Edmond Rostand

Edmond Rostand

Overview
Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand (1 April 1868 – 2 December 1918) was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism
Neo-romanticism
The term neo-romanticism is used to cover a variety of movements in music, painting and architecture. It has been used with reference to very late 19th century and early 20th century composers such as Gustav Mahler particularly by Carl Dahlhaus who uses it as synonymous with late Romanticism...

, and is best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac (play)
Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play bears very scant resemblance to his life....

. Rostand's romantic plays provided an alternative to the naturalistic
Naturalism (literature)
Naturalism was a literary movement taking place from the 1880s to 1940s that used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had inescapable force in shaping human character...

 theatre popular during the late nineteenth century. Another of Rostand's works, Les Romanesques, was adapted to the musical comedy, The Fantasticks
The Fantasticks
The Fantasticks is a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. It was produced by Lore Noto. It tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play "The Romancers" by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring fathers who trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into...

.

Rostand was born in Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

, France, into a wealthy and cultured Provençal
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

 family.
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Unanswered Questions
Quotations

Call no one. Leave me not;When you come back, I should be gone for aye.

Cyrano, Act 5, Sc. 6

Live, for I love you!

Roxane, Act 5, Sc. 6

No, In fairy talesWhen to the ill-starred Prince the lady says'I love you!' all his ugliness fades fast — But I remain the same, up to the last!

Cyrano, Act 5, Sc. 6

You blessed my life!Never on me had rested woman's love.My mother even could not find me fair:I had no sister; and, when grown a man,I feared the mistress who would mock at me.But I have had your friendship — grace to youA woman's charm has passed across my path.

Cyrano, Act 5, Sc. 6

I loved but once, yet twice I lose my love!

Roxane, Act 5, Sc. 6

What say you? It is useless? Ay, I knowBut who fights ever hoping for success?I fought for lost cause, and for fruitless quest!You there, who are you! — You are thousands! Ah!I know you now, old enemies of mine!Falsehood!Have at you! Ha! and Compromise!Prejudice, Treachery! ... Surrender, I?Parley? No, never! You too, Folly, — you?I know that you will lay me low at last;Let be! Yet I fall fighting, fighting still!

Cyrano, Act 5, Sc. 6
Encyclopedia
Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand (1 April 1868 – 2 December 1918) was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism
Neo-romanticism
The term neo-romanticism is used to cover a variety of movements in music, painting and architecture. It has been used with reference to very late 19th century and early 20th century composers such as Gustav Mahler particularly by Carl Dahlhaus who uses it as synonymous with late Romanticism...

, and is best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac (play)
Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play bears very scant resemblance to his life....

. Rostand's romantic plays provided an alternative to the naturalistic
Naturalism (literature)
Naturalism was a literary movement taking place from the 1880s to 1940s that used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had inescapable force in shaping human character...

 theatre popular during the late nineteenth century. Another of Rostand's works, Les Romanesques, was adapted to the musical comedy, The Fantasticks
The Fantasticks
The Fantasticks is a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. It was produced by Lore Noto. It tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play "The Romancers" by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring fathers who trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into...

.

Early life


Rostand was born in Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

, France, into a wealthy and cultured Provençal
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

 family. His father was an economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 and a poet, a member of the Marseille Academy and the Institut de France
Institut de France
The Institut de France is a French learned society, grouping five académies, the most famous of which is the Académie française.The institute, located in Paris, manages approximately 1,000 foundations, as well as museums and chateaux open for visit. It also awards prizes and subsidies, which...

. Rostand studied literature, history, and philosophy at the Collège Stanislas
Collège Stanislas de Paris
Le Collège Stanislas de Paris is a private Catholic school in Paris, situated on "Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs" in the Montparnasse arrondissement. It has approximately 3,000 students, and is the largest private school in France....

 in Paris, France.

Career


His first play, a burlesque, Les romanesques was produced on 21 May 1894 at the Théâtre Français. Another early play, La Princesse Lointaine, was based on the story of the troubadour Rudel
Jaufré Rudel
Jaufre Rudel was the Prince of Blaye and a troubadour of the early–mid 12th century, who probably died during the Second Crusade, in or after 1147...

 and the Lady of Tripoli This play opened on 5 April 1895 at the Théâtre de la Renaissance
Théâtre de la Renaissance
The name Théâtre de la Renaissance has been used successively for three distinct Parisian theatre companies. The first two companies, which were short-lived enterprises in the 19th century, used the Salle Ventadour, now an office building on the Rue Méhul in the 2nd arrondissement.The current...

. The part of Melissande was created by Sarah Bernhardt
Sarah Bernhardt
Sarah Bernhardt was a French stage and early film actress, and has been referred to as "the most famous actress the world has ever known". Bernhardt made her fame on the stages of France in the 1870s, and was soon in demand in Europe and the Americas...

, who also was the original Photine of La Samaritaine (Theatre de la Renaissance, 14 April 1897), a Biblical drama in three scenes taken from the gospel story of the woman of Samaria.

The production of his heroic comedy of Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac (play)
Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play bears very scant resemblance to his life....

(28 December 1897, Theatre de la Porte Saint-Martin), with Benoît-Constant Coquelin
Benoît-Constant Coquelin
Benoît-Constant Coquelin , known as Coquelin aîné, was a French actor, "one of the greatest theatrical figures of the age."-Biography:Coquelin was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais...

 in the title-role, was a triumph. No such enthusiasm for a drama in verse had been known since the days of Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

's Hernani. The play was quickly translated into English, German, Russian and other European languages. For his hero he had drawn on French 17th-century history.

In L'Aiglon
L'Aiglon
L'Aiglon is a play in six acts by Edmond Rostand based on the life of Napoleon's son, Napoleon II of France, Duke of Reichstadt. The title comes from a nickname for Napoleon II, the French word for "eaglet" . The title role was created by Sarah Bernhardt in the play's premiere on 15 March 1900 at...

he chose a subject from Napoleonic history, suggested probably by Henri Welschinger's Roi de Rome, 1811-32 (1897), which contained much new information about the unhappy life of the Duke of Reichstadt, son of Napoleon I, and Marie Louise, under the surveillance of Metternich at the Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial 1,441-room Rococo summer residence in Vienna, Austria. One of the most important cultural monuments in the country, since the 1960s it has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna...

. L'Aiglon in six acts and in verse, was produced (15 March 1900) by Sarah Bernhardt at her own theatre, she herself undertaking the part of the Duke of Reichstadt.

In 1901, Rostand became the youngest writer to be elected to the Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

. Chantecler
Chantecler (play)
Chantecler is a verse play in four acts, written by Edmond Rostand. The play is notable in that all the characters are farmyard animals including the main protagonist, a chanticleer, or rooster. The play centers on the theme of idealism and spiritual sincerity, as contrasted with cynicism and...

, produced in February 1910, was awaited with an interest, enhanced by considerable delay in the production, hardly equaled by the enthusiasm of its reception. Lucien Guitry
Lucien Guitry
Lucien Germain Guitry was a French actor.In 1885, while living in Saint Petersburg, he appeared at the French Theatre. His son, the future actor, writer and director Sacha Guitry, was born in Saint Petersburg and named in honour of Tsar Alexander III...

 was in the title role and Mme. Simone played the part of the pheasant, the play being a fantasy of bird and animal life, and the characters denizens of the farmyard and the woods.

Personal life


Rostand was married to poet Rosemonde Etienette Gerard
Rosemonde Gérard
Louise-Rose-Étiennette Gérard, known as Rosemonde Gérard was a French poet and playwright. She was the wife of Edmond Rostand , and was a granddaughter of Étienne Maurice Gérard, who was a Marshal and a Prime Minister of France.Gérard is perhaps best known today as the author of the...

 who, in 1890, published Les Pipeaux: a volume of verse crowned by the Academy. The couple had two sons, Jean F.
Jean Rostand
Jean Rostand was a French biologist and philosopher.Active as an experimental biologist, Rostand became famous for his work as a science writer, as well as a philosopher and an activist...

 and Maurice
Maurice Rostand
Maurice Rostand was a French author, the son of the noted poet and dramatist Edmond Rostand and the poet Rosemonde Gérard, and brother of the biologist Jean Rostand.Rostand was a writer of poems, novels, and plays...

.

In the 1900s, Rostand came to live in the Villa Arnaga in Cambo-les-Bains
Cambo-les-Bains
Cambo-les-Bains is a town in the traditional Basque province of Labourd, now in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France.-People:...

 in the French Basque Country
Northern Basque Country
The French Basque Country or Northern Basque Country situated within the western part of the French department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques constitutes the north-eastern part of the Basque Country....

 looking for a cure for his pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

. The house is now a heritage site and a museum of Rostand's life and Basque
Basque people
The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

 architecture and crafts. Rostand died in 1918, a victim of the flu pandemic, and is buried in the Cimetière de Marseille.

Works

  • Le Gant Rouge, 1888
  • Les Musardises, 1890
  • Les Deux Pierrots, Ou Le Souper Blanc (The Two Pierrots or The White Supper), 1891
  • Les Romanesques (The Fantasticks), 1894
  • La Princesse Lointaine (The Princess Far-Away), 1895
  • La Samaritaine (The Woman of Samaria), 1897
  • Cyrano de Bergerac, 1897
  • L'Aiglon: A Play in Six Acts. 1900
  • Chantecler: A Play in Four Acts, 1910
  • La Derniere Nuit de Don Juan (The Last Night of Don Juan, in Poetic Drama), 1921
  • Le Cantique de L'Aile, 1922
  • Le Vol de la Marseillaise, 1922

External links