Monday, March 25, 2013

Thoughts: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Gaston Leroux

Gaston Leroux - Le Fantôme de l'Opéra.jpgOriginal Publication Date: 1909 (French); 1911 (English)

Genre: gothic

Topics: opera, love, mystery

Review by heidenkind:

In the labyrinth under the Paris Opera, an impish yet dangerous "ghost" reigns. Sure, he's killed a few people, but all he wants is to be loved!

The Phantom of the Opera was a reread for me (or read-listen, since I downloaded the audiobook from Librivox. Read by my favorite narrator, Ralph Snelson, fyi). I first read it in high school and it's honestly one of my favorite novels. Erik has to be one of the greatest characters in fiction. Yes, it is BIG with the drama (it takes place in an opera, what do you expect?), and one of my friends on FaceBook called it pulpy, but I don't think it's pulpy--it's more sensationalistic. Like The Woman in White, only shorter and French.

Anyway, The Phantom was definitely due for a reread, as I'd forgotten a lot of things since I last read it. For example:

  • I totally forgot Raoul and Christine were childhood sweethearts. That was sweet. It kind of made me like Raoul for a few chapters, until...
  • I realized Raoul is actually a BAZILLION TIMES more annoying that I remembered him being. Uhg, he is SUCH a douche. Christine can't do anything without him going into a pity spiral and he cries at the drop of a hat. I honestly don't know how Christine can stand him. I guess being a vicomte and (I guessing) rich is a plus, but still. Not worth it.
  • Of course, her other choice is the Phantom, who let's face it is a bit of a psycho. I'd forgotten just how creepy Erik can be sometimes. His letters to the Opera managers (who are hilarious, by the way) read like something Jack the Ripper would write, and his default response to any difficulty seems to be either torture or killing. But when he's not being creepy, he's totally awesome! And then he just inspires pity, which is never a good basis for a relationship.
  • I love the framing in this novel. Usually framing annoys me, but in The Phantom of the Opera it really helps make this outlandish story somewhat plausible.
  • The Persian--I remember really liking him when I first read the book, but this time around I was kind of annoyed with how he took Raoul's side. Why you got to hate like that, Persian dude?
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation of this book is really good. REALLY good. I bet you five bucks he read this book back to front as a kid so many times he knows it by heart. Of course, I still like the book better, because I like books, but still. Good job on that!
  • In high school, I remember being frustrated with the ending, but seeing it as inevitable and recognizing that Christine and the Phantom could have never been together. Now, I'm not so sure. It's really the worst ending ever because no one gets what they should have, and only douchey Raoul gets what he wants. You know that saying, if you love someone let them go? I guess we know who really loved Christine now, don't we?

Anyway, this is a good book. You should all read it!

Download The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux at Project Gutenberg|Librivox