Svengali's Web

Svengali's Web The Alien Enchanter in Modern Culture

Hardback (22 Mar 2000) | English

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Synopsis

Svengali, the malevolent hypnotist in a sensationally successful novel published by George du Maurier in 1894, became such a well-known character in the culture of the period that his name entered the dictionary as one who exerts a malign persuasiveness on another. This book explores the origins and impact of Svengali and his helplessly mesmerized female victim Trilby in an age already rife with discussions of race, influence, and the unconscious mind.

Daniel Pick points out that Svengali was a Jew as well as a dangerous hypnotist; his depiction struck a chord not only with pervasive nineteenth-century forebodings about irrational interpersonal forces and psychic contacts but also with prevalent anti-Semitic assumptions. He shows how Svengali became the quintessential dark hypnotist of the fin de siècle, whose image was recycled in pictures, drama, verse, and films. Pick not only discusses the work of mesmerists, hypnotists, and critics of entrancement but also relates tales of surrogate passion and psychological foreboding that feature opera singer Jenny Lind, composer Richard Wagner, politician Benjamin Disraeli, novelist Henry James, and others. The book identifies and illuminates a psychological and historical preoccupation-a cluster of Victorian ideas and images, fears and fantasies of psychic invasion and racial hypnosis that crystallized in the figure and phenomenon of Svengali.

About the Publisher

Yale University Press

Yale University Press

By publishing serious works that contribute to a global understanding of human affairs, Yale University Press aids in the discovery and dissemination of light and truth, lux et veritas, which is a central purpose of Yale University. The publications of the Press are books and other materials that further scholarly investigation, advance interdisciplinary inquiry, stimulate public debate, educate both within and outside the classroom, and enhance cultural life. In its commitment to increasing the range and vigor of intellectual pursuits within the university and elsewhere, Yale University Press continually extends its horizons to embody university publishing at its best.

Book information

ISBN: 9780300082043
Publisher: Yale University Press
Imprint: Yale University Press
Pub date:
DEWEY: 809.93353
DEWEY edition: 21
Language: English
Number of pages: 284
Weight: 660g
Height: 234mm
Width: 156mm
Spine width: 27mm