Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Romance Languages

First Advisor

Eva Del Soldato

Abstract

Cyrano scholars have occasionally alluded to the influence Italian writers had on the French libertine’s literary canon. Yet, to date, there exists no comprehensive study of Cyrano’s use of Italian scholarship, in the elaboration of his philosophical views. This dissertation aims to fill these lacunas, by examining Italian texts in his paternal library, identifying Italian philosophical trends in his writings, and by orienting Cyrano’s practice of appropriation and adaptation within the cultural, sociopolitical, and intellectual milieu that gave rise to the contestation of accepted wisdom, and the emergence of nuanced ideas. As a case study, this dissertation examines Cyrano’s most famous work, L’Autre Monde (1657-1662), an encyclopedic novel that explores topics including natural magic, the infinite universe, cosmic pluralism, and sociocultural customs and norms. By expanding the limitations of creation, Cyrano brings his protagonist, Dyrcona, to encounter celestial civilizations, whose existence confounds orthodox beliefs about the universe, and whose traditions challenge those long revered on earth. An array of Italian writings provided Cyrano with thematic inspiration (on topics of travel, cosmology, and politics). Each Italian writer, though displaced in space and time, represented, albeit in different ways, a detachment from the bonds of tradition and opposition to the status quo. As a restive figure, Cyrano perceived Italian thinkers as kindred spirits, some of whom became characters in his novel, while others provided the many themes that pervade his work. Italian texts accommodate and support Cyrano’s intellectual program and reinforce each phase of his protagonist’s otherworldly voyage.

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