. Author. Troyat was an award-winning and prolific novelist who was beloved for his lengthy historical sagas. Although born in Russia, he learned to speak fluent French from his Swiss governess. When his family fled the country because of the Russian Revolution, it was thus easy for him to adapt to their new home in Paris. Here he changed his name from Lev Aslanovitch Tarassoff to Henri Troyat, attended the Lycee Pasteur, and earned a law degree. He worked for the local government prefecture in the late 1930s, while composing his early novels. His first, Faux Jour (1935), which was actually written while he was serving in the French military, won the Prix Populiste; his fourth novel, L'Araigne (1938; translated as The Web in 1984), earned the prestigious Prix Goncourt. Quitting his day job in 1942, Troyat devoted himself to writing and would go on to pen over one hundred novels, short-story collections, biographies, travelogues, and other works. He won the Prix Louis Barthou from the French Academy in 1938 and the Grand Prix Litteraire de Monaco in 1952 for La neige en deuil. Because of his clear, direct writing style, Troyat was not always a favorite of literary critics, but he was extremely popular among general readers. He loved to write multivolume sagas about families surviving difficult historical times, sometimes drawing from his own experiences in Russia and France. His lucid writing style also made his biographies popular, and he typically wrote about literary and political giants from Russian history, such as Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekov, Catherine the Great, and Ivan the Terrible; he also wrote about important French writers, including Flaubert and Balzac. A biography he wrote about Juliette Drouet, however, got him into legal trouble when in 2003 he was found guilty of plagiarism. Other than this dark chapter, Troyat enjoyed a distinguished career. He was elected to the French Academy in 1959; in addition, he was appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre National du Merité, Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, and Grandcroix of the Legion d'Honneur. He published his autobiography, Un si long chemin, in 1976.



Troyat, Henri, Un si long chemin, Stock (Paris, France), 1976.


Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2007, p. B11.

New York Times, March 6, 2007, p. C13.

Times (London, England), March 6, 2007, p. 54.

Washington Post, March 6, 2007, p. B8.

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Troyat, Henri 1911-2007 [A pseudonym] (Lev Tarassoff)

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