Cyrano de Bergerac (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Cyrano De Bergerac (Illustrated)

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Overview

Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

One of the most beloved heroes of the stage, Cyrano de Bergerac is a magnificent wit who, despite his many gifts, feels that no woman can ever love him because of his enormous nose. He adores the beautiful Roxanne but, lacking courage, decides instead to help the tongue-tied but winsome Christian woo the fair lady by providing him with flowery sentiments and soulful poetry. Roxanne is smitten—but is it Christian she loves or Cyrano?

A triumph from the moment of its 1897 premiere, Cyrano de Bergerac has become one of the most frequently produced plays in the world. Its perennial popularity is a tribute to the universal appeal of its themes and characters.

Peter Connor is Associate Professor of French and comparative literature at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of Georges Bataille and the Mysticism of Sin (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080754
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 4.13 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Connor is Associate Professor of French and comparative literature at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of Georges Bataille and the Mysticism of Sin (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).

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Read an Excerpt

From Peter Connor's Introduction to Cyrano de Bergerac

There is some truth to the argument that Cyrano de Bergerac succeeded because it permitted a demoralized population to believe once again in the ideals of valor, courage, and sacrifice that recent experience had so severely challenged. At the same time, there is something inherently unsatisfying about such a line of reasoning. It seems a peculiarly negative way of assessing the worth and impact of a work of art, interesting enough from an extratextual perspective, but neglectful of the intrinsic merits of the play, which might also help explain the thralldom of spectators at the turn of the century and beyond. For a great deal of the aesthetic appeal of this play stems from within: from the ingenuity of its characterization (I refer to Cyrano, obviously, but also to Ragueneau, Cyrano's alter ego, in a sense), from the drama as well as the sheer unexpectedness of its plot (no one was expecting a play about a man with a big nose), from its thrilling dynamism (Rostand is superb at handling large-scale crowd scenes with lots of action; see the opening act). Moreover, in broad terms, Cyrano succeeds because it stages so well the tension between the earthy and the ethereal, between the base and the sublime, and because theatergoers recognize in it an intelligent balance of irony, realism, and fantasy. To go a step further, Cyrano stages the triumph of the ethereal over the earthly, of the sublime over the base. To put this in the language of the play, Cyrano is a staging of panache, without doubt the single most important word in the play and one we will examine here in some detail.

But first things first. As the title of the play suggests, Cyrano de Bergerac is very much about Cyrano, and Cyrano is a likable character. There is hardly a juicier role in the dramatic repertory: Cyrano is almost always on stage, and it is almost always Cyrano who does the talking (to such an extent that even when Christian is speaking, it is often in a sense still Cyrano). Rostand fully exploits the dramatic potential of a character whose physical and verbal assuredness "dominates the situation," to use a phrase Rostand applied to panache. If Cyrano's centrality to the play corresponds to Rostand's dramatic vision, it stems partly also from the circumstances of composition of the play. The part of Cyrano was written for one of the leading actors of the time, Constant Coquelin, whom Rostand had met through Sarah Bernhardt. Rostand got into the habit of showing Coquelin completed sections of the play as he went along. Some of the speeches scripted for other characters so pleased the star of the Paris stage that he claimed them for himself. The famous scene (act two, scene vii) in which Cyrano presents the cadets of Gascony, for example, was originally scripted for Carbon de Castel-Jaloux. (During rehearsals, when the actor playing Le Bret complained that he had very few lines, Coquelin responded: "But you have a fine role. I talk to you all the time.")

Theater that stages a hero allows for a more immediate and arguably more gratifying forms of identification than the theater of ideas. Like the cadets in the Carbon de Castel-Jaloux's company, the spectators of this play watch and listen to see what Cyrano will do and say next. Now everything Cyrano does and says is governed by what we could call an ethics of panache. Panache is Rostand's word, or at least a word he made his own; before him, no one had used it in quite the same sense. In its simplest and literal sense, panache refers to the feathered plume of a helmet or other type of military headgear. This is the meaning of the word as it appears in act four, scene iv, where Cyrano speaks of Henri IV, who urged his soldiers during the battle of Ivry to "rally around my white plume; you will always find it on the path of honor and glory" (cited in the Bair translation of Cyrano; see "For Further Reading"). But when Cyrano uses the word again at the end of the play-poignantly, it is his and the play's last word-it has acquired a metaphorical dimension, and suggests at once a commitment to valor, a certain elegance, self-esteem verging on pride, and also a certain . . . je ne sais quoi. Such vagueness is disappointing but also inevitable: Rostand himself warned against limiting the meaning of the word to a dictionary definition, as though to do so would be to imprison a sentiment the essence of which is to insist on absolute freedom from convention.

In his speech to the Académie française in 1903, Rostand described panache, rather mystically, as "nothing more than a grace." "It is not greatness," he said, "but something added on to greatness, and which moves above it." Panache is not just physical courage in the face of danger; it includes a verbal assertiveness in the face of possible death. "To joke in the face of danger is the supreme form of politeness," Rostand said. Hence panache is "the wit of bravura"—not bravura alone (which might be perfectly stupid), but the expression in language of that bravura and indeed language as an expression of bravura: "It is courage that so dominates a particular situation, that it finds just what to say."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2009

    Cyrano de Bergerac: A Heroic Comedy in Five Acts

    I found this book to be particuarly wonderful. It was wholesome, funny, and had a interesting, captivating plot. It had a certain quality that, once you began to read, anything else that was the slightest distraction became a huge hiderance. This book made me think, which is something that I, personally, look for in a book. Everything from the language to the historical French referances to the detailed format and all over details in the story made me invision the time and see the wonderful French culture that the characters expierenced. I would highly reccomend this book to anyone who enjoys the classics, wants to get into a good book, and likes a little challenge in the language. I read this for Honors English 9 and it was fairly easy, aside from maybe the 4 or 5 times i had to pop out the Merriem-Webster ;) I hope someone will take my advice and read this amazing piece of historical literature. Happy reading!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2008

    Awesome book!

    I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't stop reading, could never find the right place to stop. Cyrano de Bergerac had an unusual but unique and 'page-turning' balance of tragedy, comedy, and romance. I admit, the story caught me off guard a few times and I was having a hard time following, but over-all I really enjoyed it and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested, and even those of you who aren't!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    Cyrano de Bergerac

    Cyrano de Bergerac, in my opinion is one of the greatest romances of all time. It speaks of sacrifice and adoration in beautifully melodic language, all three of which (sacrifice, adoration, complex language) seem to be things dead in our modern society. Having been raised on classical literature, I found the book to be somewhat easy to comprehend and would highly recommend it to anyone with a true romantic's soul. Cyrano demonstrates the epitome of heroism in this story, being both well versed and an singular swordsman! The one thing he lacks is beauty and his self-consciousness is what prevents him from rising to the top of his sex. Despite his physical ugliness, Cyrano, in loving Roxane more than wanting to satiate his own desires, demonstrates a love that every woman longs for. I recommend this book for romantics, swashbucklers, poets, adventurers, and lovers and everyone else who doubts that there is such a thing as 'true love'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    THIS IS IN FRENCH

    Just so naive "free finders" know

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Poorly copied

    The guy that copied this did a bad job: random symbols and uppercase letters were common on every page, with the phrase "Digitized by Google" interrupting the text in random places every few pages. It was extremely distracting and not worth trying to ignore while reading. Good thing it was free.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2011

    Hard to read

    I'm not sure if I don't know french well enough, or if the copying was just plain bad. I can hardly understand what was going on, and the "digitized by google" kept popping up and confusing me. Good thing this was free.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2011

    Good Choice for High School Sophomores.

    I read this book in my tenth grade english class, and I have to say that it was a great way to display all of the types of love, from the pettiest to the most real. The only disappointment I have with this book is that the end was really pointless to me. It didn't make sense that things should have happened the way they did. (I dont want to give away the end for anyone that has yet to read it) I am not saying that everything should be a perfect fairy tale, just some other ending would have sufficed more so than the actual finale. Overall, this book is suitable for the mentioned age group, and it is a good way to teach a lesson in what love really is at a high school age.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Fail

    Not good quality not good spacing and text wad blurred.

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  • Posted October 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Prodigiously Diverting

    Cyrano De Bergerac combines wit, intelligence, beautiful poetry, sweet romance, swashbuckling adventure, and delicious tragedy, played out by delightfully colourful characters.

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  • Posted March 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    "I carry my adornments on my soul"

    The first time I read this was years and years ago, and while I enjoyed it, I was really too young to absorb much more than the basic storyline. My second encounter with Cyrano, however, came over IHOP pancakes as a good friend of mine read the entire play aloud, complete with voices and director's asides about stage setting and the actors. An unforgettable experience, certainly, but as amazing as it was, it was still truly Cyrano's story that gripped me. And it was Brian Hooker's translation---gorgeous, lush, evocative---that brought the play to stirring, poignant life. Cyrano de Bergerac is a beautiful piece, and I have no doubt threads of its story and its words will stay with me for a long time to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2009

    Awesome Play

    This play is entertaining and comical

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2008

    Good play overall

    I didn't really like this play as much as I thought I would. In the begining it was a little confusing due to the fact that it had too many characters. I couldn't keep track with all them. After I went and read it in a quite place and concentrated I started understanding. It was smart by the author to add some comedy in the play. It was really funny how they were calling someone fat, but didn't actually say fat. They called him 'monster belly', 'king of obese'. Overall it was a good book but because it was too romantic, I recommend seeing the play rather than reading it. There is a movie about this play called 'Roxanne' with Steve Martin that was very good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2007

    Amazing!!!

    Cyrano de Bergerac is such a wonderful piece of literature. Yes, it is melodramatic. Yes, it does contain some rather stereotypical characters, and yes, there are some rather uninspired plot choices. But it is wonderfully written, and Rostand is incredibly skilled when it comes to the poetry I was swept away and I was immediately intrigued. It is a really good choice for those who cannot stomach the overbearing fiction that is so often associated with 'classic' works, and it is an excellent choice to read for fun. Who wouldn't enjoy his soliloquy to the ways a person could insult his large nose?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2006

    ' I never loved but one man in my life, and I have lost him- twice.'

    Cyrano De Bergerac is a French play written by Edmond Rostand. It is a classic, romantic, tragedy, set in 17th century France during a time of war with Spain. It tells a story of unrequited love between a man named Cyrano, who has a genius for poetry, and an extremely large nose, and the lovely and beautiful, Roxane(sic) . Cyrano loves his cousin, the beautiful Roxane, but Roxane thinks she is in love with another, the young and handsome cadet, Christian. In reality, Roxane is in love with the eloquence of words. Christian, who can't express his feelings for Roxane, asks Cyrano to help him win her. Roxane is wooed by the words she reads in Christian `s letters, and falls romantically in love with Christian, but the words she has grown to love and adore are the words, wit, and poetry, of Cyrano. Cryano wins the lovely Roxane for Christian, and on the eve of war the two are wed, but before the marriage can be consummated, Christian is ordered to the front. Roxane makes Cyrano promise that he will keep Christian safe. Roxane also extracts a promise from Cyrano to make sure that Christian will write to her everyday. Cyrano, writes the promised letters daily. Facing death, he crosses enemy lines day after day and risks his life so that Roxane receives the promised letters from Christian. Christian does not know the letters are being sent. After some weeks of war, Roxane comes to the battlefield to see her Christian. The soldiers believe that they will die that very night in a desperate battle, so Cyrano has written a final letter for Christian to send to his Roxane. Christian reads the letter and sees the tear stains and now realizes that Cyrano himself, has been in love with Roxane all along. Christian goes to Roxane to find out for sure whether or not she loves him for himself. She tells him that even if he were ugly she would still love him. Christian takes this knowledge back to Cyrano, and upon hearing this, Cyrano is given hope. Christian orders Cyrano to tell Roxane that he has been the one writing to her. In the end Christian dies at the start of the battle and Cyrano does not tell his secret but allows Roxane to believe that the final, sweet, farewell, was written from the loving Christian. Fifteen years go by and Roxane still sits in a convent mourning her lost love. Finally, having been foully run over by his enemies, Cyrano comes to say good by as he knows he is dying. Roxane discovers that it has been her old friend, Cyrano, whom she has really loved all these years. As Cyrano is dying, Roxane laments, 'I have loved but one man in my life , and I have lost him twice.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2005

    A wonderfull play, deserving the title of classic

    I had nothing to read one day so I picked this up. I was hooked from that moment on. I love the characters, the poetry, the tale itself. I could barely put our battered copy down 'til the very end. Brian hooker did an amazing job in translating Dumas' wonderful work.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2004

    ly&danny garcia' wilson rocks1967

    The play is absolutely steller. The heart and soul of a man is to be seen,listened to,and under the flesh the illumination of his worth is magical,quixotic, loyol and forthright and honerable. It blows me away when I read young critics say it's boring.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2004

    A fantastic play!

    Without a doubt this play is the most romantic I have read. The play is classic and can transcend the time barrier, allowing readers of all ages to relate to it. The dominant theme in this play is courtly love and can be seen vividly in every scene, especially, the balcony scene.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2003

    ok- not my type of book

    i had to read this book in order to get into an honors english class. reading plays isn't my type of book. i thought the book was long and boring, and took forever. overall the storyline was okay, but i wouldn't recommend it, and never read it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2003

    Classic Story With Hidden Meanings

    This novel has a basic story line that has been followed in many other books. Guy likes girl, guy can't get girl, guy enlists help to get girl, and guy gets girl evenutally in the end. Beyond that though, the story is very compelling. The main lesson I recieved from it was to have self confidence. Cyrano had no confidence in his looks because of his nose. He always put himself down because of it and expected others to do the same. No one truly picked on him about his nose, except for when he made it a point. But in the end he learned that his nose did not matter and that the beautiful Roxane loved him just the same for his soul. In today's society everyone could use this lesson. That you need to have confidence in yourself for who you are, because that is what makes you, not your nose.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2003

    Cyrano de Bergerac= An Epitome of Mediocrity

    Cyrano de Bergerac was, in my opinion, a mediocre book at best. The plot was tired and predictable, the characters boring. The only interesting characters are quickly dismissed, and the reasons for doing so border on foolishness. The characters, who were supposed to be the embodiments of true love and devotion turned out to be something quite different, the embodiments of shallowness and obsession. The most upsetting problem with the characters is that they are not developed. Rostand presents the reader with a general idea of who a character is, then quickly moves on. Actions are few and far between, and no sense of action is really conveyed. Perhaps taking Cyrano from the stage to print caused this, but that doesn't change the fact that it is dull. Rostand fails to convey any suspense at all, even when it is apparent that he is trying to. However, as a comedy, Cyrano de Bergerac excels. The humor is diverse; ranging from subtle to out-right insults. Cyrano often speaks insults that are incredibly funny, even by today's standards. That brings the book from a failure to a prime example of mediocrity, although there is still not enough humor to merit reading this book. All in all, the book is simply trying too hard to be something it is not.

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