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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Story of Cyrano de Bergerac (The)
by Stefano Benni
Age Range: 9-11
Cyrano is in love with the beautiful Roxane, but she is in love with the handsome Christian and is also being courted by the unpleasant Count De Guiche. Cyrano is an accomplished swordsman and poet but he knows that he will never win Roxane’s love because of his appearance – he has a rather large nose, so what can he do to capture her heart?
In 1897, the French poet Edmond Rostand published a play, Cyrano de Bergerac, about the life of Hercule-Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, a French dramatist and duelist who had lived over 200 years previously in the 17th century. Portraits suggest that de Bergerac did have a big nose, though not nearly as large as described in Rostand’s work but he may have got his inspiration from the real-life Cyrano’s book about a utopia on the moon – a place where children gave orders to their parents, paupers became kings and large noses were a mark of courtesy.
Cyrano’s story is refreshingly retold by Stefano Benni an Italian poet, satirical writer and journalist. Howard Curtis’ translation has expertly recreated all the verse recited by Cyrano in the text and it is accompanied by the comic watercolour illustrations by Spanish illustrator, Miguel Tanco.
The Story of Cyrano de Bergerac is part of ‘The Save the Story’ series, a selection of classic stories from around the world that have been retold for today’s children. The series was conceived by Italian writer Alessandro Baricco working in close collaboration with the Scuola Holders in Turin, founded specially to develop new and innovative ways of telling stories.