Cyrano de Bergerac, the hero of the theater really existed, but the imaginary character is more alive and more believable in the minds of the public than the original man. Yonnick Flot will try to tell us who the real Cyrano was in his work "Cyrano de Paris - the Bergerac mystery ". This work turned out to be complicated, due to the lack of testimonies, although a first biography was carried out in 1893 by P. Antonin Brun, quite inaccurate, with gray areas and large gaps. In addition, archival documents are very rare.
The life of Savinien by Cyrano de Bergerac
Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac and de Manières was born in Paris in the 2nd arrondissement (current district of Les Halles) in March 1619. “De Bergerac” and “De Manières” come from fiefdoms that the family held in the Chevreuse valley. Savinien has four brothers and a sister. His grandfather was a merchant selling sea fish for the King. His father, Abel de Cyrano, was a squire in 1636. Savinien spent a childhood in the countryside and kept the name Bergerac in order to enter the Cadets de Gascogne more easily.
In 1631, Savinien returned to Paris to study at the Collège de Clermont. Not continuing in higher education, he enlisted as an infantryman with the Cadets de Gascogne, under Louis XIII. Curious attitude since it is the opposite of his character: maybe he had no more food? perhaps he had had some trouble with the law? Although he is a skilled marksman, his war wounds are numerous (musket blows, sword blows). He participated in the Fronde, first against the Bourbons, then he supported Mazarin even though Savinien was reluctant to use any authority. Both from the Jesuits, the cardinal recognizes in Savinien an original spirit. Soldier during the Thirty Years' War against the Spaniards, he then served Louis XIV.
Back from the armies in 1641, he did not try to obtain a position, he stayed with his father and became a student again at the College of Lisieux; he takes dance lessons and is enrolled with a fencing master for two years, the fees of which are paid by his father.
His private life and his loves are practically unknown: he drinks spiritual rather than earthly foods, drinking water, frequenting not taverns but bookstores, spending his little money there, rather than on fine clothes. (little flirtatious, no wigs, long hair). His childhood friend Henri Le Bret does not give details about his physique, so we will not know more about his "nose". Some engravings show an appendix without being extravagant, some scars and a face of character.
During this period, he met Gassendi (sciences), Chapelle (literature) and Campanella (philosopher). He is a curious collection of friends, attracted to each other, yet Savinien is by no means effeminate, he is a tough fellow, tough guy, but with great sensitivity on the skin; often hurt lover, passionate, never married and having no children. In 1648, his parents no longer of this world, he received a small nest egg allowing him to end his tragedy "the death of Agrippina".
In 1649, he wrote "mazarinades", then published a letter against the Frondeurs; he moved to the left bank of Paris and devoted himself solely to writing, to walks in the parks, which he recounts in his letters "against Winter" or "from the aqueduct or the Arcueil fountain" .
Money becoming scarce, he did not always have enough to eat and ended up agreeing to have a rich protector in the person of the Duke of Arpajon, Peer of the kingdom, lieutenant general of the royal armies. Staying in the Ducal Palace, board and lodging are guaranteed. The Duke had "Death of Agrippina" published at his own expense, but Savinien was fired for the libertine tone he used in his tragedy.
In 1654, shortly before its end, Savinien confessed his weariness to cross swords, preferring oratory games in the Latin Quarter. He suffers an accident which will be fatal. A dangerous head injury left him bedridden for many months with a high fever, at the home of his cousin Pierre II de Cyrano, where he died in July 1655. His friend Le Bret spoke of a piece of wood received on the head: attack? crime? anything is possible, since at the hotel of Arpajon, strange facts had occurred (fire and attack of coach). No investigation is carried out, no official document is published, there is only the testimony of the parish priest "who died as a good Christian". His death is an unsolved enigma.
The character of Savinien by Cyrano de Bergerac
According to his childhood friend, Savinien had "a strong tongue" but had a passion for study, reading, writing and the freedom to think. Recalcitrant in the discipline, he skips school, walking in the forest, listening to birdsong and various noises, bathing in ponds as he will tell in his novels. Lover, epicurean philosopher, fine literate, scholar in science and letters, inventor of science fiction literature, original, misunderstood in his time, he has a great thirst for freedom, refusing the established order and expressing his revolt with humor. Believing "obliged" with rebellious ideas, while being rather skeptical in matters of religion, one often finds his hostility to the patriarchy, to the head of the family as in his comedy "the Pedant played". Growing in age, he fiercely defends the Greek and Latin texts, tolerating no jokes about it. He has knowledge and skills in all areas.
The writings of Savinien by Cyrano de Bergerac
Many personalities are in favor of Cyrano "he is terribly a writer" with his private or published letters, commissioned texts, and anticipation novels. And although there are the "libertine works of Cyrano de Bergerac" published at the beginning of the 20th century, his work contains very few saucy or erotic texts.
Following his walks, Savinien wrote two novels "States and Empires of the Moon" and "States and Empires of the Sun". They are works prized by academics, telling the mysteries of the human condition on other planets, rebelling against received ideas here below, imagining extraterrestrial life as a natural evidence, a beautiful mixture where trees and animals reason, nature being a foster mother, as Montaigne had already written a few decades earlier. These two texts will really inspire Hergé, Jules Verne, Orson Welles.
Savinien is also the author of a tragedy "The Death of Agrippina", written in 1647-1648, performed only once a few years later, about the threefold love story: a masterpiece of the classical language.
Finally, his comedy "Le Pédant Joué", written in 1645-1646, performed in 1654, without success, is based on an actual event at the Collège de Beauvais, the main character of which is the principal of the school. The comedy could not be printed due to "religious irreverence", with Cyrano mocking the Catholic mass.
Savinien is dead, Cyrano is born.
Cyrano de Bergerac was born thanks to Edmond Rostand. The first performance took place in December 1897: 40 rappels, an hour of applause, shouts of joy and the spectators refusing to leave the hall. A real success. Since then, a multitude of actors want to play the role of Cyrano, in spite of errors of date or of situation and in spite of the criticisms published in the newspapers like the “Mercure de France” considering that this comedy is “the art of bad writing” ...
Cyrano from Paris. The BergeracCyrano mystery of Paris. The Bergerac mystery, by Yonnick Flot. La Bisquine, 2018