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The Phantom of the Opera

  • 30
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  • United States
  • English

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Gaston Leroux's novel The Phantom of the Opera, first published in 1910, remained a perennial favorite throughout the twentieth century and into the millenium. It was adapted to several popular motion pictures and into one of the most successful stage musicals of all time. Its main character, Erik, is a romantic figure and sensitive soul whose appeal reaches across different cultures and times. He is an accomplished composer and musician whose great unfinished work, Don Juan Triumphant, is described as breathtakingly beautiful by the one person he allows to hear it. Erik is an object of pity, whose face has been disfigured from birth, causing him to hide behind a silk mask; and he is hopelessly in love with a young woman. He can never seriously hope she will love him back.

Gaston Leroux was born on May 6, 1868 in Paris, but was brought up in Normandy where he went to the College of Eu. While attending law school in Paris, his short stories and poetry were published in Left Bank magazines. He gave up law after three years to work for a local paper. It was when he was working for the daily newspaper, Le Martin, that he gained fame for interviewing celebrities. From there he travelled to Asia, Europe, Africa and Russia, often in disguise, to get to leads for stories, and soon became a celebrity himself. In 1907, he decided to become a full-time novelist. In 1919, he formed a film company in Nice, where he had settled in 1908. His final home was in Rue Gambetta, where he died unexpectedly of uremia on April 15, 1927.
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