Trilby (Oxford World's Classics)

Trilby (Oxford World's Classics) - George Du Maurier [These notes were made in 1983. I read this in an 1895 edition:]. Du Maurier is a minor novelist at best, and like Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, what he has created is not so much a great work of art (although I would say that Frankenstein is a good one) but an impingement on popular consciousness, an addition to popular culture. Svengali is a byword these days, tho' few people know his origin, and fewer still, I think, would recognize him in his portrait here. I begin to realize how prevalent the stereotypical repulsive Jew is in English literature (Merchant of Venice and Twist come to mind immediately), and have a little more sympathy with those who are outraged by it. It seems entirely unnecessary to specify a race or country of origin for the greasy, demanding, amoral, gifted dominator. Trilby is an interesting, if not terribly consistent character. She is altogether too spiritualized in her last scenes to have anything to do with the charming, earthbound creature of the beginning. As for the main device of the plot, it's an intriguing idea that latent musical genius could be released under hypnosis, but I see no reason why the personality should be utterly suppressed at the same time! As for Little Billee, the ostensible hero, he's just too sickening for words, and the jingoism of the book (LB's English, and the secondary characters are Welsh and Scots) is nearly as sickening. Du Maurier's drawings are a very interesting addition indeed, for his ideal of female beauty, much clearer in the pictures than in the words, is scarcely everyone's. He seems to have a particular fondness for a ski-nose and a jutting chin in a woman! In short, I found this more interesting than compelling.