THE ANTI-CANON—CYRANO. There is a lot of discussion about the “Western canon”—the books that are considered to be, as wikipedia says, the”greatest works of artistic merit.” There also seems to be what might be considered an “anti-canon”, books which are supposed to be rejected by people of discrimination. I admire a lot of books which seem to be in the “anti-canon.” I thought of this when I was glancing at an article about Ayn Rand by Thomas Mallon in the November 9 New Yorker. Ayn Rand, of course, is in the anti-canon (I can’t comment because I’ve never read her). Mallon is quoting Rand’s “strident and bizarre” opinions at one point to demonstrate that she was a “poor reader.” He points out with evident scorn that Rand called “Cyrano de Bergerac” “the greatest play in the history of Romantic literature.” I think Cyrano is a great play, and if the class is limited to Romantic plays, it might be the best and the most Romantic.

This entry was posted in Literature. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Dick Weisfelder says:

    If you want to get a feeling for Rand’s agenda, read her short novel, Anthem. The themes found in Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged appear there in somewhat less subtle form. Check out her philosophy, “objectivism” also.

    We saw an excellent production of Cyrano at Stratford this summer.

  2. Mary Jane Schaefer says:

    “Cyrano” is Romanticism without being an explanatory document of the term. Authenticity, bravery, wit, and “ideal love” are at the core of it all. And perfectly executed, except, of course, if one were to take exception to the core deception: poor Roxanne is made to pay with her entire empty life, living on memories of the wrong man, because Cyrano and Christian have conspired against her!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.