Maeterlinck, Maurice

Maeterlinck, Maurice môrēsˈ mätĕrlăNkˈ [key], 1862–1949, Belgian author who wrote in French. After practicing law unsuccessfully for several years, he went to Paris in 1897. He had already been touched by the influence of the symbolists and the mystical thought of Novalis and Emerson; his eventual 60-odd volumes can be read as a symbolist manifesto. Their suggestion of universal mystery, their insistence on ennui and impending doom affected the mood of a whole generation before World War I. Maeterlinck was awarded the 1911 Nobel Prize in Literature, but after 1920 his creative powers declined. His works include the short story “Le Massacre des innocents” (1886); the plays Les Aveugles (1891, tr. The Blind), Pelléas et Mélisande (1892), which inspired Debussy's opera (1902), Monna Vanna (1902), and L'Oiseau bleu (1909, tr. The Blue Bird), an allegorical fantasy for children that denies the reality of death; the essays La Vie des abeilles (1901, tr. The Life of the Bee) and L'Intelligence des fleurs (1907, tr. Life and Flowers); and poems.

See studies by A. Bailly (tr. 1974) and L. B. Konrad (1986).

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