I first read Cyrano de Bergerac when I was 19 years old. I knew nothing of the play but I knew the character’s name and the basic story (thanks to Philip Jose Farmer of all people).
The copy was used and I read it in the Quad of Columbia University as I was living nearby at the time. I read it in a single sitting, crying and laughing, and in the end sobbing.
It is, like so many of these things I note, one of those flashes of lightning that mark the soul even as they define it.
It was years later that I finally saw the film version with Jose Ferrer and in that instant, Cyrano stopped being me and became Ferrer. I’ve never been able to think of the character without hearing Ferrer’s voice or imagining his face and in fact, whenever I see Jose Ferrer in any other piece of film, I think to myself, “Look, it’s Cyrano.”