Maeterlinck, Maurice

Maeterlinck, Maurice

▪ Belgian author
in full  Maurice Polydore-Marie-Bernard Maeterlinck,  also called (from 1932)  Comte Maeterlinck  
born August 29, 1862, Ghent, Belgium
died May 6, 1949, Nice, France

      Belgian Symbolist poet, playwright, and essayist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1911 for his outstanding works of the Symbolist (Symbolist movement) theatre. He wrote in French and looked mainly to French literary movements for inspiration.

      Maeterlinck studied law at the University of Ghent and was admitted to the bar in that city in 1886. In Paris in 1885–86 he met Auguste Villiers de L'Isle-Adam (Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Auguste, comte de) and the leaders of the Symbolist movement, and he soon abandoned law for literature. His first verse collection, Serres chaudes (“Hothouses”), and his first play, La Princesse Maleine, were published in 1889. Maeterlinck made a dramatic breakthrough in 1890 with two one-act plays, L'Intruse (The Intruder) and Les Aveugles (The Blind). His Pelléas et Mélisande (1892), produced in Paris at the avant-garde Théâtre de l'Oeuvre (Oeuvre, Théâtre de l') by the director Aurélien Lugné-Poë (Lugné-Poë, Aurélien), is the unquestioned masterpiece of Symbolist drama and provided the basis for an opera (1902) by Claude Debussy (Debussy, Claude). Set in a nebulous, fairy-tale past, the play conveys a mood of hopeless melancholy and doom in its story of the destructive passion of Princess Mélisande, who falls in love with her husband's younger brother, Pelléas. Though written in prose, Pelléas et Mélisande may be considered the most accomplished of all 19th-century attempts at poetic drama.

      Maeterlinck wrote many other plays, including historical dramas such as Monna Vanna (1902). Gradually, his Symbolism was tempered by his interest in English drama, especially William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William) and the Jacobeans (English literature). Only L'Oiseau bleu (1908; The Blue Bird) rivaled Pelléas et Mélisande in popularity. An allegorical fantasy conceived as a play for children, it portrays a search for happiness in the world. First performed by the Moscow Art Theatre in 1908, this somewhat sentimental dramatic parable was highly regarded for a time, but its charm has evaporated, and the optimism of the play now seems facile. After he won the Nobel Prize, however, his reputation declined, although his Le Bourgmestre de Stilmonde (1917; The Burgomaster of Stilmonde), a patriotic play in which he explores the problems of Flanders under the wartime rule of an unprincipled German officer, briefly enjoyed great success.

      In his Symbolist plays, Maeterlinck uses poetic speech, gesture, lighting, setting, and ritual to create images that reflect his protagonists' moods and dilemmas. Often the protagonists are waiting for something mysterious and fearful that will destroy them. The profound and moving atmosphere of the plays, though lacking in intellectual complexity, is augmented by tentative dialogue, based on half-formed suggestions, at times naively repetitious, and occasionally sentimental, but sometimes possessed of great subtlety and power. As a dramatist, Maeterlinck influenced Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Hofmannsthal, Hugo von), W.B. Yeats (Yeats, William Butler), John Millington Synge (Synge, John Millington), and Eugene O'Neill (O'Neill, Eugene). Maeterlinck's plays have been widely translated, and no Belgian dramatist had greater effect on worldwide audiences.

      Maeterlinck's prose writings are remarkable blends of mysticism, occultism, and interest in the world of nature. They represent the common Symbolist reaction against materialism, science, and mechanization and are concerned with such questions as the immortality of the soul, the nature of death, and the attainment of wisdom. Maeterlinck presented his mystical speculations in Le Trésor des humbles (1896; The Treasure of the Humble) and La Sagesse et la destinée (1898; “Wisdom and Destiny”). His most widely read prose writings, however, are two extended essays, La Vie des abeilles (1901; The Life of the Bee) and L'Intelligence des fleurs (1907; The Intelligence of Flowers), in which Maeterlinck sets out his philosophy of the human condition. Maeterlinck was made a count by the Belgian king in 1932.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Maeterlinck, Maurice (Polydore-Marie-Bernard) — later Comte Maeterlinck born Aug. 29, 1862, Ghent, Belg. died May 6, 1949, Nice, France Belgian playwright and poet. He studied law in Ghent but soon turned to writing poems and plays. His Pelléas et Mélisande (1892), considered the masterpiece… …   Universalium

  • Maeterlinck, Maurice (Polydore-Marie-Bernard) — post. conde de Maeterlinck (29 ago. 1862, Gante, Bélgica–6 may. 1949, Niza, Francia). Dramaturgo y poeta belga. Fue alumno de derecho en Gante, pero al poco tiempo se dedicó a escribir teatro y poesía. En 1892 creó Peleas y Melisanda, considerada …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Maeterlinck, Maurice — ► (1862 1949) Escritor belga en lengua francesa. Su obra, poética e imaginativa, grávida de preocupaciones filosóficas es, en general, una reacción contra el naturalismo. Son célebres sus obras dramáticas La intrusa (1890) y Pelléas y Mélisande… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • MAETERLINCK, MAURICE —    Belgian dramatist, born at Ghent; earned his fame by La Princesse Maleine, produced in Paris 1890, and followed by L Intruse, Les Aveugles, and several other plays; his essays show religious sympathies; b. 1864 …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Maeterlinck — Maeterlinck, Maurice …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Maurice Maeterlinck — Born Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard 29 August 1862(1862 08 29) Ghent, Belgium Died 6 May 1949( …   Wikipedia

  • Maeterlinck — Maurice Maeterlinck Georgette Leblanc als Monna Vanna in Paris …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Maurice Maeterlinck — Nombre completo Maurice Maeterlinck Nacimiento 29 de agosto de 1862 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Maeterlinck — (Maurice) (1862 1949) écrivain belge d expression française. Poète symboliste (les Serres chaudes, 1889; Douze Chansons, 1896), il écrivit de nombr. drames; le plus célèbre est Pelléas et Mélisande (1892, dont Debussy tira un opéra en 1902); la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Maurice Maeterlinck — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Maeterlinck. Maurice Maeterlinck Mau …   Wikipédia en Français

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