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January 10 , 2010

The Blue Bird for Children: the Wonderful Adventures of Tyltyl and Mytyl in Search of Happiness


This School Edition of The Blue Bird for Children is affectionately dedicated to the School Children of America To The Teacher "The Blue Bird, inhabitant of the Pays Bleu, the fabulous blue country of our dreams is an ancient symbol in the folk lore of Lorraine and stands for happiness." Amidst his Belgian roses he continued to work and dream, and upon his youthful dreams he built his plays. They are all shadowy, brief transcripts of emotion, and illustrate beautifully his unity of purpose, of mood and of thought. Whether in philosophy, drama or poetry, Maeterlinck is exclusively occupied in revealing or indicating the mystery which lies only just out of sight beneath the ordinary life. In order to produce this effect of the mysterious he aims at extreme simplicity of style and a very realistic symbolism. He allows life itself to astonish us by its strangeness, by its inexplicable elements. Many of his plays are really pathetic records of unseen emotions. Of all his writings, it is conceded that "The Blue Bird" makes the strongest appeal to children. Maeterlinck has always had much in common with the young. He has the child's mysticism and awe of the unknown, the same delight in mechanical inventions, the same gift of "making believe." In "The Blue Bird" Maeterlinck takes little account of external fact. All along he has kept the child's capacity for wonder; all along he has preserved youth's freshness of heart. He has, therefore, never lost the key which unlocks the sympathies of childhood; he still possesses the passport that makes him free of the kingdom of Fairyland. This story of "The Blue Bird" may remind one somewhat of "Hansel and Gretel," for here Maeterlinck, like Grimm, shows to us the adventures of two peasant children as they pass through regions of enchantment where they would be at the mercy of treacherous foes, but for the aid of a supernatural friend. But the originality, the charm and the interest of "The Blue Bird" depend on the way in which the author, while adapting his language and his legends to the intelligence of youthful readers, manages to show them the wonders and romance of Nature. He enlists among his characters a whole series of inanimate objects, such as Bread, Sugar, Milk, Light, Water, Fire and Trees, besides the Cat, the Dog and Other animals, investing them all with individuality,—making for instance, with characteristic bias, the Dog the faithful friend of his boy and girl companions and the Cat their stealthy enemy
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