These gems in the history of French fin de siècle theatre concern man’s conflict with preternatural forces against which he is powerless, foreshadowing the subject-matter, if not the style, of the Theatre of the absurd. This is a disquieting theatre reflecting the playwright’s theory of drama, as developed in “Le Tragique quotidien / It-Traġiku fil-Ħajja ta’ Kuljum / The Tragical in Daily Life”, published in his book of philosophical essays, Le Trésor des humbles / It-Teżor tal-Umli /The Treasure of the Humble (1896).
Maeterlinck managed to embody the mystery, which he found everywhere around us and within us, in these plays. To quote from the citation accompanying the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1911, the distinctive quality of Maeterlinck’s symbolist drama was “their richness of imagination and poetic realism”. It displays a deep intimacy of feeling, and also appeals to the readers’ sentiments and sense of foreboding.