Edmond Rostand

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Rostand, Edmond

(ĕdmôN` rôstäN`), 1868–1918, French poet and dramatist. In 1890 appeared his first volume of verse, Les Musardises. His first plays were light, fanciful, and charmingly poetic, though of slight substance—Les Romanesques (1894, tr., The Romancers, 1899); La Princesse lointaine (1895, tr. The Princess Faraway, 1899), written for Sarah Bernhardt; and La Samaritaine (1897, tr. The Woman of Samaria, from his Plays, 1921). They were followed by Cyrano de Bergerac (1897, tr. 1923), a tour de force of dramatic poetry. The role of Cyrano was made memorable by the acting of Coquelin aîné, Richard Mansfield, and, on the screen (1950), Jose Ferrer. In 1900 Rostand wrote L'Aiglon, whose central figure is the pathetic duke of Reichstadt (Napoleon II), a role long played by Sarah Bernhardt. His barnyard fable Chantecler (1910) was played in the United States by Maude Adams.

Rostand, Edmond


Born Apr. 1, 1868, in Marseille; died Dec. 2, 1918, in Paris. French poet and playwright. Member of the Académie Française (1901).

Rostand was educated as a lawyer. In his first play, the comedy The Romantics (staged and published 1894), Rostand affirms the beauty of natural feelings. The drama The Far-off Princess (staged and published 1895) glorifies lofty chivalrous love and presents motifs from medieval legends.

Turning to progressive national traditions, Rostand wrote his best play, Cyrano de Bergerac (staged 1897, published 1898). The playwright endowed his protagonist, the poet Cyrano de Bergerac, with strong emotions expressed in an elevated romantic manner; exalted love for a woman merges with love for one’s country. The plot centers on Cyrano’s conflict with his mean, philistine environment. Rostand’s chief literary device is romantic antithesis. His verse is light, graceful, and witty. Cyrano de Bergerac was translated into many languages and brought Rostand world renown. It was first performed in Russia in 1898 in St. Petersburg, in T. L. Shchepkina-Kupernik’s translation, and has been performed in Russian and Soviet theaters since that time.

Rostand also wrote the Bonapartist drama The Eaglet (staged and published 1900). The play Chanticleer (staged and published 1910) glorified an enthusiastic idealist. Rostand’s last plays are mannered and are marked by verbal ostentation.


Oeuvres complètes illustrées, vols. 1–6. Paris, 1910–25.
In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1914.
Sirano de Berzherak. Moscow-Leningrad, 1938. P’esy. Moscow, 1958.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Gorky, M. “’Sirano de Berzherak’: Geroicheskaia komediia E. Rostana.” Sobr. soch., vol. 23. Moscow, 1953.
Lunacharskii, A. V. “Sirano pervyi i Sirano vtoroi.” Sobr. soch., vol. 6. Moscow, 1965.
Shchepkina-Kupernik, T. L. Teatr ν moei zhizni. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Lautier, A., and F. Keller. E. Rostand: son oeuvre. Paris, 1924.
Ripert, E. E. Rostand. [Paris, 1968.]
Dabadie, M. Lettre à ma nièce sur E. Rostand. [Toulouse, 1970.]