Jareed's Reviews > The Inner Beauty

The Inner Beauty by Maurice Maeterlinck
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Nothing in the whole world is so athirst for beauty as the soul, nor is there anything to which beauty clings so readily. (5)

This has been a particularly hard piece to read, and by a necessary consequence, to write a review of. Maurice Maeterlicnk is, before anything else, a Nobel laureate (1911) who earned the coveted award for his plays which form a substantial part of the Symbolism Movement. Adherents believed that absolute truths could only be described indirectly, which necessitates a style of writing punctuated by metaphorical and suggestive prose. This is now our caveat by which we seek to assuage any difficulty in tackling this work.

The work is divided in three parts, Inner Beauty, Invisible Goodness, and Silence. This is a spiritual and ruminative work in all its aspects.

"Beauty is the only language of our soul: none other is known to it." (10)

Beauty is of course acts that we could generally and objectively categorize as good in man. Maeterlinck states that every man, even the unhappiest and the most destitute have at the depths of their being, this beauty that he speaks of. This necessarily lays down the premise that men by nature are good, or, in Maeterlinck's words, are naturally beautiful beings, who need only to acquire the habit of dipping into that nature, into that soul, and the greatest act by which we enliven this beauty is by loving.

Is it not in love that are found the purest elements of beauty that we can offer to the soul? (19)

To him, to love means losing every bit of 'ugliness' in our souls. It is the state by which we come closest to God. But to be good, to be able to love with real ardent affection, we must first go through suffering, a harrowing by which we are molded to become better and end up in tune with our soul, our inner beauty. "Grief is love's first food, and every love that has not been fed on a little pure suffering must die like the babe that one had tried to nourish on the nourishment of a man." (20)

And there would always remain between us truth which had not spoken, which we had not even thought of speaking... and only in silence could we perceive it.

And he counsels the reader to search for these intermittent pockets of silences in life which holds the 'real' secrets and calls them 'secret silences'.

One has to forgive my limited and modest uptake of Maeterlinck's philosophy as contained in this work. Admittedly, this is only one way to look and deconstruct this highly suggestive and metaphorical work. It bears mentioning that nowhere was beauty explicitly defined within the work except from derivable contextual references, and even then it was questionable and equivocal. The work, however clearly references to spirituality and to God, to a human soul, but not religion. The chapter on Invisible Goodness clearly refers back to the Soul and its nature of goodness and nobility. The silence he refers to is also curious as he does not clarify as to whether he refers to spiritual silences or a physical world of a noiseless condition. Indeed he says that:

There is no silence more docile than the silence of love, and indeed it is the only one that we may claim for ourselves alone. The other great silences, those of death, grief or destiny, do not belong to us. They come towards their own hour, following in the track of events, and those whom they do not meet need not reproach themselves. But we can all go forth and meet the silence of love.

But then again he writes,

If I tell someone that I love him - as I may have told a hundred others - my words will convey nothing to him, but the silence that will ensue will make it clear.





This book forms part of my remarkably extensive reading list on Nobel Prize for Literature Laureates

This review, along with my other reviews, has been cross-posted at imbookedindefinitely
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Reading Progress

July 3, 2014 – Started Reading
July 3, 2014 – Shelved
July 3, 2014 – Shelved as: classics
July 3, 2014 – Shelved as: written-by-nobel-laureates
July 3, 2014 –
page 29
"A challenging read so far."
July 5, 2014 –
page 38
July 5, 2014 – Finished Reading
July 6, 2014 – Shelved as: philosophical-history-of-philosophy
July 9, 2014 – Shelved as: short-stories-anthologies-collectio

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Praj (new)

Praj Such profound quotes! Thank you Jareed, for this beautiful piece of writing. I'm glad to see you back on your Nobel Laureate sojourn and hope that the University is treating you well. Keep posting such wondrous reviews.


message 2: by Garima (new)

Garima Another book which seems to be quite buried so thanks for bringing it to our notice through such an exceptional review, Jareed.


message 3: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro Wonderful review with its own inner beauty on it!

Good work, Jareed!


Jareed Praj wrote: "Such profound quotes! Thank you Jareed, for this beautiful piece of writing. I'm glad to see you back on your Nobel Laureate sojourn and hope that the University is treating you well. Keep posting ..."

Such words from a reviewer like you Praj is worth gold! Thank you!


Jareed Garima wrote: "Another book which seems to be quite buried so thanks for bringing it to our notice through such an exceptional review, Jareed."

It really is lost in obscurity Garima, along with most of Maeterlinck's work that has not been translated, sadly, to english.


Jareed Alejandro wrote: "Wonderful review with its own inner beauty on it!

Good work, Jareed!"


You are too kind Alejandro, thank you very much!


message 7: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl "To him, to love means losing every bit of 'ugliness' in our souls. It is the closest state by which we come closest to God."

Profound--especially the last quote as well. I'm enjoying the education on Nobel Laureates and their art, Jareed. This was an eloquent annotation of Maeterlinck's work. Thank you!


Jareed Cheryl wrote: ""To him, to love means losing every bit of 'ugliness' in our souls. It is the closest state by which we come closest to God."

Profound--especially the last quote as well. I'm enjoying the educatio..."


Your kind comments are always welcome Cheryl. Thank you for reading this.


message 9: by Henry (new)

Henry Martin You've done it again, Jareed. A great review, amazing quotes, and, even better, a relatively unknown book.


Jareed Henry wrote: "You've done it again, Jareed. A great review, amazing quotes, and, even better, a relatively unknown book."

Henry, thank you very much, you are so kind with those comments!


message 11: by Dolors (new)

Dolors Wonderful selection of quotes that brings Maeterlinck's philosphy and his quest to channel doubt through the artistic expression to life. Inspiring piece of writing Jareed, thanks for bringing this writer to my attention.


message 12: by Jareed (last edited Jul 07, 2014 12:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jareed Dolors wrote: "Wonderful selection of quotes that brings Maeterlinck's philosphy and his quest to channel doubt through the artistic expression to life. Inspiring piece of writing Jareed, thanks for bringing this..."

It is to my great pleasure that you have found this to your liking Dolors! Thank you in taking the time to read this.


message 13: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Singh Lovely review, Jareed. I particularly appreciate the clarity of your writing. Thanks for bringing this book to my notice.


Jareed Nidhi wrote: "Lovely review, Jareed. I particularly appreciate the clarity of your writing. Thanks for bringing this book to my notice."

That mean a lot coming from someone as eloquent as you Nidhi! Thank you!


Jareed Lada wrote: "eceedingly good review. The novel has escaped me so far but it is so good. An inner artistic quality about it"

Thank you Lada, yes, it has some unique beauty in it!


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