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 first attempts at playwriting. Le Gant rouge (the red glove), a comedy written in collaboration with Henry Lee, his future brother-in-law, was staged in 1888 but was not well received. Les Musardises met with mixed reviews in 1890. In the same year Rostand married Gérard, who was herself a poet (her collection Les Pipeaux was published in 1889). According to Rostand’s biographer...
(The entire section is 763 words.)