Maurice Maeterlinck

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Date: 2003
Document Type: Biography
Length: 4,413 words

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About this Person
Born: August 29, 1862 in Ghent, Belgium
Died: May 07, 1949 in Nice, France
Nationality: Belgian
Other Names: Maeterlinck, Mauritius Polydorus Maria Bernardus; Maeterlinck, Maurice, Count; Bernardus, Mauritius Polydorus Maria
Updated:Aug. 22, 2003


Family: Born August 29, 1862, in Ghent, Belgium; died of a heart attack, May 6, 1949, in Nice, France; son of Polydore-Jacques- Marie-Bernard (a notary, landowner, and horticulturist) and Mathilde- Colette-Francoise (Van den Bossche) Maeterlinck; companion of Georgette Leblanc (an opera singer and actress), c. 1895-1918; married Renee Dahon (an actress), February 15, 1919. Education: University of Ghent, doctor of law and registered as barrister, both 1885. Memberships: Belgian Royal Academy.


Playwright, poet, short story writer, and essayist. Practiced law in Ghent, Belgium, 1886-89.


Triennial Prize for Dramatic Literature, Belgian Government, 1891 (Maeterlinck declined award), 1903, for Monna Vanna, and 1910, for The Blue Bird; Nobel Prize for Literature, 1911; Grand Officier, 1912, and Grand Croix, 1920, de l'Ordre de Leopold; named Count of the Kingdom of Belgium, 1932; elected to the French Academy, 1937; Medal of the French Language, 1948; honorary degrees from Glasgow University, 1919, University of Brussels, 1920, and Rollins Park College, 1941.




  • La Princesse Maleine (five-act), Vanmelle (Ghent, Belgium), 1889, translation by Richard Hovey published as The Princess Maleine, Dodd, 1913.
  • Les Aveugles (contains L'Intruse and Les Aveugles), P. Lacomblez (Brussels), 1890, translation by Mary Viele published as Blind [and] The Intruder, W. H. Morrison, 1891.
  • L'Intruse, produced in Paris at Theatre d'Art, 1892, published with Les Aveugles, P. Lacomblez, 1890, translation by Viele published as Blind [and] The Intruder, W. H. Morrison, 1891.
  • Les Sept Princesses, P. Lacomblez, 1891, translation by Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke published as The Seven Princesses in Poet Lore, 1894.
  • Pelleas et Melisande (five-act; produced at Theatre des Bouffes-Parisiens, 1893), P. Lacomblez, 1892, translation by Erving Winslow published as Pelleas and Melisande, Crowell, 1894.
  • Alladine et Palomides, Interieur, et La Mort de Tintagiles: Trois Petits Drames pour marionnettes, Deman (Brussels), 1894, translation by William Archer and Alfred Sutro published as Alladine and Palomides, Interior, [and] The Death of Tintagiles, Duckworth, 1899, published as Three Little Dramas: "Alladine and Palomides," "Interior," and "The Death of Tintagiles," Brentano's, 1915.
  • (Translator into French) John Ford, Annabella: 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (five-act), P. Ollendorff (Paris), 1895.
  • Aglavaine et Selysette (five-act), Mercure de France (Paris), 1896, translation by Sutro published as Aglavaine and Selysette, Grant Richards (London), 1897, Dodd, 1911.
  • Theatre (collection; includes Ardiane et Barbe-Bleue and Soeur Beatrice [also see below]), three volumes, Deman, 1901-02.
  • Ardiane et Barbe-Bleue, produced in Paris at Opera-Comique, 1907, published in Theatre, 1901-02, translated by Bernard Miall as Ardiane and Barbe-Bleue, 1901.
  • Soeur Beatrice, produced in Paris, 1915, published in Theatre, 1901-02, translated by Miall as Sister Beatrice, 1901.
  • Sister Beatrice [and] Ardiane and Barbe-Bleue (music by Paul Dukas), translation by Bernard Miall from the original French manuscripts, G. Allen (London), 1901, Dodd, 1902.
  • Monna Vanna (three-act; produced at Theatre de l'Oeuvre, 1902), E. Fasquelle (Paris), 1902, translation by A. I. Du Pont Coleman, Harper, 1903.
  • Joyzelle (five-act; produced in Paris at Theatre du Gymnase, 1903), E. Fasquelle, 1903, translation by Clarence Stratton published in Poet Lore, 1905.
  • Das Wunder des heiligen Antonius (two-act), translation by Friedrich von Oppeln-Bronikowski, E. Diederichs, 1904, translation by Ralph Roeder published as The Miracle of Saint Anthony, [New York], 1916, published in French as Le Miracle de Saint Antoine, Edouard-Joseph, 1919.
  • L'Oiseau bleu (six-act; produced in Moscow, 1908), E. Fasquelle, 1909, translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos published as The Blue Bird, Dodd, 1909.
  • (Translator into French) William Shakespeare, Macbeth (produced in 1909), Illustration (Paris), 1909.
  • Mary Magdalene (three-act; French version produced at Theatre du Chatelet, 1913), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, Dodd, 1910, published in French as Marie-Magdeleine, Charpentier et Fasquelle, 1913.
  • The Burgomaster of Stilemonde (three-act; produced in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1918), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, Dodd, 1918, published in French as Le Bourgmestre de Stilemonde Edouard-Joseph, 1919, published with Le Sel de la vie (two-act play; title means The Salt of the Earth), E. Fasquelle, 1920.
  • The Betrothal: A Sequel to "The Blue Bird" (five-act; produced in New York City at Shubert Theatre, 1918), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, Dodd, 1918, published in French as Les Fiancailles, E. Fasquelle, 1922, children's translation by Teixeira de Mattos published as The Blue Bird Chooses: Being the Story of Maurice Maeterlinck's Play "The Betrothal," Dodd, 1919, another children's translation by Teixeira de Mattos published as Tyltyl: Being the Story of Maurice Maeterlinck's Play "The Betrothal," illustrations by Herbert Paus, Dodd, 1920.
  • The Cloud That Lifted (three-act; translation of Le Malheur passe) [and] The Power of the Dead (four-act; translation of La Puissance des morts), translation by F. M. Atkinson, Century, 1923.
  • Le Malheur passe, A. Fayard (Paris), 1925.
  • La Puissance des morts, A. Fayard, 1926.
  • Marie-Victoire (four-act), A. Fayard, 1927.
  • Berniquel (published in Candide, 1926), Cahiers Libre (Paris), 1929.
  • Juda de Kerioth, A. Fayard, 1929.
  • La Princesse Isabelle (produced in Paris at Theatre de la Renaissance, 1935), E. Fasquelle, 1935.
  • Jeanne d'Arc, Editions du Rocher (Monaco), 1948.
  • Theatre inedit (collection; contains L'Abbe Setubal [two-act], Les Trois Justiciers, and Le Jugement dernier [three-act]), Del Duca (Paris), 1959.

Plays have been published in various combinations, in collections, in periodicals, and in many languages.


  • Serres chaudes (poems; title means Hothouses), L. Vanier (Paris), 1889, published with Quinze Chansons, Calmann-Levy (Paris), 1900.
  • (Translator into French) Jan van Ruysbroek, L'Ornement des noces spirituelles de Ruysbroek l'Admirable, P. Lacomblez, 1891, translation by Jane T. Stoddart published as Ruysbroek and the Mystics, Hodder & Stoughton, 1894.
  • (Translator into French) Novalis, Les Disciples a Sais et les Fragments de Novalis, P. Lacomblez, 1895.
  • Douze Chansons, (poems), P. V. Stock (Paris), 1896, translation by Martin Schuetze published as Twelve Songs, illustrations by Charles Doudelet, Ralph Fletcher Seymore Co., 1912, translation by Bernard Miall published as Poems, Dodd, 1915.
  • Le Tresor des humbles (essays), Societe du Mercure de France (Paris), 1896, 76th edition, 1912, translation by Alfred Sutro published as The Treasure of the Humble, Dodd, 1897, published as The Inner Beauty, Holt, 1911, translation by Montrose J. Moses published as On Emerson and Other Essays, Dodd, 1912.
  • La Sagesse et la destinee (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1898, translation by Sutro published as Wisdom and Destiny, Dodd, 1898.
  • La Vie des abeilles (essays; also see below), E. Fasquelle, 1901, translation by Sutro published as The Life of the Bee, Dodd, 1901, children's edition published as The Children's Life of the Bee, selected and arranged by Sutro and Herschel Williams, illustrations by Edward J. Detmold, Dodd, 1919.
  • Le Temple enseveli, (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1902, translation by Sutro published as The Buried Temple, Dodd, 1902.
  • Thoughts from Maeterlinck, chosen and arranged by Esther Stella Sutro, Dodd, 1903.
  • Le Double Jardin (essays; also see below), E. Fasquelle, 1904, translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos published as The Double Garden, Dodd, 1904.
  • Our Friend the Dog, illustrations by Paul J. Meylan, decorations by Charles B. Falls, Dodd, 1904, translation by Teixeira de Mattos published as My Dog, illustrations by G. Vernon Stokes, G. Allen, 1906.
  • Old Fashioned Flowers and Other Out-of-Door Studies (includes portions of The Double Garden), illustrations by Falls, Dodd, 1905.
  • The Swarm (excerpt from The Life of the Bee), Dodd, 1906.
  • Chrysanthemums and Other Essays (includes portions of The Double Garden), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, Dodd, 1907.
  • L'Intelligence des fleurs (essays; also see below), E. Fasquelle, 1907, translation by Teixeira de Mattos published as The Intelligence of Flowers, Dodd, 1907 (also published as The Measure of the Hours).
  • The Leaf of Olive (includes portions of The Double Garden), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, Dodd, 1908.
  • Morceaux choisis, introduction by Georgette Leblanc, Nelson (Paris), 1910.
  • Death (essays), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, Methuen, 1911, Dodd, 1912, published as Our Eternity, 1913, published in French as La Mort, E. Fasquelle, 1913.
  • Hours of Gladness (contains The Double Garden and The Intelligence of Flowers), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, illustrations by Detmold, Dodd, 1912.
  • News of Spring and Other Nature Studies (excerpts from The Double Garden and The Intelligence of Flowers), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, illustrations by Detmold, Dodd, 1913.
  • The Massacre of the Innocents (title in French is Le Massacre des innocents; also see below), translation by Alfred Allinson, Allen & Unwin, 1914.
  • The Unknown Guest (also see below), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, Dodd, 1914, published in French as L'Hote inconnu, E. Fasquelle, 1917.
  • Les Debris de la guerre (essays; also see below), E. Fasquelle, 1916, translation by Teixeira de Mattos published as The Wrack of the Storm, Dodd, 1916.
  • The Light Beyond (excerpts from The Unknown Guest and The Wrack of the Storm), translation by Teixeira de Mattos, Dodd, 1917.
  • Deux contes: Le Massacre des innocents, Onirologie (stories), G. Cres (Paris), 1918.
  • (With Cyriel Buysse and L. Dumont-Wilden) La Belgique en guerre: Album illustre, E. Van Hammee (Brussels), 1918, translation published as Belgium at War: Illustrated Album, 1918.
  • Les Sentiers dans la montagne (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1919, translation by Teixeira de Mattos published as Mountain Paths, Dodd, 1919.
  • Le Grand Secret (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1921, translation by Miall published as The Great Secret, Century, 1922.
  • Ancient Egypt, translation by A. Sutro, Allen & Unwin, 1925, published in French as En Egypte, Aux Horizons de France, 1928.
  • La Vie des termites (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1926, translation by A. Sutro published as The Life of the White Ant, Allen & Unwin, 1927.
  • En Sicile et en Calabre, S. Kra (Paris), 1927.
  • La Vie de l'espace (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1928, translation by Miall published as The Life of Space, Dodd, 1928.
  • La Grande Feerie: Immensite de l'univers, notre terre, influences siderales, E. Fasquelle, 1929, translation by A. Sutro published as The Magic of the Stars, Dodd, 1930.
  • La Vie des fourmis (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1930, translation by Miall published as The Life of the Ant, John Day, 1930.
  • L'Araignee de verre (contains The Water Spider, Sicelides musae, and The Kingdom of the Dead), E. Fasquelle, 1932, translation by Miall published in Pigeons and Spiders (The Water Spider) (includes The Life of the Pigeon), Allen & Unwin, 1934, Norton, 1936.
  • La Grande Loi (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1933, translation by K. S. Shelvankar published as The Supreme Law, Dutton, 1935.
  • Avant le grand silence, E. Fasquelle, 1934, translation by Miall published as Before the Great Silence, Allen & Unwin, 1935.
  • Le Sablier, E. Fasquelle, 1936, translation by Miall published as The Hour-Glass, Frederick A. Stokes, 1936.
  • L'Ombre des ailes (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1936.
  • Devant Dieu (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1937.
  • La Grande Porte (essays), E. Fasquelle, 1939.
  • L'Autre Monde; ou, Le Cadran stellaire, Maison Francaise (New York), 1942, translation by Marta K. Neufeld and Renee Spodhem published as The Great Beyond, Philosophical Library, 1947.
  • Bulles bleues: Souvenirs heureux, Editions du Rocher, 1948.
  • (With Others) What is Civilization?, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1968.
  • The Plays of Maurice Maeterlinck: Second Series, translated by Richard Hovey, Core Collection Books (Great Neck, NY), 1977.

Also author of Le Mystere de la justice, 1900. Author of numerous prefaces to other books. Works have been published in various combinations; in collections, including Insectes et fleurs, 1954; in periodicals; and in many languages.


The Blue Bird has been adapted into books for children, including The Children's Blue Bird, by Georgette Leblanc, translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, illustrated by Herbert Paus, Dodd, 1913; and The Bluebird for Children: The Wonderful Adventures of Tyltyl and Mytyl in Search of Happiness, by Leblanc, edited and arranged for schools by Frederick Orville Perkins, translated by Teixeira de Mattos, Silver, Burdett & Co., 1913. The Blue Bird also has been adapted as motion pictures of the same title, including a silent film, Paramount, 1918; a movie starring Shirley Temple, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1940; a film featuring Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Fonda, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1976; and an animated cartoon. Some of Maeterlinck's plays have been adapted as sound recordings.


Born in Ghent, Belgium, in 1862, Maeterlinck descended from a prosperous Flemish family whose name dated back to the fourteenth century. In Flemish, Maeterlinck means "the measurer," in honor of an ancestor who during a famine in 1395 measured out a few ladles of grain to each citizen in his town. Maeterlinck was adventurous and active as a boy, frequently engaging in vigorous physical exercise. Though generally content while growing up, the author often recounted feeling like "the black sheep" in his conservative, Catholic family, and he once stated that his parents never finished reading any work he wrote.

Maeterlinck began his formal education at a primary school run by local nuns. After the age of seven, though, boys were no longer welcome at the school, for the nuns wished to educate only girls of upper-class families. Maeterlinck subsequently was taught at home by a succession of tutors from England and Germany, and he learned to speak several languages. His father later sent him to the highly reputed Jesuit College de Sainte-Barbe, where two Nobel Prize nominees in literature had been educated. There Maeterlinck became close friends with aspiring writers Gregoire Le Roy and Charles Van Lerberghe. The three formed a literary trio, inspiring and encouraging each other and critiquing each other's writings. Maeterlinck's first literary endeavors exhibited themes of medievalism, a preoccupation with death, and a yearning to escape reality, motifs that would dominate his writing career.

One of Maeterlinck's early poems appeared in the November, 1883, issue of the periodical Jeune Belgique. His second submission of poetry, however, met with harsh rejection. A letter from the magazine's editor, according to W. D. Halls in Maurice Maeterlinck: A Study of His Life and Thought, read: "M. Maeter.--bad, your verses to your friend Charles V[an] L[erberghe], supremely bad."

Maeterlinck's parents strongly disapproved of their son's devoting himself full-time to poetry, and they sent him to law school. On the pretext of preparing for the French bar exam, he convinced his father to support him for a year in Paris. Maeterlinck spent virtually all of his time writing. In addition, he and his friends Le Roy and Van Lerberghe spent much time associating with the symbolists, a group of artists who abandoned realism and instead used symbols to convey their concern with the puzzle of human existence and destiny.

Maeterlinck was described by a fellow poet in the mid-1880s as "beardless, with short hair, protruding forehead, clear, distinct eyes, with a straightforward gaze, his face harshly set, the whole denoting will- power, decision, stubbornness, a real Flemish face, with undertones of reverie and colourful sensibility," the description was quoted by Halls. "At heart a taciturn person, who is very reserved, but whose friendship must be reliable." In Paris, Maeterlinck's nickname was "le taiseux," which means "the silent one."

Despite literary distractions, Maeterlinck earned his law degree. In 1886 he returned to Ghent and began, halfheartedly, to practice litigation. He found the job especially distasteful, and he later admitted that courtroom procedures were so traumatic that all his life he retained a dread of public speaking. He divided his time between Ghent and his family's country home in Oostacker, Belgium, where he wrote, gardened, cycled, rowed, and kept bees. His poems written during this period were published in anthologies and quarterlies.

In 1888, with money from his family and help from several friends, Maeterlinck published a poetry collection, Serres chaudes (title means "Hothouses"). He and his friends produced the book themselves on a small hand machine, working at night because the borrowed type machine was needed in the print shop during the day. Though the volume resulted neither in income nor critical notice, Serres chaudes is nonetheless significant. Death-obsessed, the poems are full of spiritual angst and bleak imagery. In a letter to poet Emile Verhaeren, Maeterlinck, as quoted by Halls, wrote: "I think that illness, sleep, and death are feasts of the flesh, profound, mysterious, and not understood; I think there is much to seek and find in this domain . . . and that the hospital is perhaps the temple of Isis."

In 1889 Maeterlinck wrote his first play, La Princesse Maleine (The Princess Maleine), which would catapult him to international fame. After its publication in a Belgian literary review, Maeterlinck sent a copy to the pioneering symbolist poet Stephan Mallarm in Paris. Mallarm was so impressed that he sent the play to the influential French dramatist and critic Octave Mirbeau. "Maeterlinck," according to Mirbeau as quoted by Halls, "has written a masterpiece, . . . an admirable and pure and eternal masterpiece, a masterpiece that suffices to render a name immortal and to cause that name to be blessed by all those that hunger after the beautiful and the great; a masterpiece such as honourable, tormented artists have sometimes dreamed, in moments of enthusiasm, of writing, and as they have never written hitherto. In short, . . . Maeterlinck has given us the work of this age most full of genius, and the most extraordinary and most simple as well, comparable and--shall I dare say it?--superior in beauty to what is most beautiful in Shakespeare."

From 1890 to 1900 Maeterlinck produced a succession of major plays; among the more well-known are L'Intruse (The Intruder), Les Aveugles (Blind), and Pelleas et Melisande (Pelleas and Melisande), the latter of which is often considered his masterpiece. He also created three plays designed to be acted by marionettes. Liberally employing ritual, myth, and dreamlike imagery in his plays, Maeterlinck made extensive use of symbols. According to Bettina Knapp in Maurice Maeterlinck, "symbols are the chief vehicles used in his dramas to arouse sensation, to breathe life into the ephemeral essences which people Maeterlinck's stage."

Maeterlinck quickly earned a reputation for shunning conventionality, and a Fortnightly Review writer commented in 1897: "Maeterlinck aspires after nothing less than a complete reconstruction of the modern drama. . . . He hopes to see life in its material manifestations strictly subordinated to its spiritual sub-consciousness. Plot and action are to be relegated to an entirely secondary position, the stage is to be swept clear of cheap trickery and superficial effects, and the eternal mystery of life is to rise up in an almost palpable sense before the spectator."

During an interview with Jane T. Stoddart, published in an 1895 issue of the Bookman, Maeterlinck was asked to explain his interest in mysticism. He responded: "I think . . . that we are living in one of the ages when the human soul awakes. There are such times, and they are to me the only really interesting periods of history. A new inspiration, a new activity becomes felt, not in one country, but all over the world. The ancient Egyptians had such awakenings; the mystics of the fourteenth century had their part in another and not less marvelous revival. In dull and self-conscious times the soul seems small, poor, and limited, but in the great ages of mysticism its powers and its resources are felt to be inexhaustible. Truths after which humanity was dimly groping are expressed by the mystics with unerring certainty."

While the decade before the turn of the century established Maeterlinck as a relatively brooding and pessimistic figure, the dramatist had made some positive changes in his life that lightened his outlook. In the mid-1890s he met and fell in love with opera singer Georgette Leblanc, who would be his close companion for the next two decades. Also, in 1897 Maeterlinck left Belgium, where he had been living discontentedly with his parents, to reside permanently in France.

In France Maeterlinck continued to write plays as well as acclaimed works of nonfiction. One of his most important books is La Vie des abeilles (The Life of the Bee), published in 1901. The highly structured society of the bee, in which each member has a well-defined role and works in close cooperation with his fellows, represented an ideal to Maeterlinck. Katharine De Forest in Harper's Bazaar wrote of her visit to the author shortly before the publication of The Life of the Bee. "The proof-sheets . . . lay scattered over his work table. . . . Maeterlinck's study with its light, its austerity, its simple tones, seems a place for clear, lofty thought. The exquisite neatness of a Dutch interior reigns there. . . . Just outside the window Maeterlinck places his beehive, made with glass sides, where he watches . . . that marvelous world from which he has drawn his latest book, reflections of such a lofty philosophy that one volume alone would reveal him one of the greatest minds of this earth.

"No one could know, without talking with its author," De Forest continued, "what endless detail of observation, for one thing, the book has involved. `I knew that bees could communicate with each other,' Maeterlinck said to me. `I knew that one bee could say to another, "In such and such a place I have found honey. Come with me and I will take you there." But what I wanted to find out was whether one bee could relate a connected story to another, could say, "In such and such a place there is honey; to reach it you must first go to the right, then the left, then go along the corridor.^" Eh bien! I have found two or three bees who could do that!'" Additional works presenting Maeterlinck's fascination with nature, science, and extreme discipline include La Vie de l'espace (The Life of Space) and La Vie des fourmis (The Life of the Ant).

As his career progressed, Maeterlinck steadily turned away from the somberness prominent in his early works and produced plays rooted in realism and more hopeful topics. Such dramas include the popular Monna Vanna, produced in 1902. And, at the height of his optimism, Maeterlinck wrote The Blue Bird, his 1909 play that, while reverting to his early fixation with dreams and mysticism, expresses quite cheerful themes. Considered one of Maeterlinck's finest artistic and commercial achievements, The Blue Bird centers on the dream of two poor children, Tyltyl and Mytyl. One night, after they are put to bed, a fairy visits their room. Named Berylune, the fairy resembles the children's neighbor, Berlingnot, whose daughter is quite ill. Beseeching the children to go out the window to find the Blue Bird for her daughter who longs to be happy, Berylune gives them a hat adorned with a diamond. When Tyltyl puts on the hat and turns the diamond, everything in the room glows with beauty. The children begin their search, discovering such joyful places as the Land of Memory, the Garden of Happiness, and the Kingdom of the Future. Though they fail to find the Blue Bird by journey's end, they awake from their dream the next morning to find their surroundings appear more bright and cheerful. Tyltyl discovers his pet turtledove has turned blue during the night; he gives the bird to Berlingnot's daughter, who is so happy her illness seems to disappear. The bird escapes, though, and Tyltyl turns to ask the audience for their help in finding the Blue Bird.

Conveying the message that happiness is always within one's reach, The Blue Bird was hugely successful. It has been adapted as the book The Children's Blue Bird as well as two Twentieth Century-Fox films, one in 1940 starring Shirley Temple, the other in 1976 starring Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Fonda. Maeterlinck wrote the play's sequel, Les Fiancailles (The Betrothal), several years later.

The playwright earned the Nobel Prize in 1911, though several years before he had begun suffering from depression, poor eyesight, and lack of inspiration. His plays published after World War I are generally considered inferior to previous works. In addition, some of his later writings returned to a preoccupation with death. Maeterlinck moved to the United States in 1940 but, experiencing deteriorating health, moved back to France seven years later. Maeterlinck lived his last years in virtual seclusion with his wife, Renee Dahon, in their villa near Nice, on the French Riviera. He did practically no writing, devoting his time to rigorous study of science, gardening, beekeeping, long walks and bicycle rides, lavish meals, and other domestic pleasures.

Despite his failing physical condition and diminished success, Maeterlinck's last book, Bulles bleues: Souvenirs heureux (subtitle means "Happy Memories"), is decidedly upbeat, speaking fondly of his youth and zest for living. The author is generally remembered for his fascination with life's mysteries and his intense interest in the wonders of science. "There are so many things of which we still know nothing!," Maeterlinck told Juan Jose de Soiza Reilly in Living Age. "Little by little, however, science is changing our idea of the Universe. Everything that happens in the infinitely great is identical with what happens in the infinitely small. Astronomers have become chemists and physicists. Chemists and physicists are to-day the astronomers of the molecule. It is they who are proving that there is an eternal, omniscient being in the cosmos, that there is a God. What difference does it make what we call Him? The important thing is that God is the Universe--space and time without limit-- eternity.

"Are there other worlds more perfect than our own?," Maeterlinck continued. "Possibly, but they should not frighten us. We should seek to improve our own world until it is the equal of the others. I am almost certain that we are being observed from other planets and perhaps they are listening to us, too. We transmit ideas and feelings to each other by wireless through the ether and since the ether is exactly the same in any part of the cosmos, why can't there be communication between different worlds? Every time we think or feel, we set molecules in motion, and these molecules give off waves and electrons which travel for great distances through the ether. The study of light has taught us that space is no obstacle to its waves. And as far as death is concerned, there is no such thing! No! Nothingness does not follow after death. Science affirms that nothing dies. There is nothing mortal in the Universe."




Brucher, Roger, Maurice Maeterlinck: L'Oeuvre et son audience, Palais des Academies (Brussels), 1972.

Halls, W. D., Maurice Maeterlinck: A Study of His Life and Thought, Greenwood Press, 1978.

Hind, C. Lewis, Authors and I, Books for Libraries Press, 1921.

Knapp, Bettina, Maurice Maeterlinck, G. K. Hall, 1975.

Konrad, Linn Bratteteig, Modern Drama as Crisis: The Case of Maurice Maeterlinck, Peter Lang, 1986.

Lambert, Carole J., The Empty Cross: Medieval Hopes, Modern Futility in the Theater of Maurice Maeterlinck, Paul Claudel, August Strindberg, and Georg Kaiser, Garland Pub. (New York, NY), 1990.

Leblanc, Georgette, Souvenirs: My Life with Maeterlinck, translated by Janet Flanner, Dutton, 1932.

Mahony, Patrick, Maurice Maeterlinck, Mystic and Dramatist: A Reminiscent Biography of the Man and His Ideas, Institute for the Study of Man (Washington, DC), 1984.

Reference Guide to World Literature, second edition, St. James Press, 1995.

Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Volume 3, Gale, 1980, pp. 316-33.


Baum Bugle, autumn, 1990.

Bookman, May, 1895, p. 247; August/September, 1895-February, 1896.

Fortnightly Review, July-December 1897, p. 184.

Harper's Bazaar, May, 1901, pp. 49-50.

Harper's Weekly, July 5, 1902.

Ladies' Home Journal, April, 1930.

Living Age, October 16, 1897; December 24, 1910; September, 1929- February, 1930, p. 155.

Outlook, September-December, 1901.

Review of Reviews, February, 1930.*

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000063027