Cyrano de Bergerac

While doing some on-line research I came across a fact (little-known to me) about Cyrano de Bergerac (of whom countless tales have been told & re-told, not the least retelling of which was "Roxanne" with Steve Martin - gotta love the little alien suction cup action (since I couldn't find that clip - I put in this one, which has nothing to do with spec fiction - but it's fun! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWIz_AfWW4s

Anyway - Cyrano wrote a book commonly called "A Voyage to the Moon." (full text and notes here: http://www.bewilderingstories.com/special/tow.html And, in this book, he takes a trip to the moon - via Canada... in a suit of bottles filled with dew... it's fascinating so far! (I've just started reading it.) It's not just science fiction though, there are all kinds of politics of the times involved. It is interesting to note that it was written before the apple fell on Newton & while the belief of the earth and other planets revolving around the sun was still a question.

Here are a few quotes from the notes at the end of some of the chapters. These were written by Donald Webb - who did the translation of the text, too.

"Like any other author, Cyrano uses travel as a literary device: the things he has to do necessarily take him to distant places. And yet, like modern-day science-fiction authors he is not content with dreams, magic or miracles but is genuinely interested in how such voyages might be accomplished."


"Cyrano was no mathematical genius like Cardano or Descartes, nor was he a physicist like Torricelli and Pascal (all but Cardano were his contemporaries), but he understood what science was doing. Cyrano’s arguments and examples are sometimes comical and sometimes quaint, taken as they often are from kitchen and garden. However, the images of a fireplace turning about a roast and a coastline moving past a ship seem particularly striking: they parody and caution against an egocentric point of view. As a teacher, Cyrano would have been very fond of modern visual aids and multimedia. Cyrano’s examples may seem a little far-fetched, but they effectively underscore his organic concept of nature."


"The space aliens have been hard at work with Earthlings in the fields of alchemy and herbalism. We may smile at that, but we must also excuse Cyrano if he points out with a trace of impatience that, once stripped of charlatanry, those efforts led directly to modern chemistry, pharmacy and medicine."


"Cyrano introduces a concept often found in modern science fiction: organisms that seem to consist of energy patterns."


"Cyrano lived 259 years before the time that historian Raymond Aron would aptly call “the century of total war” and that Albert Camus would call “the century of fear.” And yet Cyrano — himself a combat veteran of the Thirty Years War — knew as well as anyone that war proves its own futility except to those who have grown too fond of it."


"Needless to say, science fiction has found a gold mine in the topic of space aliens’ covertly or overtly influencing Earth’s history. As in the case of Cyrano’s latest friend, the results are always somewhat mixed. To take only one example: in the classic film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) — a Biblical allegory, as it happens — the visitor from space first appears officially but then works in secret after his initial attempt at first contact proves unsuccessful."


It's fascinating to me that book this was written in the 1600's! I intend to read it! 

7 comments:

beth said...

I knew that! :D I used to teach Cyrano de Bergerac, and the kids loved learning about his fiction.

beth said...

I knew that! :D I used to teach Cyrano de Bergerac, and the kids loved learning about his fiction.

beth said...

I knew that! :D I used to teach Cyrano de Bergerac, and the kids loved learning about his fiction.

N. R. Williams said...

This sounds incredibly interesting. I saw a program on the History Channel about aliens and some of the guest seem to think every advancement of man can be attributed to aliens. Being both a writer and an artist, I know full well that our imagination can take us anywhere we want. No need for a flying saucer. I think some will believe this author visited by aliens, I believe he had a great imagination. Glad to meet you and now I'm a follower.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Melody said...

Oooooh, this is cool! I had no idea that they were writing science fiction that long ago!

Julia Karr said...

N.R. Williams - there are definitely alien visitors mentioned in Cyrano's book!

Melody - I had no idea either - it's sooo cool!

beth said...

WTHeck? No idea why mine posted three times!