Cyrano wrote sci-fi?

It wasn’t all about the big nose and fighting duels. Cyrano de Bergerac also ventured into the realm of science fiction, although his two novels weren’t published until after his death. (He died young, at age 36!) The books are “L’Autre Monde: ou les √Čtats et Empires de la Lune (The Other World: The States and Empires of the Moon)” and “Les √Čtats et Empires du Soleil (The States and Empires of the Sun)”. I haven’t been able to read the books myself, but from reading about them online I gather that Cyrano was less concerned with scientific realism and more interested in using the fantastic realm as a platform for social commentary (and criticism). As such, his work is very much in line with a major current running through later science fiction; the displacement of people and personalities into a new environment uniquely enables us to gain perspective on our own strengths and weaknesses.

Would his prose hold up today? Would it be amusingly or irritatingly naive in terms of science? Would Jules Verne have approved (200 years later)? I may never know! I dug up a copy of the original text online, but it is not only in French, it’s in ancient 17th-century French, and it would take me approximately a century to muddle through it. Someday, in my copious spare time…

2 Comments
1 of 1 people learned something from this entry.

  1. Umaa said,

    June 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    I had no idea Cyrano de Bergerac was a real person!

  2. Kiri said,

    June 21, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Me neither! I knew him only from Edmond Rostand’s book (and the Steve Martin movie “Roxanne”).

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