Edmond Rostand, the man who wanted to do well, François Taillandier: argument for a misunderstood

Home"Anciens2"Edmond Rostand, the man who wanted to do well, François Taillandier: argument for a misunderstood
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WOMEN AND THEIR MODEL - Delivering themselves with pleasure in an exercise of admiration, Frédéric Vitoux, François Taillandier, Benoît Duteurtre and Christian Authier each celebrate a writer or an artist who has been with them for a long time. Chapter 4: François Taillandier and Edmond Rostand.

It's been a long time since François Taillandier had promised to write this book to pay tribute to Edmond Rostand, the idol of his fifteen years. If he delayed, it was because he knew that it would be difficult for him to transmit his passion for the author of Cyrano . At first sight, Rostand has less charm than his hero. Bravery was not his forte. As for its "verbal virtuosity" which sometimes turns to "the preciousness", it is no longer the taste of our time. And yet ...

François Taillandier.
François Taillandier. - Photo credits: Jean-Christophe MARMARA / Le Figaro

Born in 1868 among the liberal bourgeoisie of Marseille, the young Edmond only thought of writing verses. He was not a rebel, just a dreamer. He will never rise up against the conformism of his environment. He preferred to dine with the rich than frequent the literary cafes where the world is redone. Bohemia, very little for him. Seen from the other end of the twentieth century, knowing that the poetic revolution operated by Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rimbaud had taken place, it is difficult to understand. In spite of his all-out curiosity, he will only write Alexandrines and Octosyllables. He was not a visionary writer. Unlike Taillandier, who has always been keenly aware of his time, he did not feel that Belle Epoque France was dancing on a vacuum.

Taillandier, evoking the beginnings of Rostand in the theater, writes: "We formed ourselves of what a poet is, a completely different idea than that of this young married with a false collar and gaiters, who appears to have emerged from a vaudeville of Eugene Labiche.

The cause of Rostand, therefore, seemed lost in advance. In this respect, this work has the beauty of pleadings where lawyers at the top of their art put all their faith and deploy the best of their talent to do justice to a man they can not rehabilitate in the eyes of society. What a panache!

To better surprise and shoe his reader when he reveals the deep cracks of his hero too prickly, Taillandier drives the nail. He cites examples of Rostand's "choppy style". He feels sorry for himself and seems to blush for himself for having adored this "sensibility that turns to the foolishness". He wonders. Why, romantic teenager in France after 68, did he take a passion for this "old glory"?

Rostand, after the miraculous success of "Cyrano" when he was twenty-nine, was as famous as Jean d'Ormesson and Johnny gathered

Ah, the glory ... The eternal teenagers of old do not dream of them nowadays? Rostand, after the miraculous success of Cyrano when he was twenty-nine and his election to the Academy in the wake, was as famous as Jean d'Ormesson and Johnny together. All France loves him. Taillandier explains why Cyrano, defeated magnificent, saved by his words, full of moral nobility, pride, humor, touches the French of the time. To the point that we sell pipes, biscuits and ointments with the effigy of Cyrano. Rostand becomes a sort of official poet. Women fall at his feet.

But the pictures of him all smiles as published by the press are misleading. In fact, Rostand is a tortured and misunderstood. That's why Taillandier likes it. The public believes, for example, that his play on the Aiglon exalts the imperial glory while it is the story of a velletic young man, crushed by the stature of the father, who is scuttled. He will write it himself, in the epigraph of the play published in book: "And this is nothing else / That the story of a poor child."

- Photo credits: The Observatory

Here we are. Basically, Rostand is a big feverish child who wants to do too well. He takes things so seriously that he gets sick. An idealist. He multiplies the conquests that reassure him, neglecting his devoted wife without which he would perhaps never have come to the end of the writing of Cyrano. But he longs for something else. "It is for Heaven that great loves work," he writes.

Reason, peroration. Taillandier punctuates his story by alternating points of view. Ask him about it. Staged the era in striking paintings. Look at Rostand's work and reveal the hidden beauties. We want to read The Samaritan, inspired by the evangelical episode. And The Last Night of Don Juan, the story of a man who wanted to own everything but knew nothing, liked nothing, created nothing, "one of the most beautiful Don Juan never written after Molière, after Mozart ".

The end is coming. During the war, before dying in 1918, Rostand put his pen in the service of his homeland but did not question the absurd trench butchery. This lack of vision and critical thinking disappoints Taillandier. He seems ready to let go. But in a final flight, summoning Aragon who, in 1940, will return to Alexandrine to speak to all the French, he saves the master he loved so much. We applaud.

"Edmond Rostand, the man who wanted to do well", François Taillandier, Ed. of the Observatory, 231 p., 19 €.



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