The Phantom of the Opera

Le Fantôme de l'Opéra
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Poisoned Pen Press
1909
Paperback
304
French
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January 2, 2022 January 10, 2022
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Every night at the Palais Garnier, hundreds of guests sit on the edge of velvet-covered seats, waiting for prima donna La Carlotta to take the stage. But when her voice fails her, La Carlotta is replaced with unknown understudy Christine Daaé, a young soprano whose vibrant singing fills every corner of the house and wins her a slew of admirers, including an old childhood friend who soon professes his love for her. But unknown to Christine is another man, who lurks out of sight behind the heavy curtains of the opera, who can move about the building undetected, who will do anything to make sure Christine will keep singing just for him…
This curated edition of The Phantom of the Opera, based on the original 1911 English translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, brings an iconic story of love and obsession to today's readers and illuminates the timeless appeal of Leroux's masterpiece.

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About the book

First book of the year. As a first reading, I decided to immerse myself in the classics and read The Phantom of the Opera. For various reasons. First of all my favorite skater played this music and since I can’t find the movie, I decided to read the story. Second is the favorite book of a booktuber that I follow and I wanted to see why.

Poor unfortunate Erik! Should we feel sorry for him? Should we curse him? He was just asking to be someone, like everyone else! He had a heart capable of holding the whole world, but he had to settle for a cave.

This sentence is, perhaps, what resemble the most of the phantom of the opera, also because the many cinematographic transpositions that make the phantom much more human than it is in the book. I have never seen any movies, but I suspected that the book was a bit of the usual “the man with physical disabilities who falls in love with a woman and does everything to make the girl fall in love with him”. And even if I like it as a scenario, if built well, I’m happy to say that this doesn’t happen here. The phantom of the opera is a criminal who does everything to appear normal, but who in the end shows his madness.

What I think

It can be said that his madness was born of concrete facts, his being rejected by his family for his ugliness gave birth to what ultimately became the phantom of the opera, so you can’t blame Erik without understanding his life. And that’s what I like about the book. The fact that in the end Erik was an outcast from society because he did not meet the standards of the time (and even nowadays even if the “ugliness” or physical impairments have become something else). If you forget what he did, you can see an outcast who falls in love and it’s right that even those who are not part of society for various reasons (often due to society itself) can have a normal life, create a family, but if you look at it all, you know that it’s how he got there that is wrong. While it is right that everyone can love, it is not right to force someone to love someone. While it is right that everyone in the world has the right to start a family, you cannot force someone who doesn’t want to be a children cooker to have a family and unfortunately this still happens often nowadays.

The book has many food for thought and is ideal for creating debates. I liked it even though I perhaps preferred the Disney version with the happy ending for the phantom (you know, I’m a sucker for the “damned” who comes to his senses, if done right).

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