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The Life of the Bee (1901)

by Maurice Maeterlinck


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[Samuel] Goldwyn boasted that the greatest living writers were on his team of authors [at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer] and he would spare no expense to get them, even if his ideas about their output were rather vague. One of the literary celebrities he lured to Hollywood was the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize for literature and author of the enormously successful La Vie des abeilles (The Life of the Bee). When Maeterlinck arrived, fearful of his ignorance of motion-picture technique, Goldwyn reassured him: "I know you don't understand picture technique. That doesn't matter. All I want you to do is just go away and write your greatest book over in the form of a scenario."

A few weeks later Maeterlinck returned with a manuscript. Goldwyn was delighted and retired beaming into his office, taking the manuscript with him to read. A couple of minutes later he rushed out again screaming. "My God," he yelled, "the hero is a bee!"

(Source: The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes)