Svengali's Web: The Alien Enchanter in Modern Culture (Paperback)Daniel Pick (author)
Paperback 298 Pages / Published: 26/09/2014
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Svengali, the malevolent hypnotist in 'Trilby', a sensationally successful novel published by George du Maurier in 1894, became such a known character in the culture of the period that his name entered the dictionary as one who exerts a malign influence over another. This book investigates the enduring use of his image in modern culture and politics, exploring the origins and impact of Svengali and his helplessly mesmerised female victim Trilby in an age already rife with discussions of race, covert persuasion and the unconscious mind. Svenglai 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. Daniel Pick shows how Svengali became the quintessential dark hypnotist of the fin de siecle, whose image was recycled in pictures, drama, verse and film. The book not only discusses the work of mesmerists, hypnotists, and critics of enchantment 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. It identifies and illuminates a psychological and historical preoccupation in the period between Mesmer and Freud - a cluster of Victorian ideas and images, fears and fantasies of psychic invasion and racial hypnosis that crystallised in the figure and phenomenon of Svengali. Daniel Pick is reader in history at Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London and an editor of 'History Workshop Journal'. He is the author of 'War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Modern Age', published by Yale University Press.
Publisher: Yale University Press
Number of pages: 298
Weight: 422 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 16 mm
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