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Why more people should read the book

  • Jun 27, 2010
Rating:
+5
(Mild spoilers ahead)

"I am the little boy who went into the sea to rescue your scarf," Raoul de Chagny explains to Christine Daaé when they meet again after many long years. She laughs at him for this, but the root of her laughter is more complex than one might think.

Perhaps that's why I tend to favor the original novel version by Gaston Leroux over any other.
Don't get me wrong: I adore the 2004 movie as much as the next fan does. It's just that, once I read the book, no other version I had seen could quite compare.

As with anything else, the book version allows for more depth, more development than a film version could, if for no other reason than simple lack of time. The detail in the book is not only more extensive, however, but of a different nature altogether. While the 2004 film version emphasizes the Phantom's humanity -- which is ironic, since the novel version names him (Erik) while this film version does not -- the novel places the emphasis on his madness. Erik's background is fleshed out a good deal more, and the reader understands how he was driven into his insanity and inhumanity, but ultimately, one must also accept the fact that he is the antagonist in every way imaginable. The 2004 film makes its Phantom slightly deformed and downright abused; the novel's Erik, though, is severely deformed and severely unloved, without so much physical abuse. 

In addition to the differences between the two versions' Phantoms, there is also greater depth to Raoul's and Christine's characters within the novel. Their relationship is a little more thoroughly explored. They have a clearly defined past, and that past clearly gives root to their present affections (a sort of, "I loved you then, I love you now" deal). Moreover, the Raoul of the novel is more lovable because he's more, well, human. He's young, he's foolish, and he's head over heals in love. He struggles to believe in Christine at times -- who wouldn't, since she's so very elusive when it comes to telling him the truth -- but his love for her always wins out, and it is made perfectly clear that he would gladly sacrifice whatever he must for her sake. He's emotional, a bit hot-headed, and absolutely grand because of it.

As for Christine...well, Christine is still Christine. There are still slight differences in interpretation. In both the 2004 film and the original novel, naivety and grief at the loss of her father trigger her infatuation with the Phantom. In the film, it carries her about halfway through, and a strange, almost supernatural draw to the Phantom carries her the rest of the way. In the novel, her naivety starts things, but her kindness is what prolongs the trouble. She doesn't want to hurt anyone, if she can help it, it seems. Her secrecy is a result of an overabundance of kindness. Her kidnapping is due to her overabundance of kindness. And her salvation, ultimately, is (guess what) due to her overabundance of kindness.

While each version of Phantom of the Opera contains its own pluses and minuses, the richness of the characters in the novel makes it my favorite version (along with one of my favorite books). It's truly a shame that it is so overlooked and unknown. If you've yet to read it, then I encourage you to give it a try! You don't know what you're missing.

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More The Phantom of the Opera (book... reviews
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
Oddly poetic, disturbingly thought provokingj. Wonderful as a live performance, written work, or on the big screen. A must for fans of music, theater, drama, or odd characters
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
didnt read the book...loved the plays.....and i never saw the movie.
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
WARNING: the novel is nothing like the musical! It is, however, artfully written from the perspectives of multiple characters with all of the same intrigue, mystery, and danger you expect from the popular stage adaptation.
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
Just as good as the musical. I love the descriptions of the underground opera house.
Quick Tip by . July 07, 2010
Engrossing, enthralling, suspenseful, and allows varied perspectives as touched upon below. Psychologically important and interesting in addition to a great love story.
review by . June 30, 2010
This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys the play or the movie. I read it after seeing the Broadway production (way before the movie) and was highly surprised. Where in the book and even in the play you could feel for the Phantom and sympathize with his character, the book shows his true side which is more psychopathic, blood thirsty, and madly intellectual. At first I didn't want to continue reading it (I'm a fan of Eric so I was a little disappointed) but I'm glad I did. The …
Quick Tip by . June 30, 2010
good movie
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2010
Definitely a good read! It's a fair bit different from the movie and stage versions, but I tend to like it best, even though it's the least known version. The story is captivating all the way through, once you get over the fact that it may not be the same "Phantom" you know.
review by . November 03, 2006
I bought this book after seeing the broadway show a few times and watching the movies.  The book to me was all over the place in focus. Drifting back and forth. Raoul is such a winy wimp in the book and Christine is almost evil in the way she treats both the Phantom and Raoul.  The only thing I can say is that if you are a fan of the broadway show or the movies, this book clears up some questions and details that you miss in the show and movies.  All in all it's a great …
review by . June 13, 2006
Pros: Very satisfying to read the original     Cons: Can become a bit muddled     The Bottom Line: He's not Gerard Butler, that's for sure.     My grandparents were set on buying me clothes for a graduation present. I don’t need clothes. What did I do? Convince them to take me to my happy place, Barnes & Noble, where I bought two books (the third wasn’t there – sad). This was one of them. I’d been curious for some time about …
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Caitlynn ()
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Member Since: Jun 24, 2010
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About this book

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The novel that inspired the Lon Chaney film and the hit musical. "The wildest and most fantastic of tales."--New York Times Book Review.
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Details

ISBN-10: 0060809248
ISBN-13: 978-0060809249
Author: Gaston Leroux
Publisher: Harper Perennial

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