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Cyrano de Bergerac (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Cyrano de Bergerac (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.9 45
by Edmond Rostand, Peter Connor (Introduction), Gertrude Hall (Translator)

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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:


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).

Product Details

Barnes & Noble
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Barnes & Noble Classics Series
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4.13(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.56(d)

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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Cyrano de Bergerac 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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'.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Gail Smith More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
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Clearwater92 More than 1 year ago
Not good quality not good spacing and text wad blurred.
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Elinor_D_Ferrars More than 1 year ago
Cyrano De Bergerac combines wit, intelligence, beautiful poetry, sweet romance, swashbuckling adventure, and delicious tragedy, played out by delightfully colourful characters.
slimikin More than 1 year ago
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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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.'