Maurice Maeterlinck

Definition

Theater

  • (1862 - 1949) Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist, whospent most of his life in France. A leading figure in the Symbolistmovement, Maeterlinck was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in1911.

    Maeterlinck's early dramas, La Princesse Maleine (1889)and Les Aveugles (1890), reflect the interest in mysticismthat is characteristic of almost all his work. International recognitioncame with Pelléas et Mélisande (1892), firstproduced in Paris at the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre by the directorAurélian Lugné-Poë. With its dream-like action,enigmatic characters, and doom-laden atmosphere, the play is the epitomeof Symbolist drama. It opened in London in 1893 with Mrs Patrick Campbellin the role of Mélisande. The children's fantasy L'Oiseaubleu, first performed in 1908 by the Moscow Art Theatre,also proved extremely popular during Maeterlinck's lifetime (a filmversion starring Shirley Temple being made in 1940). However, itsallegorical treatment of the search for happiness in the world nowappears somewhat glib. The patriotic play Le Bourgmestre de Stilmonde(1918) was once highly regarded, as were Maeterlinck's philosophicalwritings on themes from natural history, which are now largely forgotten.Although Maeterlinck's reputation has suffered with the passage oftime, no other Belgian dramatist has made such an impact upon thedevelopment of world drama.

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