Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Romantic Fable

Cyrano De Bergerac (1988)
Cyrano De Bergerac 

"Oh! We have our pockets full, 
We poets, of love-letters, writ to Chloes, 
Daphnes — creations of our noddle-heads. 
Our lady-loves — phantasms of our brains 
— Dream-fancies blown into soap-bubbles! 
Take it, and change feigned love-words into true; I breathed my sighs and moans haphazard-wise; 
Call all these wandering love-birds home to nest. 
You'll see that I was in these lettered lines 
— Eloquent all the more, the less sincere! 
— Take it, and make an end! "
—Cyrano de Bergerac, giving his first Roxanne letter to Christian; 

Edmund Rostand's play opened in Paris on this day in 1897.  While most know the story of this famous play, I will refresh your memory. Hercule Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, a cadet in the French Army, is a brash, strong-willed man of many talents. In addition to being a remarkable duelist, he is a gifted poet and is also shown to be a musician. However, he has an extremely large nose, which is a target for his own self-doubt. This doubt prevents him from expressing his love for his distant cousin, the beautiful Roxane, as he believes that his ugliness forbids him to "dream of being loved by even an ugly woman."

I consider this among my favorite plays for both its romantic air of the grand opera and the poetic monologues of its eponymous hero. An unconventional love story, it is more a fable for the importance of virtue, loyalty and friendship. What more magnanimous man in literature is there than Cyrano de Bergerac? I am sure that I will return to this play again and again as it reminds me of the best that is possible for man and mankind. I read and reread the famous Brian Hooker translation which I would heartily recommend.

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