Biography of Maurice Polydore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck (1862-1949)

Poet, playwright and essayist Belgian of French language, born in Ghent on August 20, 1862 and died in Grasse (in the Alpes-Maritimes) on May 5, 1949. Author of a varied and extensive literary production which progressed by very different genres, mainly excelled by his poems, comedies and Symbolist dramas, characterized by a surreal atmosphere in which human beings are directly faced with an inevitable fate, as well as a philosophical and scientific trials that left captured his anti-confessional vision of existence. In 1911, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, "in recognition of its multi-faceted literary activities, and especially his dramatic pieces, which are distinguished by their rich imagination and poetic fantasy, and reveal - sometimes in the manner of a magic story - a deep inspiration, always in a mysterious way to call the reader's attentionappealing to their feelings and stimulating their imagination".

Dump from his early youth towards the study of humanistic knowledge and the cultivation of literary creation, he received from child careful academic training at the College of Sainte Barbe in Ghent, run by the Jesuits, famous institution in whole Belgium for its rigour and severity. Where other young students who were called to become leading figures in the literature (such as the poet and critic Émile Verhaeren and the poet and playwright Georges Rodenbach) Belgian, had also educated there, had the opportunity to share classrooms with future fellow career literary, as Charles Van Lerberghe and g. Le Roy. Subsequently, the young Maurice Maeterlinck studied higher laws and, once licensed, began to practice law.

In 1886, driven by its strong literary vocation, he left his native country and settled in Paris, where, at the time who continued to work as a lawyer, he began to write verses and to relate the main literary groups that proliferated in the French capital. He got in touch, as well, with many Symbolist poets who attracted him towards their esthetic cause and allowed him to publish his first writings in its most prominent organ of expression, the famous magazine La Pléiade. So things, Maeterlinck finally abandoned their dedication to the legal profession to devote itself fully to literary creation.

In 1889 to the printing press gave its first volume of verses, entitled Les serres chaudes (hot greenhouses), a poetry book fully framed in the Symbolist current. That same year pleasantly surprised critics, audience and readers with the premiere of the theatrical piece La princesse Maleine (La Princess Maleine, 1889), a bright and splendid fantasy drama in which managed to capture, making a rare in a novel author scenic domain gala, a melancholy sense of the mystery and the fatality as well as a conception of the characters as passive victims of alien forces. The success of this first theatrical venture of Maurice Maeterlinck, enhanced by the disproportionate praise of the poet and playwright Gallic Octave Mirbeau (which had to be compared with the young writer of Ghent with William Shakespeare), became you hit one of the most known and respected of the European scene of the time.

Consecrated, because, as the great playwright in French at the end of the 19th century, Maeterlinck grew prolifically its theatrical corpus with other titles as relevant as L'intruse (the intruder, 1890), Les aveugles (the blind, 1891), Les sept princesses (the seven princesses, 1891) and, above all, Pelléas et Mélisande (1892), one of his masterpieces, which inspired two musical scores to Debussy and Fauré. It's a Symbolist tragedy in which Maeterlinck returned to deal with the favorite themes of his dramatic output of that era: the mystery of life and the melancholy of the soul. Two years after the premiere of Pelléas et Mélisande, returned to the French stage with theatrical work entitled Aglavaine et Sélysette (Aglavena and Seliseta, 1894).

The year 1986 was especially relevant in the literary career of poet, playwright and essayist Belgian, since during this period the printing press gave two new books that established him as one of the most important growers of other two literary genres for which, together with the theatre, would go down in history. Indeed, on the one hand it recovered its lyric vein and published a second book of poems, under the title of Douze chansons (twelve songs, 1896), was expanded in a later issue, then presented as Quinze chansons (fifteen songs, 1900); and, on the other hand, came to be known as essayist thanks to the publication of Le trésor des humbles (the treasure of the humble, 1896), which kicked off an extensive and fruitful collection of philosophical and scientific trials in which Maeterlinck was revealed to be a thinker who fully into the materialistic postulates, without rejecting any confessional explanation of man and nature. Online generic and thematic, his other writings of great interest such as the titled appeared after La sagesse et Destinée (wisdom and destiny, 1898) and La vie des abeilles (the life of the bees, 1901), that followed, more than one quarter of a century later, La vie des termites (the life of termites, 1927) and La vie des fourmis (the life of ants1930). In general, all of these factual works on the life of insects, based on a rigorous scientific observation, served you as a reference speculative about the enigma of life. Maeterlinck was revealed, through these texts, as a philosopher, clearly influenced by the thought of the Flemish Mystic Jan Van Ruysbroeck (1293-1381), as well as more modern ideas of the German poet Novalis (1772-1801), British historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), and the philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American. Other trials arising from his pen, as graduates of the intelligence of the flowers (1907), death (1913), and the great secret (1921), confirm the evolution of his thinking from strict Catholicism which the Jesuits taught you to sort of mystical Pantheism which is mostly present in their famous lives of insects.

Despite this fertile dedication to the essay genre, Maurice Maeterlinck did not abandon the crop of dramatic genre, which had brought new construction through its previous comedies and tragedies Symbolist techniques. Until then, its sad and emaciated theatrical characters moved on a few unrealistic scenarios such as puppet subject to an inexorable fate, in a clear allegorical vision useless efforts with which the man tries to break out of hidden and remote wires that govern his life. Exceptionally gifted, for the sober simplicity of his literary style, for the cultivation of the tragedy, Maeterlinck wrapped his first dramas in an atmosphere of nightmare and mystery, full of shadows and dreamlike hallucinations that accentuated the existential conflict of its protagonists. But following the reading of the authors cited in the previous paragraph (Ruysbroeck, Novalis, Carlyle and Emerson), theatrical production experienced a turn that approached it his essayistic reflections ideological approaches. Abandoned, then the radical pessimism which, until then, had been taken to the scene, to accommodate in his works a moderate optimism that, based on the discovery of more encouraging values, admitted the value of the human personality and gave way to the possibility - within certain limits-that the individual achieve to forge their own destiny. It became patent in another of his masterpieces, the theatrical fable entitled l'oiseau bleu (the Blue Bird, 1909), a beautiful, exquisite and delicate dramatization of a fairy tale that aims to demonstrate the possibility of finding happiness when only seeks within the heart. The importance that, for that time, had already reached Maeterlinck as dramatic author, gives good idea the fact that the staging of the Blue Bird would be in charge of the Russian grandmaster Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavskitheatre direction.

Author of other works such as Mona Vanna (1902) and the great silence (1934), Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck significantly influenced the theatrical production of some of the large European playwrights of the early years of the 20th century, as the Spaniards Ramón María del Valle-Inclánand Jacinto Benavente , Adrià Gual. In addition, his essay thinking left a remarkable posed in some Spanish writers of the generation of 98, as José Martínez Ruiz ("Azorín").

Honours and literary awards that rained it after Nobel Prize, joined the civic awards granted by Belgian and French Governments after the first world war, in which Maeterlinck had been distinguished for their services to the allies; and, in 1932, received the nobiliary title of count from the hands of King Leopold I of Belgium Alberto. Shortly after declaring the second world war, the Belgian poet emigrated to the United States of America, where he returned, after strife, to die in France that had given him haven during their lifetime.

See Theatre: history.

J. R. Fernández Cano

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