I've been around theater for quite a while, and I was lucky enough to be in this play twice, once as Cyrano. I've done Shakespeare, O'Neill, Chekhov...and I've never been in a play that comes close to this in terms of dramatic force.The fashion in French theater at the time it was written was simple domestic drama: husbands and wives and their various conflicts. This play exploded on the scene and there was extremely strong public reaction. (I think there may even have been riots.)For modern American audiences, I must confess, it's a pretty long haul. Even with some judicious cutting, it's tough to get the thing down close to three hours. But what a ride! Poetry, fight scenes, comedy, tears...it's just incredible.In all the plays I've done, I've never done one that comes so close to, literally, the meaning of life. Why are we here? What makes human beings act the way they do? Why do people try things that are clearly impossible? It's all in there.I knew someone in college who gave this paperback edition to everyone he knew as a gift, because it spoke so strongly to him.Looking back on it now, I'm amazed that I was able to memorize all the text, because I'm convinced that this is the longest role in Western theater...longer than Hamlet, I think.Hooker's translation has been called the greatest translation of poetry ever, and while I'm not a poetry student, I can agree. Squishing the 6-foot French lines into 5-foot English lines and still retaining the dramatic flow must have been a daunting task.Anyway, it's the greatest play I have ever seen, read or performed.
Cyrano de Bergerac by Rostand is my favourite play. The French original is a gem in almost every respect. It is wonderfully well written in Alexandrine (a difficult form of verse). Rostand's romantic masterpiece shines not only as a play, but as poetry.
This particular translation (unattributed) is pedestrian. It is accurate, but tin-eared. It is not the Brian Hooker translation. I state that because I wound up buying it in the belief that it was the Hooker translation and was consequently much disappointed.
For any literary work originally written in another language (this, Don Quixote, All Quiet on the Western Front), it is important to pay attention to who is responsible for the translation. Some translators are awful. Some are mediocre (such as whoever did this one). And some are wonderful (Brian Hooker).
For those who are not as enamored of Brian Hooker's work as I am, the Anthony Burgess translation is also quite good.
This is one of my favorite plays. There's humor, action, and romance. The banter and jokes always make me laugh. The character Cyrano has some fun wordplay -- being a dramatic, wordy, poet and fighter.
The story centers around Cyrano and his secret love for Roxanne. Despite his poetic nature, Cyrano has an abnormally large nose and believes he is unlovable. Cyrano helps another man, Christian, woo Roxanne. The story continues, but I wouldn't want to ruin it for a new reader.
I highly suggest this to anyone that enjoys a good romantic story. It's also a good read for anyone that likes 1800's-early 1900's literature.
I love this play! It has wit, comedy, adventure, danger and intellectual swordplay. But most importantly, it has a character(Cyrano) who values his life and principles above all else. Read it now! Also, if you enjoyed Cyrano as much as I did, check out "The Lost Sonnets of Cyrano de Bergerac" by James Carcioppolo. I read it hoping for more of Cyrano's spirit and love of life; I was not disapointed!
I currently own four different translations of Cyrano de Bergerac with another two more on the way. I am truly surprised to see how many new translations are being turned out of this wonderful classic. By far, three of the greatest are Brian Hooker's, Anthony Burgess' and Lowell Blair's. But I wanted to see what was new in the world of Cyrano. Penguin Books is known for its quality and I have seldom been let down.
In this case, I felt let down and disappointed. Carol Clark's translation just doesn't seem to have the feel for the character of Cyrano that so many of us have come to know and love. Though she is one of the few who ends the play with the word "panache'," her translation has too many spots that just don't feel the "white plume of freedom" Cyrano spoke of in rebellion to the the elite who wore their beauty, grace and flair on the outside and those who sucked up to them. Also, Carol Clark takes liberty in changing meaning in certain key places that I particularly did not care for at all. Perhaps her only true innovation is the proper gender tense he uses with regard to his sword which he regards as a "she" as in the original French. She gets too many things wrong to be commended for translating a Cyrano that will endure. I believe it is a novelty.
Let me emphasize that this is not a "bad" rendering "per se"; I feel strongly that it is just not a good rendering. It's merely AVERAGE, mediocre but as Cyrano believed in striving to be the best in everything, perhaps Carol Clark should have taken a page out of his book? I don't believe it will be any more understandable or accessable to today's reader than older translations and the reader will be losing out on so much with this rendering.Read more ›