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The Phantom of the Opera (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – March 24, 2012
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About the Author
David Coward is Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Leeds. A regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books, he won the Scott-Moncrieff Prize for Translation in 1996.
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; 1st edition (March 24, 2012)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0199694575
- ISBN-13 : 978-0199694570
- Lexile measure : 910L
- Item Weight : 7.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 7.7 x 0.6 x 5.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Maybe you're used to the commonly portrayed Phantom, a reasonably good looking, athletic, fit man with a bad sunburn, fortunately covered by his mask. (Gerard Butler? Lovely, handsome, rock star voice, but not my Phantom of choice.)
Or perhaps it's a musical Phantom, romantic and sweet with a touch of rage and mommy issues. (Andrew Lloyd Weber? I'm looking your way while swooning at Michael Crawford.)
Or so many of the Phanfics where he's truly a sweet, caring, misunderstood man deeply in love with Christine, a musical genius with his first crush, unsure of how to act, while Raoul is a simpering idiot swooning for her affection, or a cruel man not worthy of her. (Phanfic writers? Keep 'em coming, I can't read them fast enough.)
None of these are the Phantom, the Opera Ghost, you'll find in this book. He's most often referred to as a monster, an evil cruel demon torturing people for fun, hideously deformed to the point of needing a mask to remotely resemble a person. Christine is surprised to feel pity for him, her daddy issues melding with his mommy issues temporarily until she sees the psycho...
*ahem* Until she sees the psychotic, twisted man ready to blow up the Opera House and everyone in it unless she capitulates to his demands. Sweet, caring romantic? Not this Gothic horror story. Here he's a homicidal freak living in the cellars that he helped build, a hideaway from the world while he plays on a young dancer's emotions, teaching her to sing to fulfill his own desires and turning mad with rage when she's not agreeable to his plan to wed. And yet... There's still a touch of sweetness, of desperate pleas to just be like other men, to just be happy and accepted. You can see it in his words to Christine, and in the Persian's interview years after the fact, once the fright of one of the worst evenings of his life has worn off.
Some other familiar characters are in this version that may or may not be in other versions. Mme Giry, who helps Erik, much to the consternation of the theatre managers, unaware of what they've purchased. The Persian, telling his story of what happened in the cellars, and how they barely escaped. Raoul, sweet boy of Christine's childhood turned into the man of her dreams while Erik is probably still, decades later, giving her nightmares.
The style is of an expose newpaper writer, sharing the scandalous tale while citing references and trying to remain detached. Romance? Hardly, even if only seen from Erik's view. Elegant story that launched countless remakes and tributes? Absolutely. It will remain one of my favorites because of that.
Gaston Leroux did the unimaginable, he created the first loveable psychopath. Unlike his contemporaries, whose "bad guys" were really "bad," The Opera Ghost is relatable. We understand his need to be loved leads to his obsession and his ultimate demise. We pity him. We love him. At times, we love him to the point that we despise Christine for her unwillingness to love him as we do. It is nearly impossible to garner sympathy for Comte de Chagny because he is the antithesis of the Opera Ghost.
However, we do not go into the book expecting to side with the Opera Ghost. He is the villain, the bad guy, the one we expect to despise. Yet Leroux's masterful creation of his character leads us naturally to change our perspective and preconceived notions of who is really the villain.
Top reviews from other countries
I bought it as a paperback, and did not think to check the dimensions: 21.6 x 0.7 x 27.9 cm. That is more like a magazine than a paperback. There are only 124 pages, and the whole is very floppy. It is uncomfortable to hold and read, totally ruining my experience of the wonderful book.
I just can't read this annoying edition. I paid £3.58, but the Collins Classic for £2.50 from Amazon Prime would have been the better choice, at 320 pages.
I won't be returning the book, because the dimensions were there in the listing, and it's my fault not to have read it. I'll just have to order a more handy size, as I would recommend to other readers, and Phantom fans.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 27, 2020
For all his faults though, the dude does like his music.
If you’ve seen a film or stage show of Phantom then the story is familiar to you. The novel, however, is considerably darker than any of the adaptations and that alone makes it worth a read.
As a free download (at time of writing) this comes highly recommended.