Book Review: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

I saw last year an opera/musical version of The Phantom of the Opera and fell in love with the macabre tale. The story is hauntingly romantic, and disturbing in so many levels it is no wonder it keeps living on stage and screen. What differs from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s interpretation is that while the musical/opera has Christine as a central character with action, she is only narrated through others (male characters) in the book.  The book is a recount of the events what happened at the Opera house and is not as dynamic as the musical. There is a lot the movies and the musical have improved with the storytelling, but they have lost the deepness of Erik’s, the phantom’s, character.

Erik’s passion for Christine is overwhelming and deadly, and somehow beautiful. I hate that I was drawn into the whole dynamic of the thing, thinking I could look past such notions and reason love and lust, but I guess the love triangle and pursuit of two suitors have some primal appeal. It’s no wonder it keeps repeating in our tales and lives. But past that, The Phantom of the Opera is a tale about acceptance and love. We all want to be accepted, loved for who we are despite our flaws, we all want to be touched and held, and thought valuable. And if that is robbed from us, if we are hated, hunted, and feared all our lives, it breaks the spirit. And it’s no wonder Erik doesn’t understand how to connect with others, how to gain love other than by taking it with force and manipulation. He wants normality while he is surrounded by wonders and astonishments. Erik is a sad creature, and Christine is right to take pity on him. But pity is never base for love and connection, and that comes painfully obvious for all.

The book is Erik’s story, unlike the opera/musical is Christine’s story. The story is at times messy and drags on, but there is still this compulsion to read on, as the tale spoke to me. I can understand why the story has come classic. It toys with romantic love and deep passion. Passion to die for.

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