Friday, May 29, 2015

The Phantom Of The Opera

The Phantom Of The Opera was written in 1911 but didn't become popular until later when the first film adaptation was made. There were several other movies with the same name based more or less on the original story including a feminist 1940s version where the girl chose career over love. Then came the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the famous 2004 movie with Gerard Butler as the Phantom which is my favourite. However, I only read the original book recently and really enjoyed it.

The Phantom Of The Opera was one of the many books of Gaston Leroux, a French journalist and writer who was a very interesting person himself. He claimed that he was one of the direct descendants of William the Conqueror and while I'm not sure if its true, the fact is that he came of an affluent family and inherited a large sum of money after his father's death.

He promptly stopped his law studies and managed to spend his whole fortune in a couple of months in the night life of Paris, after which he was forced to find a job and became a journalist and a very successful one. He traveled around the world looking for adventures and would risk his life, if necessary for an article. When Leroux turned 49 he decided enough was enough and settled in France with his wife and family. He died relatively young from renal failure leaving more than 60 works behind of which only The Phantom is probably known.

I guess we all know what the story is about, however, there are differences between the movie and the original novel. The book gives us much more background information about Christine, Raoul and Erik which is the Phantom's real name. The original story is way creepier than in the movie, while Raoul comes across as less masculine. In fact, when he isn't crying because Christine supposedly doesn't care for him, he's doing all sorts of stupid things and constantly needs help to get out of difficulties.

The original story of his and Christine's love shows such depths of betatude that it's slightly nauseating, however, there is enough suspense, intrigues and humour in  the book to make up for this. The novel gives a lot of interesting historical details and is partly based on real events or at least, rumours which were going around at that time. The author claims that the story is real from beginning to end, which makes it even more fun to read since even I started wondering at one moment if it could really be true.

Another difference is that Erik played by Gerard Butler is hot very attractive, while Erik in the novel is a creature of your worst nightmares (and possibly older). The end is also slightly different, however, the archetypal Beauty and the Beast story stays unchanged. I would recommend the book to everyone who likes (post) Victorian fiction of which the novel is a very fine example.

Here is to Erik:


  1. Now I want to read the book! I find some of the pieces in the musical, absolutely beautiful!

  2. It's really a very entertaining book! Now imagine how romantic the scene above would look if they were both wearing jeans...

    1. And t-shirts, preferably with some slogan:)