This lively little memoir by Elsa Triolet is a vivid and affectionate portrait of her de facto brother-in-law. I found it in the British library (in French) when I was researching a film script about the great Russian poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and decided to translate it.
Triolet was herself in love with Mayakovsky when she was a teenager, but he fell for her older sister, Lili, who was married to Osip Brik.
The inconvenience of Lili’s marital status did not deter Mayakovsky; he became great friends with husband, Osip Brik, and the three of them lived together in a menage a trois until Mayakovsky’s untimely death at his own hand, aged just 36.
Irina Padva interpreted the original Russian poetry to me, enabling me to present versions, in English, of the extracts Triolet has translated into French. (Triolet was married to Louis Aragon and wrote several novels in her adopted tongue).
The late John Rety (Hearing Eye) agreed to publish my translation and his partner, Susan Johns, spent many days patiently going through the text with me. This was the first book I ever published and the process taught me much. And so I am very grateful to John and Sue and commend this book – which can be purchased on this site – to the reader.