Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Cyrano de Bergerac" By Edmond Rostand

Ah, the memories of days long past. Days when I actually sat at a desk, pining for a lunch break, or better: summer. I read Cyrano when I was in eighth grade, roughly seven years ago, but the book is still fresh in my mind. Convenient, as I don't have a hard copy, just my memories of it, which were quite vivid that particular year.

First of all, it is written in the form of a play, but don't let that deter you. This is classic literature, practically Shakespearian, just waiting for you to devour. Playwrights like Rostand and Shakespeare were the James Pattersons of their day, or better yet, the Woody Allens. They wrote for the masses, and their works were enacted on the stage, immersing the audience in their worlds.

At the time, I didn't realize Cyrano was actually a real person. Maybe my teacher covered that during my gratuitous sick days, but I was none the wiser. The similarities between the real Cyrano and his fictional counterpart include that they were both duelists, had a way with words, and were military men. The real Cyrano had a cousin who married Baron Christian of Neuvillette, his colleague, though the story between the two in the play is entirely fiction.

The Plot:
Cyrano, a French nobleman fighter, has a gilt tongue, a rather bulbous nose, and fears he is ugly and will never win the heart of his cousin Roxanne. His handsome comrade Christian isn't as gifted with words. Christian is also pining for the lovely Roxanne, and so Cyrano and he conspire. Christian will use Cyrano's words to woo her. This evolves into a series of rather humorous escapades, though seasoned with gravity of Cyrano's plight. There are darker plots afoot, but that is the main gist of the storyline.

A main theme in this book is the want for "a good death". To describe it to you, I'll pose you a similar query to one in the book: Would you rather die with sword in hand or drunk in a pool of your own vomit? That is the basic principle, and it drives one of the characters, though I can't tell you who.

I had never thought of such things when I was a 14 year old girl, but it remains a question I always ask myself at funerals. It is a macabre thing to think of, yet in some situations it brings comfort. I think most people in the world wishes for a painless death, and when I remember those people in my past who have been granted that boon, I often think of it as "a good death".

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of those rare books which make you think about topics like "a good death" despite it never occurring to you that there is such a thing. It is humor tempered with tragedy, honor entwined disgrace, and physical beauty contrasting with inner beauty. We often think we judge people on what is inside them, but sometimes you have to wonder about what our current "culture" says about us, as well as what Cyrano says about what people were like in Rostand's time.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars for profound meaning!

Content: I read this at a private Catholic school. There is very little to object to, save few scenes of    violence. Best read when 13+ years of age for comprehension.

Page Count: 240 pages

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