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Cyrano de bergerac. An Introduction. Edmond rostand. Born in France in 1868, as the country was transitioning from a monarchy to a republican government.

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cyrano de bergerac

Cyrano de bergerac

An Introduction

edmond rostand
Edmond rostand

Born in France in 1868, as the country was transitioning from a monarchy to a republican government.

Raised in Marseilles in an artistic family (father a poet, uncle a composer) but pressured by his father to study law in Paris, where he also began to write plays and poems.

Visited French troupes fighting in WWI, and died six weeks after the war ended, at the age of fifty.

the play
The play

First produced in 1896.

Although Rostand was a popular playwright, Cyrano de Bergerac was expected to fail.

He used a form popular with French playwrights one hundred years earlier; modern Parisians were expected to be bored.

Contrary to expectation, a full hour after the final curtain fell, the audience was still applauding thunderously.

literary traditions
Literary traditions

Realism and Naturalism


A literary movement from before Rostand’s time

A revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature

Validates strong emotion as an authentic source of aestheticexperience

Emphasis on idealism and heroism

Prevalence of romantic heroes, beautiful maidens, sword fights, and the power of poetry and art

  • Major literary movements during Rostand’s time
  • A response to industrialization and scientific advances
  • Emphasis on objective documentation of everyday life
  • Rejects idealization and glamor
  • Depicts working class life and societal problems
  • Belief in social and psychological objectivity; theater should explain scientific laws of human behavior
terms to know
Terms to know


Colorful swordfighter; heroic and idealistic, he rescues damsels in distress, fights dastardly villains, displays outstanding courage, resourcefulness, chivalry and a distinctive sense of honor and justice


Flair, individual sense of style, verve, or pizzazz


Centered on a noble character who undergoes a test involving a romantic relationship


French line of poetic meter; each line has 12 syllables, divided into two parts by a caesura (audible pause)

the real cyrano
The real cyrano

Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac (1619 – 1655)

Accomplished swordsman and member of the French Guards

Wrote plays, pamphlets and other works

Had an unusually large nose

Injured in the battle of Arras

Severely injured at age 35 when a plank fell on his head

Died at age 36 (either from the plank injury or syphillus)

the fictional cyrano

The fictional cyrano

The real Cyrano was born and died in Paris, while the fictional Cyrano is from Gascony, a region with Basque influence and the cultural stereotype of passion

historical setting france 1645
Historical setting:France, 1645

The Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648)

  • fought primarily in what is now Germany
  • involved most European countries
  • began as Protestant/Catholic feud, but became a conflict over the balance of power
  • Resulted in: extensive destruction of entire regionsdenuded by foraging armies; episodes of famine and disease; bankruptcy for most of the combatant powers