Other literary forms
In the course of his brief and turbulent life, Cyrano de Bergerac (SEE-rah-noh deh BEHR-zheh-rahk) tried his hand at an array of genres and acquitted himself honorably in all of them. His tragedy La Mort d’Agrippine (pr. 1653) compares favorably with the lesser works of Pierre Corneille. Cyrano’s one comedy, Le Pédant joué (pb. 1954; the pedant outwitted), though never staged in his lifetime, was almost certainly the unacknowledged source of two highly effective scenes in Molière’s Les Fourberies de Scapin (pr., pb. 1671; The Cheats of Scapin, 1701). Le Pédant joué is essentially a burlesque of the pedantry and préciosité that were rife in Cyrano’s day—though Cyrano himself could tap a “precious” vein when he chose.
The same gift for burlesque is evident in Cyrano’s satiric poem, or mazarinade (attack on Cardinal Mazarin), of 1649, Le Ministre d’état flambé (the minister of state goes up in flames), and in the best of his letters. The latter were not genuine correspondence but showpieces designed for publication. They are of several kinds: love letters full of exaggerated compliments and reproaches, set off by far-fetched figures of speech in the worst précieux style; elaborate and fanciful descriptions of nature; satiric attacks on real and imagined enemies; and polemic pieces on a variety of political and philosophical issues. The letters “For the Sorcerers” and “Against the Sorcerers” are especially noteworthy for their satiric power and cogency of argument; they also anticipate the attacks on superstition and intolerance in Other Worlds, Cyrano’s most important work.