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Thread: Book Group for The Phantom of the Opera

  1. #1
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    Book Group for The Phantom of the Opera

    To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of my all-time favorite book, The Phantom of the Opera, I'm hosting an online book club. We'll discuss the book via this thread. You can find the event information and announcements on this page, as well as facts, pictures, trivia, etc.: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=235564999828475

    On October 28, everyone participating will have their own local parties where they will watch the silent film. The parties can be as big or as small as you like. You don't have to have a party to participate, and you don't have to read the book to throw a party.

    I can't begin to tell you how fantastic this book is. I hope you decide to join!

    Let the discussing begin!
    Last edited by rosepetal720; 09-17-2011 at 08:26 AM.
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  2. #2
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    Nothing for those of us who don't have Facebook, eh?

    Ah, well. Have fun!
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  3. #3
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    There are people without Facebook?!?! LOL, I changed the announcement so that most of the fun will take place here. I hope you're happy.
    Last edited by rosepetal720; 09-17-2011 at 04:32 AM.
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  4. #4
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    Did you know Gaston Leroux set the novel in a real opera house in Paris (one that actually has a lake underneath it)? He supposedly was inspired by strange things that happened there. Back in his day, people thought there really was an "opera ghost." I've tried to find more information about that online, but haven't been very successful.

    He says repeatedly that the opera ghost was real and the novel is his true story. Obviously he had to fill in a lot of blanks, but do you think Leroux really believed in the ghost?
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  5. #5
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    I wouldn't be surprised if he did. I also wouldn't be surprised if there were people living off that lake as well. Land in Paris has been at a premium for centuries, so those who don't have much will live where others won't.

    Considering anyone living there was trespassing, I wouldn't be surprised there were lots of traps to warn people away.

    And, FWIW, there was a point where I found the family tree and history of the Viscomtes de Changy through the 1800's. Lost that link a couple computers ago, but it was interesting.
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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW bkendall's Avatar
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    I have recently become interested in reading the novel. It will be my first time, believe it or not. I'm just wondering if you would have any suggestions about good discussion material I can read along with the novel to explain details I wouldn't normally catch. Or, is the book self-explanatory? What other works would you compare the novel to? Like I said, I'm very new to the Phantom of the Opera. I hope this post didn't confuse you. I'll try to clarify if needed.
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  7. #7
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    What you need depends entirely on how familiar you are with novels and the socially acceptable actions for the genders of that era.

    If you're not, then some of it could be confusing because the heroes aren't particularly heroic, men aren't very "manly", etc. etc. etc. However, for the audience LeRoux was writing for, all of that was pretty normal.

    If you have questions--ask here. They're great discussion fodder.

    Hope you enjoy it. I also hope you're not expecting to find Weber's exact story here.
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  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW bkendall's Avatar
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    I'm very familiar with novels of the time period, i.e. Monte Cristo, Little Women, Great Expectations, and the like. I never could sit through the movie made recently and have never been to the play, although I hear it is good. With that said, I have had almost no exposure to the story at all in any form.
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  9. #9
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    Deleyan: Oh my gosh, I would LOVE it if you could find that link again! That's exactly the kind of think I'd want to put up on the Facebook event page...

    ...which leads me to my comment for Bkendall: I'm going to keep posting supplemental material on the event page, like discussion questions, history, etc, that you might find interesting. Hope it helps. If you find anything you'd care to share, feel free to post there.

    As far as how should you read it, my book says Gaston Leroux was one of the first crime-mystery writers. It's supposed to be read as a mystery book. Unfortunately, so many people are familiar with the story that the mystery is lost, and they're surprised by the structure of the book because they're expecting an all-blown-out romance. I'm excited for you to read it since you don't know the story extremely well; you'll have a unique perspective.
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  10. #10
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rosepetal720 View Post
    As far as how should you read it, my book says Gaston Leroux was one of the first crime-mystery writers. It's supposed to be read as a mystery book. Unfortunately, so many people are familiar with the story that the mystery is lost, and they're surprised by the structure of the book because they're expecting an all-blown-out romance. I'm excited for you to read it since you don't know the story extremely well; you'll have a unique perspective.
    I've never thought of PotO as a mystery, honestly. Not by my modern definition of mystery at least. Leroux's other books may have been crime-mystery, but remember that authors didn't have to jacket themselves into a single genre before the middle of the 20th Century and could write whatever they pleased each book.

    Did that essay give a clue what the mystery was supposed to be? I'm honestly befuddled.

    Quote Originally Posted by bkendall View Post
    I never could sit through the movie made recently and have never been to the play, although I hear it is good.
    The thing to remember about the Weber interpretation is just that--it's an interpretation. He took the basics and retold it for a modern audience, with all the updates needed to bring the same basic story to new morals and expectations. Having seen the musical in both its forms, I'd say he did a great job of it.

    I've also seen (and I think own) every other movie of the story ever made. It's really a fairly broad spectrum of where they put the emphasis, which is fascinating to me.

    Every time someone makes a movie or play out of a book, they have to reinterpret the story for the new medium and, in the case of the classics, a different set of morals and expectations from the modern audience. I truly think that one of the strengths of PotO is that it has be so translated successfully time and time and time again. That's pretty amazing.
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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW bkendall's Avatar
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    I was so inspired last night, I actually ordered the book. Found it for pretty cheap too. I should get it in about a week so I'll try to add to the discussion when I get into it.
    It's ok. Just call me bk.

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  12. #12
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    Cool beans, BK! I might dig up my copy and reread it. It's been a few years since I last read it.
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  13. #13
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    For those of you who can't wait, you can download electronic copies of the book for free. I'm pretty sure you can get it on the Goodreads page.

    Deleyan, the mystery of the novel was how the legends of the opera ghost connected to the murder of Phillip Chagny. Later, it's more about Rauol trying to figure out what's going on with Christine and her "secret lover." I can definitely see how it was a crime mystery at first, but I think Leroux lost that somewhere in the book and dove into the relationship between Erik and Christine, so it starts to read like something else. Not like a romance, because there was no romantic love between the two of them. It read like something else entirely.
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    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    I just found something cool. Erik (the phantom) is one of my favorite characters in all of literature because he's just so freakin' cool. The book only talks about his life in snippets and you have to fill in a lot of blanks, so it can be hard to follow. Absolute Astronomy has this summary about him:

    The Phantom is probably the most fascinating character in all of literature. The book only mentions his history in snippets. Here's his story all together:


    Born hideously deformed, Erik is a "subject of horror" for his family and as a result, he runs away and falls in with a band of Gypsies, making his living as an attraction in freak shows, where he is known as "the living dead". Erik becomes a great illusionist, magician and ventriloquist.


    His reputation for these skills and his unearthly singing voice spreads quickly, and one day a fur the Shah brings Erik to his palace. He commissions Erik, who proves himself a gifted architect, to construct a palace, Mazenderan. It’s designed with so many trap doors and secret rooms that not even the slightest whisper is private. Erik is also a political assassin.


    The Shah, pleased with Erik's work and determined that no one else should have such a palace, orders Erik's execution. Erik escapes.


    By this time Erik wants to live like everybody else. He helps with the construction of the Paris Opéra House. During the construction he is able to make a sort of playground for himself, creating trapdoors and secret passageways. He even builds a house in the cellars of the Opera where he could live far from man's cruelty.


    Isn't that awesome?
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  15. #15
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    I take it you haven't heard of the book by Susan Kay about Erik's life prior to PotO, eh?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_(novel)
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  16. #16
    Stand in the Place Where You Live KTC's Avatar
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    Wow! So awesome! I reread this book 2 time over the past winter! I just love it!
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  17. #17
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    Deleyan Lee: I have heard of it, actually, and I started to read it. I absolutely loved the part with his mother. I wasn't a huge fan of the stuff between that and going to work for the Shaw. I eventually stopped reading it because I saw she re-told the part at the opera house with Christine, and I think rewriting another author's work is inappropriate. Besides, Leroux nailed it, so why would I want to read someone else's interpretation? Then I heard that Christine and Erik had sex, which I felt destroyed the whole point of the story. (I write about why here: http://teralynpilgrim.blogspot.com/2...tter-than.html ) Then to worst part of all: Christine slept with him before her wedding with Raoul and lied about the father of her child, which let's face it: that makes her a slut. It was a fantastic idea for a book, but I hated it.
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  18. #18
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    I wasn't thrilled with it either, but some people liked it.

    And, honestly, I don't think lying about the parentage of her child would make Christine a slut. Raoul knew she'd been with Erik and if he thought they had a platonic relationship, the problem is his, not hers. Any man who marries a woman who just got out of a relationship runs the risk of being the legal father of a child not his. Honestly, it's to the woman's best interest for her child not to upset that cart if another man's willing to do the work. Back in that day and age, it would've been the only choice a woman had.

    I just can't demean her for it.

    But, then, it's possible you and I have different definitions of "slut". I don't think it's such a horrible thing.
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  19. #19
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    I agree with you completely, but that doesn't change the fact that she slept with two men so close together, and that's what bothered me. But I have high standards, so I don't fault anyone for not faulting her.
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  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW bkendall's Avatar
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    just picked it up today and will be reading soon. finishing up challenge for western so after tomorrow look for thoughts. let the discussion begin!
    It's ok. Just call me bk.

    Don't confuse me with facts, my mind's already made up!-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  21. #21
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    Check it out; I just found an article in the New York Times about the chandelier falling in the Paris Opera house: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive...609C94679ED7CF
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  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW bkendall's Avatar
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    I just read the first chapter. Now, the book I bought had a foreward in the beginning by Leroux. This made me think that the narrator was designed to be Leroux himself. If that's so, it has taken me out of the story a little bit. If Leroux wanted to present this as a true story, it almost takes away any possibility for metaphors and the like. I like it because it is so different than anything I've read before.
    It's ok. Just call me bk.

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  23. #23
    Writing Anarchist DeleyanLee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rosepetal720 View Post
    I agree with you completely, but that doesn't change the fact that she slept with two men so close together, and that's what bothered me. But I have high standards, so I don't fault anyone for not faulting her.
    But that's also not in Leroux's book. No reason to get upset at all.
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  24. #24
    Let the wild rumpus start! rosepetal720's Avatar
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    I'm reading the book out loud to my husband, and we're at the part when Raoul is angry because he doesn't know who Erik is yet so he doesn't understand why she's acting the way she is. My husband is getting shockingly angry at Christine. He said she strings Raoul along, she's a menace, and she belongs in a padded room.

    I disagree completely. I was much more angry at Raoul. She tells him multiple times they need to stop seeing each other, but he continues to follow her. He even spies on her in her dressing room... twice! It's no business of his whether or not she rides with men at night, but he acts like he has a right to her.

    I love the part when she tells him off and says only her husband can talk to her that way. The girl's got spunk.
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