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Bluebeard in Crisis

Bluebeard in Crisis

(p.129) Chapter 8 Bluebeard in Crisis
Casie E. Hermansson
University Press of Mississippi

A number of pantomime renditions of Charles Perrault’s French fairy tale, “Bluebeard,” appeared at the advent of the twentieth century, including the Klaw and Erlanger burlesque Mr. Bluebeard (Solomon [ca.1903]). In addition, a slew of notable Bluebeard works that all problematize and challenge the traditional expressions of the Bluebeard story emerged. Georges Méliès’ film Barbe-bleue (1901); Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Ariadne et Barbe-bleue (Ariadne and Bluebeard 1901), an opera composed by Paul Dukas (1907); Béla Balázs’ psychological drama A kékszakállú herceg vára (Duke Bluebeard’s Castle 1907), an opera by Béla Bartók (1912); and Anatole France’s story “Les Sept Femmes de la Barbe Bleue” (“The Seven Wives of Bluebeard,” 1909). This chapter examines these works and their impact on the English modernist expression of the Bluebeard tale. In particular, it considers how the English and American modernists, including Sylvia Townsend Warner and Eudora Welty, and Hollywood films responded to them. The chapter also looks at the revival of interest in Gilles de Rais in the late nineteenth century, and how it led to the humanization of Bluebeard.

Keywords:   Charles Perrault, fairy tale, Bluebeard, Maurice Maeterlinck, opera, drama, Béla Bartók, Anatole France, Gilles de Rais

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