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July 28: Cyrano de Bergerac’s death day

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It’s Cyrano de Bergerac’s death day. He died on this day in 1655, finally succumbing to wounds suffered during an initially botched, but eventually successful, assassination attempt. But you’re probably thinking, “Hold on now, Cyrano de Bergerac was a real person? I thought he was just the lead character in that play of the same name, and that Steve Martin movie, the one about the eloquent long-nosed dude in love with the unattainable Roxane.” Well, while it’s true that Edmond Rostand’s play may seem like an idle fantasy, it was based on a real person. In his day Cyrano was a man of no small renown in libertine Paris. He was a well-regarded novelist and playwright, not to mention a highly active and capable duelist. And a fantastic drunkard. He spent all his free time drinking, whoring, gambling, running up huge debts he had no intention of repaying, and, as previously mentioned, getting in duels, none of which he lost, even when he showed up rip-roaring drunk. And yes, he had a very long nose. So tonight let’s not raise a drink to the death of a mere legend, but to a real man, a true adventurer who knew what it was to be a bon vivant and a bel esprit.