Cyrano de Bergerac

Rereading and notetaking are essential tasks for analysis, so audiobooks aren’t the best material for reviews — barreling down the interstate at 70 isn’t the best time to search for the rewind button, and taking notes during the commute to or from the office is certainly problematic. But since I listen to audiobooks often, and enjoy the exercise of organizing my impressions into something resembling critical thought, I’ll give this my best shot. 

For “Cyrano de Bergerac,” I chose a traditional one-man reading of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play, a decision which ultimately proved unwise. The format works well for stage directions, but not at all for dialogue — having the reader hurriedly announce the character name , then read the character’s line, made the overall performance seem choppy, stilted, a flaw which obscured much of the wonderful language Cyrano uses when wooing Roxanne on behalf of Christian.

Enough of the technical critique. Cyrano is a fascinating figure, a poetic soul infused with a good deal of piss and vinegar. He is a man who insists on excellence, in himself and others, and responds to mediocrity with his swift sword and withering wit, sometimes simultaneously. His ego is only as large as his ambition, his desire for fame a plea for his countrymen to recognize the greatness of his cause.

Not even the most superficial of reviews can fail to mention Cyrano’s infamous nose. It struck me how Cyrano was actually more bothered by his prodigious proboscis than any other character in the play. Perhaps this insecurity is what motivates him to his martial and intellectual mastery.

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