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Trilby (French) Mass Market Paperback – Jun 1 2005


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 411 pages
  • Publisher: Rivages (June 1 2005)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 2743614285
  • ISBN-13: 978-2743614287
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.7 x 17 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 82 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,178,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Du Maurier's Trilby was the novel sensation of the 1890s. Du Maurier had spent a good deal of his life as a child and later as an art student in Paris; when he turned from his career in journalism and magazine illustration to novel writing he found enormous success with a novel divided as his own life had been between Paris and London. Billee, an English artist living the Bohemian life abroad, meets and falls in love with Trilby, a Parisian model. Differences in social class doom their romance, but Trilby, taught by the mysterious hypnotist Svengali to sing like "some enchanted princess" becomes a famous entertainer. As it turns out, however, her talent and her possession of her own mind have become dependent on Svengali maintaining his spell over her. Originally serialized in Harper's Monthly in 1894, Trilby was published with 120 illustrations by the author (who was also a celebrated caricaturist for Punch). All 120 illustrations were included in the Harper and Brothers New York edition of 1894, and in a British edition published the following year in London. The first British publication in book form, however, (by Osgood & McIlvaine in 1894) did not include any of Du Maurier's illustrations, and many editions since that time have included no illustrations or reproduced only a selection of the illustrations. Particularly given that many of the illustrations are integrated into the page of text in which they appear, Trilby is ideally suited to be made available again in a facsimile reprint. In its first year of publication, the book sold over 200,000 copies, and before long it had also been adapted for the stage. The name "Svengali" came to be applied to any hypnotist and the image of Svengali carved a lasting place in the popular imagination. Perhaps the most important expression of 1890s Bohemianism, Trilby has also attracted interest in recent years on account of its presentation of hypnosis and split personality, and for the conflicted but often anti-Semitic presentation of the mysterious Svengali. This is one of a series from Broadview Press of facsimile reprint editions—editions that provide readers with a direct sense of these works as the Victorians themselves experienced them. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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By Sverre Svendsen TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 12 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This may be a quaint and charming novel about English and German artists in Paris in the 1850s, but I would recommend it mostly for English lit majors who have a good mastery of French. This Oxford edition comprises three hundred pages of the novel itself, which includes many excellent illustrations by the author. But the novel is peppered with French verses, phrases, dialogue and cultural references; there is also German, slang and dialect. The back of the book has almost forty pages of 302 explanatory notes and even they don’t answer all the questions that may puzzle the reader. Having to constantly refer to the explanations disrupts the reading experience totally. Besides, I did not think the quality of the writing itself was noteworthy. The original was published in 1894 and gained wide popularity and notoriety—especially among academics, artists and the in-crowd. It was a cultural phenomenon. Aside from the young impressionable woman Trilby, there is the lecherous, rude, dirty, sadistic and narcissistic German Jew named Svengali who is given a major role in the plot. This suited the anti-Semitic mindset of the times. (Svengali has become a word in the dictionary for a dominating man with sinister motives.) Yes, this is a literary classic but I found it a tedious bore up until a hundred pages when I decided to place it in the box for donations to the public library.
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By A Customer on Sept. 23 2002
Format: Paperback
The book which put "Svengali" into the English language. I had heard of this book long ago, of course, though i can't remember whether it was first from learning about Svengali or finding out that du Maurier was Daphne du Maurier's father. But i had never read it. In a way i'm glad i didn't, becuase that has given me the opportunity to read it now, for the first time. It has taken me a little longer than i might have expected, but was well worth the time. The story of the tragic Trilby, who cannot sing a note to save her life, and how she is moulded into the singer who takes Europe by storm, by the evil (?)(i'm not sure) musician Svengali, who uses mesmerism of some kind to play her as an instrument. The story is told from the persepective of three Englishmen who lived in Paris during the time Trilby was an artists' model, before she fell under Svengali's spell. The three, Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee, who was her fiancé at one point, briefly, are artists, of a sort; they love Trilby for herself, and are devastated when she is removed from them by events. Naturally, they are shocked by her reappearance in the world of Culture. But they are delighted at the possibility of renewing her acquaintance.
I could wish that du Maurier had not been so cute with his French as "spoken" by the English. I could wish that there is less French altogether, as it does slow down the reading ~ perhaps one reason "Trilby" isn't read any more (is it?). It does generate an atmosphere, though, and you begin to know what Western Europe was like in the middle years of two centuries ago. This edition, Dover, has over a hundred illustrations by du Maurier, who had made his name as a cartoonist for Punch. They are lovely, and add immeasurably to the book.
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By lazza on June 8 2000
Format: Paperback
Trilby is the popular 1890s novel which introduced the word "svengali" into the English language. Simply stated, Trilby is story of three male British artists living the carefree life of 1850s bohemian Paris. Amongst their clique of artists and musicians is Trilby, a peasant girl with a heart of gold but no artist (or musical) talent, and Svengali, a talented yet sinister character. Svengali, through mysterious means, "possesses" Trilby's mind/soul and transforms her into a operatic zombie. Although a bit contrived by today's standards, this "evil man possessing young, innocent girl" theme has been repeated in such enduring pieces as Dracula (written only a couple years after Trilby) and Phantom of the Opera.
Unfortunately, Trilby is not fine literature. The portrait of bohemian life is definitely viewed through rose-colored glasses, and du Maurier's anti-semitic descriptions of the Jewish Svengali is rather vulgar (by today's standards).
Overall Trilby is a curiousity piece which probably won't appeal today's readers. It's decline into obscurity is justified.
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By A Customer on Dec 23 2000
Format: Paperback
I have to disagree with the reviewer who commented that this novel is at best a curiosity and that it deserved to fade into obscurity. I read this in a course on 19th century novels and fell in love with du Maurier's writings and his drawings. He uses such wonderful devices to flavor the text and in many ways this satirical view of the aesthetic movement informs the period as much as Oscar Wilde's work does. That the work has some anti-Semitic sentiment it is no more worrisome than anything in Shakespeare (meaning that you must take the work as a work in a period of time). The character types are common enough and the message of the story is timeless--I'll leave the discernment of the message to the reader. Reading this was like uncovering your grandad's favorite toy in the attic and realizing it was still fun to play with today.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Worth a read or two... Dec 23 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have to disagree with the reviewer who commented that this novel is at best a curiosity and that it deserved to fade into obscurity. I read this in a course on 19th century novels and fell in love with du Maurier's writings and his drawings. He uses such wonderful devices to flavor the text and in many ways this satirical view of the aesthetic movement informs the period as much as Oscar Wilde's work does. That the work has some anti-Semitic sentiment it is no more worrisome than anything in Shakespeare (meaning that you must take the work as a work in a period of time). The character types are common enough and the message of the story is timeless--I'll leave the discernment of the message to the reader. Reading this was like uncovering your grandad's favorite toy in the attic and realizing it was still fun to play with today.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
"You shall see nothing, hear nothing, think of nothing but Svengali, Svengali, Svengali!" (3 1/2 stars) June 16 2009
By CoffeeGurl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Set in bohemian Paris, Trilby is the name of the artless and innocent Scot-Irish girl who stumbles upon a group of artists who call themselves the "Three Musketeers of the Brush." The orphaned daughter of a drunken scholar, she is fluent in English and French, but speaks them in slang, has an unaffected air and thinks nothing of posing nude in front of a roomful of artists. She is the prettiest, sweetest and most wistful creature they had laid eyes upon. Little Billee is her biggest admirer. He especially loves her feet -- artists' feet, perfect feet. There is one big drawback: the girl cannot sing a single note, and this is most noticeable with Svengali, an ambitious and horrid German-Jewish musician. He notices, with great amusement, that she cannot tell one high note from another. An attraction ensues between Little Billee and Trilby, but circumstances tear them apart. At the same time, she becomes the object of Svengali's obsession. He takes every opportunity to seduce her, but she fears him, especially after he cures her headache by way of mesmerism. So imagine everyone's surprise when, some time later, she becomes a local diva with the voice of an angel, with Svengali as her manager and mentor. What could have caused such a transformation? Why is she under Svengali's protection? The secrets behind her success are quite sinister, and so will be the outcome if she doesn't free herself from Svengali.

First published in 1894, Trilby is a disturbing and tragic gothic novel centered on mind control and ruthless ambition. Pygmalion, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Phantom of the Opera sprang to mind when I read this. The writing is quite good (with an interesting second-person narrative style), the characters flawed, and the plot is both bewitching and beguiling. The relationship between Svengali and Trilby is surprisingly brief. The novel concentrates more on the backdrop of bohemian Paris and of various characters. (In fact, the first half of this book is extremely slow and boring. I read The Other Rebecca by Maureen Freely along with this one and actually enjoyed that one more on most occasions.) Yet the Trilby-Svengali relationship is the central storyline. Very interesting. The way Svengali controls Trilby, turning her into his puppet, is what intrigues me the most about this story. Various passages might strike some as anti-Semitic, for Jews are described in a not-so-flattering light in this book. Also, the constant quotations, stanzas and dialogues in French, German and Latin detract from the storyline. After all, I couldn't understand a word of it. Other than that, I enjoyed Trilby. George du Maurier was a good writer as well as an accomplished caricaturist. He drew the characters in this book, all of the pictures are found in the Oxford World's Classics edition. He passed his writing talent on to his granddaughter, Daphne du Maurier, who wrote Julius, a novel about a sinister, ambitious and manipulative man not unlike Svengali. (But the plot in Julius is quite different.) All in all, this is a memorable Victorian classic. Not the best I've read, but definitely worth rereading (at least the second half of the novel is worth giving a second go). Recommended if you're into late-Victorian gothics.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Victorism triumphant! Oct. 9 2000
By John Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
Three British artists go to paint in the Bohemian Latin Quarter of Paris, in the 1860s. Taffy Wynn, a reserved and good-natured English giant, resigned his cavalry commission after missing, by mischance, death or glory in the Charge of the Light Brigade. Sandy, the Laird of Cockpen, is a Scottish lawyer's son. Little Billee Bagot is the youngest, slight of build, of almost childish innocence, and yet the others realise that as a painter, he may someday tower above them.
The life and characters of the Latin Quarter are marvellously described, and we can only guess, nowadays, at some of the identities. Whistler the painter was much aggrieved. The three strike up a friendship with Trilby, daughter of a deceased Irish drunkard and Scottish barmaid, who is a laundress and artists' model. She is deeply unsettled by the sinister Svengali, a Jewish pianist with hypnotic powers.
The book is often accused of crude antisemitism, but "crude" seems unjust. Du Maurier claims that Little Billee has some proportion of that Jewish blood which is best diluted, but adds something to all others. Svengali's cruelest jest - they think - is to encourage Trilby to sing, saying she has the finest voice he knows. For she is tone-deaf, and the exhibition is grotesque.
Billee proposes marriage, and Trilby, who loves him, is induced to flee Paris. For besides being a laundress, she sits for "the altogether", and would destroy Billee's life in respectable society. She disappears, and only many years later is she discovered, as Madame Svengali, the singer whose fame is taking Europe by storm. For Svengali spoke nothing but the truth. She did indeed have the finest voice in Europe, which she was entirely unable to use, and that consummate but warped artist, by skill as much as hypnotism, has taught her to be the nightingale of her age.
The story ends tragically, as Victorian melodramas do. But high tragedy arises when a great and noble hero comes to grief through some fatal misconception. Trilby, in her last years, is highly enough respected to have elevated even the great William Bagot, rather than dragged him down. Suppose he and his family had realised? Suppose Svengali, although partially redeemed, had been unselfish enough to tell all, and teach her in Paris?
Joseph Heller wrote of a character whose girlfriends had to wait until a play was over, to know whether they were enjoying it, and then they knew at once. The literary establishment does not like sentiment, because the ordinary reader does not need any help to know if he likes it. But if you want to sample Victorian sentimentalism at its best, this is where to start.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Read it for the atmosphere Sept. 23 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book which put "Svengali" into the English language. I had heard of this book long ago, of course, though i can't remember whether it was first from learning about Svengali or finding out that du Maurier was Daphne du Maurier's father. But i had never read it. In a way i'm glad i didn't, becuase that has given me the opportunity to read it now, for the first time. It has taken me a little longer than i might have expected, but was well worth the time. The story of the tragic Trilby, who cannot sing a note to save her life, and how she is moulded into the singer who takes Europe by storm, by the evil (?)(i'm not sure) musician Svengali, who uses mesmerism of some kind to play her as an instrument. The story is told from the persepective of three Englishmen who lived in Paris during the time Trilby was an artists' model, before she fell under Svengali's spell. The three, Taffy, the Laird, and Little Billee, who was her fiancé at one point, briefly, are artists, of a sort; they love Trilby for herself, and are devastated when she is removed from them by events. Naturally, they are shocked by her reappearance in the world of Culture. But they are delighted at the possibility of renewing her acquaintance.
I could wish that du Maurier had not been so cute with his French as "spoken" by the English. I could wish that there is less French altogether, as it does slow down the reading ~ perhaps one reason "Trilby" isn't read any more (is it?). It does generate an atmosphere, though, and you begin to know what Western Europe was like in the middle years of two centuries ago. This edition, Dover, has over a hundred illustrations by du Maurier, who had made his name as a cartoonist for Punch. They are lovely, and add immeasurably to the book.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Very ahead of it's time. March 18 2005
By S. Hebbron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The story essentially centres on the competition between two men for love of one woman, but ultimately each of them abuses her with their own notoins of ownership. It seems to focus on the nature by which we can kill those we love with strangulating beliefs of ownership and imposing standards of behaviour which kill the spirit of the being we direct them at.

Given that "ownership" was a strong theme in Victorian marriage, this book was being ultimately brave but it seems the audience at the time of it's release, revelled in it's horror form a gothic point of view, a hugely popular novel movement at the time.

It has taken time and changes in attitudes to see the themes beyond the story. This book still has enormous contempary resonance and is a disturbing but important read.


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