'Tonight When I make my sweeping bow at heaven's gate, One thing I shall still possess, at any rate, Unscathed, something outlasting mortal flesh, And that is ...My panache.' The first English translation of Cyra de Bergerac, in 1898, introduced the word panache into the English language. This single word summed up Rostand's rejection of the social realism which dominated late nineteenth-century theatre. He wrote his 'heroic comedy', unfashionably, in verse, and set it in the reign of Louis XIII and the Three Musketeers. Based on the life of a little kwn writer, Rostand's hero has become a figure of theatrical legend: Cyra, with the se of a clown and the soul of a poet, is by turns comic and sad, as reckless in love as in war, and never at a loss for words. Audiences immediately took him to their hearts, and since the triumphant opening night in December 1897 - at the height of the Dreyfus Affair - the play has never lost its appeal. The text is accompanied by tes and a full introduction which sets the play in its literary and historical context. Christopher Fry's acclaimed translation into 'chiming couplets' represents the homage of one verse dramatist to ather. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful tes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Nicholas Cronk is a Fellow and Tutor in French at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. Christopher Fry is a verse playwright. He is the author of many well-known plays including The Lady's not for Burning.