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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Born Teller of Stories' Troyat Dies

APThe late Henri Troyat shown addressing the Academie Francaise in 1960.
PARIS -- Russian-born writer Henri Troyat, one of the great figures of modern French literature and one of France's most popular biographers, has died at the age of 95, the Academie Francaise said Monday.

Troyat, author of more than 100 works, mainly novels and biographies, was the dean of the august Academie Francaise and won France's top literary award, the Prix Goncourt, almost 70 years ago in 1938.

He was born in Moscow on Nov. 1, 1911, as Lev Tarasov, the son of a prosperous businessman, but grew up in France after his family fled Russia during the Revolution.

His biographies, including of Tolstoy, Catherine the Great and Chekhov, enjoyed enormous success and were widely translated.

His novels included the trilogy "As Long as the Earth Lasts" and "L'Araigne," for which he won the Goncourt at the age of 27.

Known for his prodigious output, he famously wore out the carpets in front of the desk where in his younger years he wrote standing up. He published his most recent work, a biography of poet and novelist Boris Pasternak, last year.

"A day without writing gave him a feeling of sin," his friend and fellow member of the Academie Maurice Druon wrote in Le Figaro newspaper in a tribute to mark his death.

Sometimes dismissed as a populist, he was far removed from the more avant-garde schools of French literature and wrote in "a clear, simple language, one that lasts," Druon wrote.

"He was a born teller of stories, both true and invented," Druon wrote. "That was what he lived and breathed for."

Troyat never visited Russia, but often wrote about the country of his birth, saying he had constructed "an interior Russia" in his own mind and that to go back would risk "impoverishing my dream."

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin paid homage to Troyat's attachment both to the French language and to his native Russia.

His works "fascinated thousands of readers for 70 years, and will continue to fascinate people," Villepin wrote.

(Reuters, AP)