Yuri Felsen was born Nikolai Bernhardovich Freudenstein, in 1894 in St Petersburg. His parents had recently moved there from Riga. His father was a doctor. He studied law at Petrograd
Imperial University but was not interested in a career in law. With the outbreak of war, he entered the Mikhailovsky Artillery School. Allegedly he lent his greatcoat to Alexander Kerensky when Kerensky was fleeing after the October Revolution. Felsen was opposed to the Bolsheviks and joined the Whites before emigrating to Riga, were he published a few articles in the press. In 1921 he moved to Berlin and then, in 1924, to Paris.
He lived with his sister’s family and joined a bank. Apparently he lost a lot of money on the stock market. He became very much involved in the literary activity of Russian Paris and became close to other Russian émigré writers. He became very much involved in promoting Russian literature and also published stories and articles in the émigré press. He was known as the Russian Proust and Proust was one of the many French writers he associated with. He published three novels.
After the Nazi occupation of Paris, he was arrested but was freed thanks to friends and then hidden. He was arrested again, in Lyon and was again freed. The Resistance tried to smuggle him across the border to Switzerland but he was caught. He was sent to the Drancy internment camp and in Paris and thence to Auschwitz, where he was killed. His manuscripts (both published and unpublished), correspondence and personal effects were lost or destroyed. Only in recent years has he been rediscovered.
The Truest Testament: On the Life and Art of Yuri Felsen
Extras: A Short Story by Yuri Felsen
Yuri Felzen (in Russian)
Юрий Фельзен (Фрейденштейн Николай Бернгардович) (in Russian)
1930 Обман (Deceit) (novel)
1932 Счастье (novel)
1936 Письма о Лермонтове (novel)
2012 Собрание сочинений