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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Out & About in Gent

Klein Begijnhof
We did a little sightseeing today in the frigidness. Walked to the Small Beguinage, which was somewhat farther than it looked. Once a place where widows and spinsters who were not devout enough for the convent lived, it's now part convent, part regular housing. Very peaceful and lovely. And cold.

In the forest of Mytyl and Tyltyl
After that we hiked to St. Peters, where the city was holding a remarkable exhibition, organized around a series of theatrical tableaux, on Maurice Maeterlinck's mind-bending fairy tale "The Blue Bird." It was originally written as a play in 1908 and first put on by Stanislavski. There've also been a number of films based on it (including one with Shirley Temple and another starring Elizabeth Taylor) and an opera -- but the last picture book version was published in 1977. Hmm.... Anyway, it is one weird and creepy story, about siblings Mytyl and Tyltyl who travel, maybe in a dream, through strange forests, graveyards, and castles in search of a bluebird to give to a fairy's daughter who may or may not be dying. Along the way they meet their dead grandparents and learn the various types of joy, including the joy of running through a dewy field and the joy of motherhood. They find the bluebird at last, of course, in their own home. And yes, it is that bluebird -- the Bluebird of Happiness.

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