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Pelleas and Melisande
ISBN 1589633547 / 9781589633544 / 1-58963-354-7
Publisher Fredonia Books (NL)
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Instead of writing another "Les Sept Princess" Maeterlinck wrote "Pelleas and Melisande," which appeared in 1892, when he was thirty.
Old Arkel is "King of Allemande." Golaud and Pelleas are his grandsons, and Genevieve their mother. Yniold is the son of Golaud by a former marriage. Melisande is a princess of a strange land. There is a castle, a park, and a forest by the sea. Golaud is lost in the forest while following the wild boar, and finds the beautiful, timid Melisande sobbing beside a fountain. He takes her home, half-willing, and marries her. But upon meeting the younger brother, Pelleas, she is sad, and would not have him go away from the castle. Melisande used to meet Pelleas beside the fountain and Yniol notes that they cry together in the dark.
In Pélléas et Mélisande we are made to experience a brooding sense. Mélisande, fearing, trembles over something stronger than herself. Necessity becomes one of the elements that help to form life and to shape destiny. In that castle of dark sunshine, tangibleness of feeling is lost in the strange terrifying of presentiment. The sage is given to weigh the justice of events; in the midst of lifting gloom there always lurks the shadow of unlooked for consequences.
The light of day appears to frighten souls; does not Medicine whisper to Pelleas: "I feel nearer to you in the dark"? Unrelenting seems that fate which makes death stalk ever close to the young, in preference to the old. Pélléas believes that "those who love are always sad." In this world where there is so much we shall never know, there are many, like Mélisande, who are born, as the doctor says, "by chance to die," and in the end "she dies by chance."
Pélléas et Mélisande is part of a dramatic theory which was practiced before it was preached; it involved a scene, saturated with the vapor of something always impending; the flesh melted into the essence of the presence felt, rather than of the presence seen. [via]