Maeterlinck, the Myth-Maker? on the Relationship of L’Oiseau Bleu to Other Versions of the Motif

This paper deals with Maurice Maeterlinck’s L’Oiseau Bleu and the question of its adaptability. The play has a history of big-budget adaptations encompassing seven decades; yet, no major film version has been successful, either commercially or critically. This essay offers a hypothesis for the continuing fascination of generations of directors in face of such a solid history of inability to reach either spectators or critics. It points out that the play’s popularity is both controversial and insufficient to account for this, and so is its seeming canonicity. Likewise, it argues against Andrea S. Thomas’ (2009) claim that the play has become an apparently authorless myth (422) through its history of multiple adaptations, and instead offers the alternative explanation, relying on Joseph Campbell’s (1949) theory of the monomyth, that the play has been a pastiche-like and authorless myth even at the very beginning, and this is the very reason it has such an impressive record of adaptations.

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