Nathalie Sarraute Additional Biography


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The few facts that Nathalie Sarraute (sah-ROHT) relinquished about her life were as sparse and unembellished as her prose. She was born on July 18, 1900, in Ivanovo-Voznessensk, Russia. Her parents, Ilya Tcherniak and Paulina Chatounowski, had met while studying in Geneva to avoid the harassment that prevented Jewish students from attending Russian universities under Nicholas II. After her father obtained a doctorate in chemistry, they returned to Russia, where he opened a textile factory.

When she was two years old, her parents divorced. Sarraute lived with her mother in Paris for most of her early years and spent summers with her father in Russia. She spoke French from early childhood. Her mother remarried several years later and moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she collaborated on a literary review and published fiction under the masculine pseudonym of Vichrowski. From a young age, Sarraute had a desire to write that was enhanced by her acquaintance with writers and scholars. At age seven she timidly presented her first novel to a writer friend of her mother. His review, that she should learn to spell before she wrote novels, kept her from writing for almost thirty years.

Sarraute moved with her father, who had also remarried, back to Paris in 1910. As a result of her frequent travel between France, Switzerland, and Russia, Sarraute became fluent in Russian and French at an early age. She was a bright student who consistently earned high marks and was encouraged to pursue her own career by her father. She was reared in a community of Russian émigré intellectuals who fostered her love of music, languages, and literature.


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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Sartre wrote in his preface to Nathalie Sarraute’s novel Portrait of a Man Unknown that “by tenaciously depicting the reassuring, dreary world of the inauthentic, she has achieved a technique which makes it possible to attain, over and beyond the psychological, human reality in its very existence.” Sarraute consistently revealed the minute fluctuations of human behavior and perception in her works. A few words, spoken casually, form the nucleus of an entire internal universe. Evoking spontaneous memories and unconscious drives, the subtle psychology in her novels went beneath the surface of individual idiosyncracies to uncover universal human impulses.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111206431-Sarraute.jpg Nathalie Sarraute Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Nathalie Sarraute (sah-roht), has often been called the mother of the French New Novel. She was born Nathalie Ilyanova Tcherniak in Russia on July 18, 1900, the daughter of Ilya Tcherniak, a chemist and owner of a dye factory, and Pauline Chatounowski. At the age of two, Sarraute’s parents were divorced, and she spent much of her childhood moving back and forth among Russia, France, and Switzerland. Sarraute’s mother eventually returned to Russia with her daughter, remarried, and published a number of novels and short stories under the male pseudonym Vichrowski. At the age of eight, Sarraute returned to Paris to live with her father in the hub of the Russian émigré community.

Sarraute studied English at the...

(The entire section is 655 words.)