Brobdingnagian Proboscis Day

Brobdingnagian Proboscis Day

  • Post category:History
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Celebrated every year on December 28.

Brobdingnagian Proboscis Day celebrates the anniversary of the premiere of the fictionalized story of Cyrano de Bergerac in theaters in 1897 in Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin in Paris.

Cyrano de Bergerac, written by Edmond Rostand, is known as a story about a man with an oversized nose and an even more voluminous and highly theatrical vocabulary.
The story of how he loved a lady but thinking she would reject him for his , he helped a friend woo her.
But both men misjudged her character. For she had a sharp mind and an appetite for truth over show.
Inevitably she saw right through the words, through the facade, past the nose and fell in love with Cyrano.

The real Cyrano lived centuries before the play was written from 1619 to 1655.
He wrote novels and plays and prided himself on being a “duelist“.
Rumors were that the latter became his timely demise.
Cyrano was well educated and developed a skepticism that made him challenge authority in poetic as well as physically confrontational ways.
The stories he wrote were mostly science fiction and romance.
Remember this are the 1600-somethings.
Someone was already writing about space travel back then, with aliens and talking earrings.

Two centuries later the man became a myth.
How poetic that a person with such a love for narrative would find himself to be a character of fiction centuries later.
In a story where he would play cupid, fight with the three musketeers and his nose was exaggerated into a protrusive Brobdingnagian proboscis.

Oh and about that word “Brobdingnagian”…
That is a word that finds it’s origin in yet another novelist who lived after Cyrano de Bergerac, but probably would have loved his work.
Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels in 1726.
One of the groups Gulliver encountered on his travels were the giant people of Brobdingnag.
Since then, the English language gained a word “Brobdingnagian” for anything that was considerably larger than the usual size.
It fits quite well with the colorful use of language that Cyrano favored to say “Brobdingnagian Proboscis” instead of the quite simple “big nose”.

The insufferable arrogance of human beings
to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit,
as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire
merely to ripen men’s apples
and head their cabbages.

— Cyrano de Bergerac
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