Nathalie Sarraute


Biography of Nathalie Sarraute

Nathalie Sarraute (July 18, 1900 – October 19, 1999) was a French lawyer and writer.

Sarraute was born Natalia Ilinichna Tcherniak in Ivanovo (then known as Ivanovo-Voznesensk), 300 km north-east of Moscow in 1900 (although she frequently referred to the year of her birth as 1902, a date still cited in select reference works). She was the daughter of Pauline (née Chatounovsky), a writer, and Ilya Tcherniak, a chemist. She was of Russian Jewish origin. Following the divorce of her parents, she spent her childhood shuttled between France and Russia. In 1909 she moved to Paris with her father. Sarraute studied law and literature at the prestigious Sorbonne, having a particular fondness for contemporary literature and the works of Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf, who greatly affected her conception of the novel, then later studied history at Oxford and sociology in Berlin, before passing the French bar exam (1926–1941) and becoming a lawyer.

In 1925, she married Raymond Sarraute, a fellow lawyer, with whom she would have three daughters. In 1932 she wrote her first book, Tropismes, a series of brief sketches and memories that set the tone for her entire oeuvre. The novel was first published in 1939, although the impact of World War II stunted its popularity. In 1941, Sarraute, who was Jewish, was released from her work as a lawyer as a result of Nazi law. During this time, she went into hiding and made arrangements to divorce her husband in an effort to protect him (although they would eventually stay together).

Sarraute died at the age of 99 in Paris, France. Her daughter, the journalist Claude Sarraute, was married to French Academician Jean-François Revel.

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