chapter  8
12 Pages

Without Memory or Desire: the Model’s Progress in Trilby

ByJane Desmarais

The sensation generated by the illustrated serialized publication of George Du Maurier's 'Trilby' in New Harper's Monthly Magazine is well documented. The story ran in monthly instalments from January to June 1894 and immediately attracted a devoted American readership. Trilby's first appearance in Du Maurier's novel is cross-gendered and cross cultured. She is 'clad in the grey overcoat of a French infantry soldier, continued nether-wards by a short striped petticoat'. Trilby's social and moral progress in the novel is nothing more than a series of poses and erasures. At the beginning of the novel, she is an oversized, fleshly and personable young woman who models in the 'altogether'. When she is forced to break off her marriage to Little Billee, Trilby flings herself down on her bed repentant-weeping-widow style. The view of the model's progress presented in Trilby is deliberately complex.