- This article is about the 17th century French writer. For the play by Edmond Rostand see Cyrano de Bergerac (play).
Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac (March 6, 1619 - July 28, 1655) was a French soldier, duelist and author. His works, which are mostly of a satirical nature, include novels, plays, letters in both verse and prose and one unfinished scientific study. His novels Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon and Comical History of the States and Empires of the Sun are considered to be among the earliest works of science fiction. According to Arthur C. Clarke, because Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon was the first work to describe a rocket-powered flight into outer space, Cyrano de Bergerac was the inventor of the ramjet. Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon and Comical History of the States and Empires of the Sun, with their mixture of science and fantasy, were influential on Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and on the writings of Voltaire and Edgar Allan Poe.
The short life of Cyrano de Bergerac is not very well documented. Most of what is known about his life comes from the preface which his friend Henri Le Bret wrote for Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon, published nearly two years after Cyrano de Bergerac's death.
Savinien II de Cyrano was the fourth of six children of Espérance Bellanger and Abel I de Cyrano, Lord of Mauvières, Counsel of the Parliament of Paris. His grandfather, Savinien I de Cyrano, was fishmonger to King Henry II of France. Savinien II de Cyrano was born in Paris. His exact date of birth is unknown. It is known that he was baptized on March 6, 1619 and it is possible that he was born on the same day.
In 1622, Abel I de Cyrano inherited a country estate in the north-east of France and moved there with his family. The young Savinien de Cyrano failed to do well at the local village school. For that reason, at some point in his adolescence, it is unknown exactly when, his father sent him back to Paris. The adolescent Savinien de Cyrano was largely left to his own devices in the city. In 1635, Abel de Cyrano sold his country estate and moved back to Paris himself, although it is unlikely that the father and son lived together after that time.
in 1638, Savinien de Cyrano adopted the surname de Bergerac. He joined the army and fought in the Franco-Spanish War of 1635 to 1659. He was wounded in the throat at the Siege of Arras, which took place between June 13 and August 6, 1640. He is also said to have fought several duels during his military career.
After having left the army in 1641, Cyrano de Bergerac began to study philosophy under Pierre Gassendi, a Roman Catholic priest, philosopher, astronomer and mathematician. Cyrano de Bergerac's first published work, Au sot lecteur et non au sage (To the Foolish Reader and Not to the Wise One), which was originally written as a letter to his former lover, the poet and musician Charles Coypeau d'Assoucy, appeared in 1648.
Cyrano de Bergerac died at the age of 36 on July 28, 1655. He died at the home of his cousin Pierre de Cyrano in Sannois, a town in north-western France nine miles from Paris, and was buried at a local church. The cause of his death is unknown.
- Au sot lecteur et non au sage (To the Foolish Reader and Not to the Wise One, published in 1648)
- Les Mazarinades (a satire on Cardinal Mazarin and his followers, published in 1649)
- La Mort d'Agrippine (The Death of Agrippina, a tragic play set in Ancient Rome, published in 1653)
- Lettres (Letters, published in 1654)
- Le Pédant joué (The Pedant Tricked, a comic play set in a school, published in 1654)
- Histoire comique des États et empires de la Lune (Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon, published posthumously in 1657)
- Histoire comique des États et empires du Soleil (Comical History of the States and Empires of the Sun, published posthumously in 1662)
- Les Entretiens pointus (The Pointed Commentaries, published posthumously in 1662)
- Le Fragment de Physique (The Fragment of Physics, an unfinished scientific work, published posthumously in 1662)