From the publisher:
This is Edmond Rostand’s immortal play in which chivalry and wit, bravery and love are forever captured in the timeless spirit of romance. Set in Louis XIII’s reign, it is the moving and exciting drama of one of the finest swordsmen in France, gallant soldier, brilliant wit, tragic poet-lover with the face of a clown. Rostand’s extraordinary lyric powers gave birth to a universal hero–Cyrano De Bergerac–and ensured his own reputation as author of one of the best-loved plays in the literature of the stage.
About the Play
Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play is a fictionalization of his life that follows the broad outlines of it.
The entire play is written in verse, in rhyming couplets of 12 syllables per line, very close to the Alexandrine format, but the verses sometimes lack a caesura. It is also meticulously researched, down to the names of the members of the Académie française and the dames précieuses glimpsed before the performance in the first scene.
The play has been translated and performed many times, and is responsible for introducing the word “panache” into the English language. Cyrano (the character) is in fact famed for his panache, and the play ends with him saying “My panache.” just before his death. The two most famous English translations are those by Brian Hooker and Anthony Burgess.
Hercule Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, a cadet (nobleman serving as a soldier) in the French Army, is a brash, strong-willed man of many talents. In addition to being a remarkable duelist, he is a gifted, joyful poet and is also shown to be a musician. However, he has an extremely large nose, which is the reason for his own self-doubt. This doubt prevents him from expressing his love for his distant cousin, the beautiful and intellectual heiress Roxane, as he believes that his ugliness denies him the “dream of being loved by even an ugly woman.”
Cyrano, talking about his own nose:
Descriptive: It’s a rock! A peak! A cape!
– A cape? Forsooth! It’s a peninsula!
Cyrano, prompting Christian, explaining to Roxane what a kiss means to him:
A kiss, when all is said, what is it?
An oath that’s ratified, a sealed promise,
A heart’s avowal claiming confirmation,
A rose-dot on the ‘i’ of ‘adoration’;
A secret that to mouth, not ear, is whispered …