Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
This descendant of Pierre Corneille and Victor Hugo, the last great romanticist of the French theater, was born the son of a prominent journalist and economist. Like so many other dramatists, Edmond Rostand (raw-stah) was educated in law, although his interest was in poetry. His first publication was a book of poems, Les Musardises, published in 1890 and dedicated to Rosemond Gérard, whom he married that same year. Generally considered overly personal, his book earned less respect than his wife’s collection of poems Les Pipeaux (1889), cited by the French Academy for its sensitivity.
Despite his unpromising beginning and his dislike of the climate, he settled in Paris as a professional writer. While he never sought praise or even approval—indeed, his inclinations, interests, and tastes ran counter to the feeling of the times—he won both for the 1894 Comédie Française production of The Romancers (the title has also been translated as The Romantics), a slight comedy in which the young lovers take their cues from Romeo and Juliet. He wrote several plays for actress Sarah Bernhardt: In The Far Princess she played the title role, falling in love with a troubadour; in The Eaglet Bernhardt essayed the role of Napoleon’s ineffectual son.
Edmond Rostand’s penchant for writing starring roles for outstanding actors gave the world its most famous poetic drama, the historical romance...
(The entire section is 558 words.)
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Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand was born into an upper-middle-class family with deep roots in the south of France that can be traced back to the sixteenth century. His father, Eugène, and his paternal uncle Alexis were distinguished economists who also managed to cultivate their gifts for poetry and music, respectively: Eugène translated Catullus and wrote the librettos for Alexis’s oratorios. The young Rostand was a shy and studious child who loved to read and play with marionettes; his favorite authors were Sir Walter Scott and Alexandre Dumas, père. During long summer vacations in the Pyrenees, he developed a deep attachment for the region; there he also wrote his first poems. After completing primary school and six years at the Marseilles Lycée, he was sent to the Collège Stanislas in Paris to complete his secondary education. His teachers there introduced him to the work of William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Alfred de Musset (some echoes of Musset’s comedies may be detected in The Romantics and The Far Princess). Rostand’s other literary heroes were Miguel de Cervantes and Victor Hugo.
Untouched by the naturalists and Symbolists, he was not drawn into any of the literary circles of Paris. Through his future wife, Rosemonde Gérard, he made the acquaintance of the poet Leconte de Lisle, her godfather, but received no encouragement from him. At his father’s urging, he began to study law while making his...
(The entire section is 763 words.)
Edmond (Eugene Alexis) Rostand was born on April 1, 1868 in Marseilles, France. The son of a prominent journalist and economist, Rostand was encouraged to write from a very early age. In his teens he began creating plays for marionette (puppet) theater, and, at the age of sixteen, had several poems and essays published in the literary magazine Mireille. At the College Stanislas in Paris he studied literature, philosophy, and history before going on to study law at the local university. Rostand's ambition, however, was to be a writer, and though he completed the coursework, he never practiced law.
Rostand's first play, Le gant rouge (1888), and his first book of poetry, Les musardises (1890), were largely ignored by both critics and the public. It was Les romanesques (The Romancers, 1894) which served as his breakthrough. Produced at the Comedie Francaise in 1894, its romantic style stood in contrast to the naturalism and symbolism practiced by many of his contemporaries such as Henrik Ibsen and Maurice Maeterlinck.
On April 8, 1890, Rostand married Rosemonde Gerard, who was herself a poet. Their marriage produced two children, Maurice and Jean. La princesse lointaine (The Princess Far-Away, 1895) solidified Rostand's reputation, and its production marked the beginning of his professional alliance with the famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt. Known for her passionate performances, Bernhardt...
(The entire section is 498 words.)