Halloween is a time for masks, mystery and ghost stories. So why not take a journey back to the classic tale of literature’s most famous opera ghost?
The Phantom of the Opera (1910)
However, the original novel by French journalist and mystery writer Gaston Leroux is both extravagant and macabre, inspired both by rumors of a specter haunting the Palais Garnier and a real chandelier disaster.
Leroux describes his titular Phantom as a “living skeleton,” a wraithlike figure in dress clothes who smells like death and wears a full mask to cover a face that looks like a skull. He’s also a genius with the voice of an angel. And, unlike Dracula or Frankenstein’s monster, he has no magical powers or origin—he is simply a dangerous, tortured man.
As he laments to voice-student-turned-captor, Christine Daaé:
“If I am the phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.”
Perhaps his pleas for Christine’s love would elicit more sympathy if he hadn’t just, you know, kidnapped her to his lair five stories beneath the opera. And if he weren’t a murderer. But, ah, c’est la vie. Or at least, such is gothic horror.
What Makes These Catacombs Worth Exploring?
The Phantom of the Opera is distinct among horror classics because of its surprisingly complex heroine, Christine. At turns naïve and manipulative, Christine is a damsel in distress who ultimately saves herself through one small act of compassion.
The novel is also truly weird and chock full of music, masked balls and drama. Why not go along for the ride?
Find The Phantom of the Opera in our collection! (You might also want to check out the fantastic David Coward translation, opens a new window.)