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Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
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Cyrano de Bergerac (1897)

by Edmond Rostand

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English (35)  French (9)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (47)
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Funny!! ( )
  katieloucks | Feb 26, 2016 |
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Translated into English by Brian Hooker

Bittersweet tale of unrequited love, nobility and honor. This play is set in France in 1640, during the reign of Louis XIII. Cyrano de Bergerac is known as the best swordsman in France, and is equally revered as a wordsmith and a quick wit. His pride comes out in displays of courage and bravado and is only diminished by his insecurity about his appearance. He hides his insecurity using his sword and when necessary, in witty verbal sparring where he beats others to the punch in mocking his large nose.

Cyrano denies his own happiness by refusing to admit his love for his distant cousin, Madeleine Robin, the lovely Roxane, and admits his reason for doing so to his good friend, Le Bret, who encourages him to speak to Roxane and give her the benefit of the doubt. When Roxane requests Cyrano's presence in a private meeting, his hopes are raised but then dashed when he learns that the purpose of the meeting is that Roxane wants Cyrano's help in romancing another. She admits to loving Baron Christian de Neuvillette, a soldier in Cyrano's regiment, a man she doesn't really know but is enamored by partly because of his physical good looks and partly by the fact that she has heard that he is besotted with her as well. Through his stunned disappointment, Cyrano agrees to befriend Christian and keep him from harm.

Their first meeting proves Christian to be rather unlikable as he uses every opportunity to make rude references to Cyrano's nose. Normally this would be the cause of a duel, but because of Cyrano's promise to Roxane, he must rein in his temper and befriend the lout instead. He makes Christian aware of Roxane's feelings and agrees to help Christian when he admits that he wouldn't be able to impress her with his inept writing skills if he sent her a letter. Christian wishes for Cyrano's wit; and Cyrano laments that he doesn't have Christian's good looks. He ponders the fact that if the two men could be combined, they would make 'one hero of romance'. He agrees to write the letters for Christian and feed him flowery and poetic phrases to use in conversation. This is how their deception begins.

After they are ordered to join up with their regiment in the Siege of Arras against the Cardinal Prince of Spain, Roxane arranges a hasty marriage to Christian. They are separated by necessity before there is a wedding night (which Cyrano admits to himself doesn't bother him much). As they are rushing off to war, Roxane begs Cyrano to watch over her new husband and to encourage Christian to write her every day. Cyrano promises that she will receive letters every day, although he cannot promise the rest. This promise is kept in a very heart-tugging way.

The rest of the play deals with that war and the aftermath, and how both Christian and Cyrano prove their integrity and mutual love for Roxane, even after she discovers their perfidy. Wonderful. ( )
  AddictedToMorphemes | Feb 1, 2016 |
One of my favorite plays of of all time which has turned into the basis for innumerable current "romantic comedies". A fable to prove that appearances can be decieving ( )
  WonderlandGrrl | Jan 29, 2016 |
What Rostand gives you with this play can, I think, be boiled down to two things: the language he uses and the titular character of Cyrano de Bergerac. No other characters are given much depth, and the plot of the play is a love triangle of the type you've seen a thousand times before. However, with the language of the play and the character of Cyrano, Rostand was not just adhering to old ideas. Even in translation (Hooker for my edition), the language holds up, not impressing in every instance but impressing often enough to establish that Rostand was a masterful writer. Unfortunately, the character of Cyrano left me wanting.

Cyrano struck me, repeatedly, as a calculated attempt by Rostand to make as popular a character as possible, meaning that, despite his historical roots, there's never an attempt to make him a flesh and blood character. Instead, Cyrano is over-the-top and theatrical. There's nothing wrong with having a theatrical character (this was written for the theater, after all), and there's nothing wrong with having it be your goal for the character to be popular, but if you notice that is occurring then the author has failed- coming off as trying too hard is never a good thing in this context. Cyrano is the finest swordsman in Paris, and he's likewise got not only a rapier wit but formidable poetic chops as well. He's also adored by all the good people of France, who cheer him on and consider him a hero in the first act of this play, even after he ruined a night out at the theater for all of them. De Guiche even complements Cyrano for distracting him long enough for the target of his affections to elope. The only people who don't like Cyrano are obvious villains and people never seen on-stage. The only flaw that our protagonist has is his lack of self-confidence concerning members of the fairer sex. It's a flaw tailor-made to make him as likable a character as possible, since who hasn't lacked confidence at least once, especially in matters of the heart? And with Cyrano, there's no question that this lack of self-confidence is unfounded. With Cyrano, Rostand can give us a character who's the bravest, smartest, funniest, most romantic of everyone, but who isn't absolutely without flaw and therefore not boring in his perfection. I get why this character is popular with many people. But he didn't resonate with me. I found him lacking in depth, and the only insight you can take from his character are platitudes. Be brave! Be smart! Stand up for what you believe in! Don't hide your feelings, be honest about them! There's no real insight here, because there's no real struggle- the only struggle that plays out on stage is Cyrano's romantic struggle (we never see his descent into poverty), and the solution to that struggle is an obvious one. Rostand gives us a character who is brave, but who never has to fight a fight he can't win. He's a romantic, but he never has to deal with an actual relationship. There's none of the mess of real life here, it's all clean melodrama, and that's fine as theatrical entertainment, but as a work of literature it can't rise above mediocrity for me.

I expect that I shall forever think of bottles of red wine as flasks of ruby, and bottles of white as flasks of topaz. That's more of an effect than many books have had on me. When I remember Cyrano, though, I expect I shall remember him as a failed attempt, at least in my experience. ( )
1 vote BayardUS | Jan 10, 2016 |
5
  kutheatre | Jun 7, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (202 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edmond Rostandprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bair, LowellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Besnier, PatrickForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bigliosi, CinziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brissaud, PierreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burgess, AnthonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cronk, NicholasIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cuomo, FrancoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dole, Helen B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fry, ChristopherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hooker, BrianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pavis, PatriceEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Untermeyer, LouisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was to the soul of CYRANO that I intended to dedicate this poem.
But since that soul has been reborn in you, COQUELIN, it is to you that I dedicate it.
- E. R.
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The hall of the Hotel de Bourgogne in 1640.
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This is the play by Edmond Rostand. It should not be combined with any adaptation (e.g., do not combine it with any film adaptation).
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451528921, Mass Market Paperback)

Rostand's masterpiece-and the ultimate triumph of the great French romantic tradition-is the magnificent hero-for-all-seasons, Cyrano de Bergerac.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:41 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A translation of the French drama set in seventeenth-century France telling of Cyrano de Bergerac's secret love for Roxane.

» see all 11 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0451528921, 014044968X

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