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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Svengali is the name of a fictional character in George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby. A sensation in its day, the novel created a stereotype of the evil hypnotist that persists to this day. The character was portrayed in many silent film versions of the story, and in talking pictures by John Barrymore in a 1931 film of the same name, by Donald Wolfit in a 1954 version in Technicolor, and by Peter O'Toole in a 1983 made-for-television modernized version, also in color, co-starring Jodie Foster. This last one changed the names of all the characters, but was still called Svengali.

The word "Svengali" has entered the language meaning a person who, with evil intent, manipulates another into doing what is desired. It is frequently used for any kind of coach who seems to exercise an extreme degree of domination over a performer (especially if the person is female or believes he or she can only perform in the presence of the coach).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Svengali" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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