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The Phantom of the Opera
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message 1: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Here is the schedule for the Classic Club discussion of The Phantom of the Opera.

Find a copy of the book now to get ready. Available free on kindle for those with one.

December 1st: Discuss the Prologue, and Chapters 1-8
December 8th: Discuss Chapters 9-18
December 15th: Discuss Chapters 19-26 and the Epilogue

Tried to get the discussion scheduled before most people would be leaving for holidays. :o)


message 2: by Diana (new)

Diana | 6 comments I hope I'll join in! :-D


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments I will, I already read the book.


message 4: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
I'm down for it


message 5: by Vicki (new) - added it

Vicki Seems manageable. I'll give it a go.


message 6: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Mini Biography of the author

A native of Paris, France, a poet, journalist and novelist, Gaston Leroux is known for his many creative horror stories, including "Rouilable", "The Haunted Chair" and "The Wax Mask", but is probably best known for his work "The Phantom of the Opera", which became Leroux's prize possession. He wrote the novel in 1908 about a disfigured man who dresses in masks and capes and terrorizes a Paris opera house while falling in love with the leading lady. "Phantom" was based much upon Leroux's own experiences. During his early years as a journalist in the late 1800s, Leroux spent time going the Paris Opera House and watching performances, and was influenced by Charles Gounod's opera "Faust", about a man who sells his soul to the devil. On one occasion the chandelier which featured in the opera fell into the audience by accident. Combining the singers, Faust and the chandelier together, Lroux created "The Phantom of the Opera".

In 1923 Carl Laemmle, head of the new Universal Pictures in Hollywood, produced a film of the novel, The Phantom of the Opera (1925), with Lon Chaney in the lead. Leroux was impressed by this, but two years later he died. Since that time "Phantom of the Opera" has become so popular it has inspired five feature remakes, one in 1943 Phantom of the Opera (1943)), another in 1962 (The Phantom of the Opera (1962) and again in 1989 (The Phantom of the Opera (1989)). A television version was also made (The Phantom of the Opera (1983) (TV)) and then a remake made in 1999 (The Phantom of the Opera (1998)). The most recent remake is Joel Schumacher's The Phantom of the Opera (2004), produced and cast by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson, three quite unknown actors, rather than Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, the original actors of the Broadway show. The novel was also made into a major London & Broadway stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Gaston Leroux will forever be remembered for "The Phantom of the Opera".


message 7: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Okay, lets start the discussion of chapters 1-8 of this book. What are everyone's first thoughts? Is this book what you expected? What is your opinion of the Opera Ghost so far?

And as a side note, has anyone seen the movie or the play of this book? If you have, how is the book comparing to the performance?


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments I have been the movie and play of this book. The book is pretty close to the performance. There is actually two versions of the book. There is Phantom of the Opera and there is a book called Phantom which spans the Opera Ghost's whole life from birth to death and you actually get a better in depth picture of the Opera Ghost and why he does and acts the way he is. I have read this book twice. My opinions are the same though. I have more sympathy for the Opera Ghost even though he comes off as cold.


message 9: by Patricia (new) - added it

Patricia Herr (patriciaellisherr) | 8 comments I've only read the prologue thus far, but I love the writing -- feels like I'm reading Poe, the style is similar.

Will comment further once I've read the chapters.


message 10: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
I admit it I'm behind. December showed up and I'm still thinking October. I'm a fast reader though so I wont be behind for long.


message 11: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
No worries, ladies. :o)
Just chime in with any comments when you catch up.


Irene | 3969 comments I will try to be careful not to reveal anything beyond the chapters under discussion. But, this drew me in so completely that I had to read the entire thing right off. I think that the author is doing a wonderful job of creating a mood. I can feel the tension. I thought the prologue was great with the acknowledgements to those who helped with his journalistic research. He makes you feel as if this is a true story rather than fiction.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments I hate Raoul. I seen the play and read the book twice and my opinion of him hasn't changed. I don't want Christine and Raoul to be together.


Irene | 3969 comments I was not fond of Raoul early in the book. He came off as a bit of a twit. But, that little twit grew on me by the end of the book.

Does the skepticism of the new managers seem reasonable? I want them to investigate. There are too many people claiming that there is a ghost for it to be a practical joke of the old managers. Mass hysteria I could accept, but opera managers never struck me as the practical joke types.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments The new managers are practical people so to them, there is no ghost.


Irene | 3969 comments Well, yes, I am also practical and don't believe in ghosts, but I figure there is some hanky panky going on which is more than a little joke by the old managers. This book drew me in so quickly that I wanted them to question what is going on and take things seriously enough to really investigate it all. At best, someone is robbing them of a considerable sum of money.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments I think they did try to investigate some but nothing came of it.


Nancy | 1274 comments It is interesting to compare the real book to what was done with this as a musical. I wanted the new managers to take the warnings seriously - there were too many to be a joke. I am not convinced the Opera Ghost really is a spirit. But that's my practical side as well. I am also fascinated with the construction of the real Paris Opera House and how the real building and events inspired the story. I won't spoil anything by saying more yet.


Irene | 3969 comments Yes, the building is amazing. I also find its history, its use for political prisoners, fascinating.


Kat (A Journey In Reading) (ajourneyinreading) | 390 comments I have seen the movie and the play of this. Loved both... so much so, that my blog is themed from it.

I must say though, I will always be a fan of the Phantom...


message 21: by Patricia (new) - added it

Patricia Herr (patriciaellisherr) | 8 comments This is the best book I've read in a very long time. I finally picked it up and read Chapters 1-8 today so I could catch up with the rest of you ladies, and now I'm having a very hard time putting it down. Unfortunately, I've got a ton of things to do today, otherwise I'd finish it right now!

The suspense, the wonderful character descriptions, the humor infused with the frights, the details about human nature that still ring true a hundred years after this book was written (the pink-legged girls talking up the Ghost and enjoying the act of frightening each other, the jealousy and cattiness of Carlotta, the let's-investigate-this-nonsense-though-I-admit-I'm-freaked-out attitudes of the new managers, lol)...I'm loving it.

I saw the musical long ago, but to me it felt cheesy. The book doesn't feel cheesy, it feels...well, just plain entertaining and wonderful.

Looking forward to reading the rest.


Trisha I really loved reading this novel! I found that there was much more action and mystery in the book then could be portrayed in a musical. I saw the film/musical version and felt like some of the missing pieces had been added into it. Still, what a fantastic concept! Creative and original! And I kinda' feel bad for the Phantom. I certainly don't justify him killing people, but seriously, could someone just give the poor guy a hug!!


Nancy | 1274 comments As much as I LOVE most Broadway shows I have to remind myself that the art form isn't always effective at conveying complex emotions with much subtlety! Like a movie there is only so much you can cram in a limited amount of time.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments Trisha wrote: "I really loved reading this novel! I found that there was much more action and mystery in the book then could be portrayed in a musical. I saw the film/musical version and felt like some of the m..."

Yeah he needs a hug.


Debbie (klyde2211) I'm enjoying reading the book. I, too, am having a hard time putting it down.


message 26: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Okay, on with the discussion of chapters 9-18.
So Christine has now disappeared. What do you think?
And who are you rooting for? Are you Team Erik? Or Team Raoul? :o)
What do you think of Christine's response to Erik?



We have also now been introduced to the lake under the Opera house. Nancy had mentioned being interested in the actual Paris Opera House construction, so here are a few Wikipedia facts for you:
***
The Palais Garnier is "probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur basilica."[9] This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux's 1911 novel The Phantom of the Opera and the novel's subsequent adaptations in films and Andrew Lloyd Weber's popular 1986 musical.
***
The opera house needed a much deeper basement in the substage area than other building types, but the level of the groundwater was unexpectedly high. Wells were sunk in February 1862 and eight steam pumps installed in March, but the site would not dry up. To deal with this problem Garnier designed a double foundation to protect the superstructure from moisture. It incorporated a water course and an enormous concrete cistern (cuve) which would both relieve the pressure of the external groundwater on the basement walls and serve as a reservoir in case of fire. A contract for its construction was signed on 20 June. Soon a persistent legend arose that the opera house was built over a subterranean lake, inspiring Gaston Leroux to incorporate the idea into his novel The Phantom of the Opera.
***
On 20 May 1896, the falling of one of the counterweights for the grand chandelier resulted in the death of one member of the audience. This incident inspired one of the more famous scenes in Gaston Leroux's classic 1910 gothic novel The Phantom of the Opera.
***
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palais_G...


Irene | 3969 comments Eric scares me. He seems so desparate and desparate people can be irrational and too often violent. At this point in the novel, I was filled with foreboding. How could Christina get out of this alive. How many people is Eric going to take down with him?


Debbie (klyde2211) Irene wrote: "Eric scares me. He seems so desparate and desparate people can be irrational and too often violent. At this point in the novel, I was filled with foreboding. How could Christina get out of this ..."

Eric also scares me for the same reasons. He willing to sacrifice anyone for his desires and to maintain control. Christina seems kind of codependent on the Ghost. She's terrified of him, but has to sing for him one last time?


Nancy | 1274 comments Eric is frightening. And I agree Debbie - what is the psychological draw for Christine? Or why would someone empathize with him, feel sympathy?


message 30: by Jayme(the ghost reader) (last edited Dec 08, 2011 08:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments Keep reading, and Christine thinks Eric is her Angel of Music.


Irene | 3969 comments Maybe my 21st century background is ruining me from empathizing with Eric, but he strikes me as a stalker. I got to this section of the story fearing a mass murder. Too many episodes of "Criminal Minds"?


message 32: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I'm actually feeling a bit of sympathy for Erik. He is some ugly guy that lives in the cellar of an opera house, but he apparently has a beautiful voice because he was teaching Christine to sing. So I see him as having beauty inside, but being deformed outwardly for some reason and having to wear the mask so people won't be totally disgusted by him. And this has given him his bad attitude. So I'm with Trisha thinking the guy really needs a hug. :o)

And Raoul annoys me. There was one comment he made, in chapter 13, that really cracked me up (right before he shot the eyes looking at him through his window):

"He put out his lamp and felt a need to insult Erik in the dark. Thrice over, he shouted: "Humbug!...Humbug!...Humbug!"

Yes, Raoul, you are the man! Major insulting there. :o)


Irene | 3969 comments Yes, I also found that scene rather funny. Really, he shot a stray cat. Christina seems to have her choice between a 10 ear old who thinks he is Batman or a deformed lunatic. If I were Christina I would take a vow of virginity at this point.


Nancy | 1274 comments Irene I can always count on you to put things in the proper perspective! Love it!


message 35: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Too funny, Irene! :o)


Debbie (klyde2211) I don't like Raoul either. I find him rather annoying. Perhaps a hug would have helped Erik many years ago. Now, I feel he's deformed on both in the outside and the inside. I don't see redemption in his future.


message 37: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Okay, time to wrap up our discussion of Phantom. :o)

So what did everyone think of the ending? Were you happy with the ending, or would you have preferred it to end some other way?

And for some added discussion, here are a couple questions I found on the Random House site for this book. Please feel free to discuss either, or both...

1. Some modern critics feel the characters in The Phantom of the Opera are static and shallow, that Christine is too innocent, Raoul too noble, and Erik’s obsession with Christine never fully explained. Do you think Leroux purposely did this, and if so, why?

2. Some critics see the Phantom as simply the unconscious, the Freudian superego. Do you believe this is what Leroux was truly writing about, or did he give his monster more depth?


Irene | 3969 comments I was fascinated with the Persian. He seems to come out of no where to save the day. How does he live in the shadows of the opera all this time? How does he know that Christina is in trouble or how to get Raoul to trust him. I wanted his story filled out a bit more.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments I do think the characters are a little shallow. The only ones I didn't think were shallow were Christine and Phantom. I never got the impression that the Phantom character was the superego. I always thought he was a solid, real person character.


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Patricia Herr (patriciaellisherr) | 8 comments Agreed, many characters felt one-dimensional. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved the style of the writing. Felt like Poe penned it, and I'm a big fan of Poe. Also agreed, the Phantom felt real to me and not a spectre of the mind.

Enjoyable read.


Irene | 3969 comments I suppose that the lack of character depth did not bother me because this was clearly intended to be a suspense novel, driven by plot, not by character. I never expected any character to have any epiphany or develop in some noticable fashion. I expected for the mystery to be solved. And, the novel delivered on that level for me. It had me trying to figure things out before the narrator could reveal them. It had me holding my breath wondering if the masked man would kill the young lovers or the wise Persian or if they would escape. If this was intended as some psychological parable, I totally missed it.


message 42: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Interesting comments, everyone. :o)

Here are a few more questions for everyone:

The Phantom of the Opera was published as the romantic movement was slowly turning into the gothic movement. How would you classify it?

Leroux wrote The Phantom of the Opera in a time when there was widespread French interest in Freudian psychoanalysis and particularly the libidinal/infantile/mother-seeking unconscious. How does Leroux work this into his novel? Are there characters that fit the infant or mother role?

One of Leroux’s major themes in this novel is the changing of one’s class. Consider Christine, the daughter of a fairground fiddle player, now besting the most talented opera singer in Paris and winning the heart of a viscount. What is Leroux saying here? Is it meant to simply be a happy ending?


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 4843 comments I always thought "The Phantom of the Opera" as a love story even though it has Gothic themes.

I think Leroux is saying you can change your financial status. You don't have to be just a fiddler's daughter. You can have dreams and have them come true. You aren't necessarily stuck in the class you are born in.


message 44: by Abby (new) - rated it 4 stars

Abby | 119 comments Leroux may have wanted his characters to be able to transcend the class they were born into, but which of his characters really was able to do that? Christine and Raoul, though able to be together in the end, had to run away to do so. Them being together in Paris only brought ridicule, argument, and death, all surrounding their place in society.

On the previous thread about the characters, I agree with Irene that this is a thriller, not a character study. However, I liked the amount that was given about the characters because it allowed the reader to run away with how they developed the character. Others mentioned they did not like Raoul, that he was a bit babyish, but he was a baby! He was a 20-year-old in love when everything is life and death. I felt his response to Christine and Erik's 'affair' was very realistic, believable, and sweet, as a 20-year-old's love can be.

Finally, I was pleased that Leroux did not describe in-depth what Erik looked like. I liked to imagine his hideousness at every unveiling, each time it changing based on the character's response - even the Persian was sure to obey the command to look away.

I really enjoyed this book, more than I expected. Fun read.


message 45: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Abby wrote: "Finally, I was pleased that Leroux did not describe in-depth what Erik looked like. I liked to imagine his hideousness at every unveiling, each time it changing based on the character's response - even the Persian was sure to obey the command to look away. "

I agree with you on this Abby. I am also pleased that Erik's looks were never really detailed. It was more fun to imagine what he looked like than it would have been to have his face described in detail.


Megan Underwood | 267 comments This is my all-time favorite Broadway show, so I was very excited to read this Classic. I could write a novel on the preferences between the book and show version, but I will spare you all the details. Briefly my main problem with the book was that I did not find the love story between Raoul and Christine believable. Raoul appeared weak in both mind and strength, especially during the torture chamber part. And it felt as if Christine’s loneliness got the better of her and she was settling. Her love for Raoul was merely a connection with her father. I sympathized with Erik a majority of the time and had an easier time understanding Christine’s love for him. Maybe Leroux was also cheering for the OG to win the girl?

“Beauty, like supreme dominion Is but supported by opinion.” ~ Benjamin Franklin


Nancy (Colorado) I am almost done with the book and have enjoyed reading it. One gets the sense of urgency and emotions displayed by Christine And Raoul. However, seeing it on stage with the music and props really has had the most impact for me!


Irene | 3969 comments Did we pick another classic for our next read yet?


message 49: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Irene wrote: "Did we pick another classic for our next read yet?"

No book has been picked yet, but now would be a great time for some suggestions. I'll bump up the original Classics Club thread, and everyone is welcome to make suggestions as to what they might like to read next there.

And if anyone wants to continue discussion Phantom here, please feel free to chime in. :o)


Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) I was rather disappointed in this book, to be honest. I grew up loving the musical and the movie, and didn't experience the book until later in life. I was annoyed by the characters of Raoul and Christine in the novel, and thought Erik creepy and pitiful.


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