Pièce en quatre actes, en vers
French text with Introduction and comprehensive notes for each act in English, plus brief chronology of Rostand’s life.
Chantecler is the chef-d'oeuvre of Rostand's mature years, now deservedly being rediscovered in France. Our new edition, with text in French but comprehensive notes in English, will introduce readers to what many consider to be his best play.
Written in typically lively verse, Chantecler contains some of Edmond Rostand's best lyrical writing, including the famous “Hymn to the Sun” (quoted above). It also explores some of his favourite themes. This edition of the French text, published to mark Chantecler's centenary in February 2010, aims to make the play more accessible by giving it an introduction and comprehensive notes in English. It is our hope that this will enable many more readers to understand and enjoy this major play, which deserves to become as well-known as Cyrano de Bergerac.
Chantecler is the play of Rostand's maturity. It deals with the loss of illusions and the renewal of faith in one's vocation; the difficulties of creativity, and the role of the poet in society. In this most personal of all his plays, Rostand reveals his innermost being, even though he knew this would attract ridicule and scorn. Written when the poet, ill at ease with the fashionable life of Paris during the Belle Époque, had made his home in the Pyrenean countryside near Cambo, Chantecler is suffused with Rostand's love of his native soil. The simplicity and honesty of traditional provincial life are contrasted with the snobbish and cynical ways of the capital.
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Professor Derek Connon, of Swansea University, writing for Modern Languages Review, January 2011 (Vol.106, 1), has pointed out that “the main thrust of the drama is serious and poetic ... maintaining this when one's central character is effectively dressed in a chicken outfit proves difficult even for the playwright who made a romantic hero of the man with a huge nose.” Modern performances have dealt with this by dressing the characters like the humans they represent, such as giving the woodpecker the uniform of a French academician. Readers of course do not have this difficulty. Professor Connon concludes that “anglophone readers will find Lloyd's assistance invaluable in finding their way through Rostand's densely poetic and playful language.”