I'm sure this blog won't be as amusing as Blogging the Bible (in fact, I can probably guarantee that). It'll probably be a lot of ranting about Leroux's style. I got as far as Chapter 5 the last time I tried to read that, but since that was months and months ago, I'll have to start over. That of course means I'll be revisiting some of the same rants as the last time I tried reading this book.
I'll include links to the online version, in case anyone wants to read along with me.
Prologue: In Which the Author of This Singular Work Informs the Reader How He Acquired the Certainty That the Opera Ghost Really Existed
Between that very wordy title and the first sentence of the book ("The Opera ghost really existed."), Leroux starts off trying to convince the reader that this novel is, in fact, not a novel but a historical account. Hysterical is more like it if he expects me to buy that.
Trying to pass fiction off as fact didn't end with Leroux (and I don't mean Frey and his "memoirs"). Stephanie Barron claims in the beginning of her first Jane Austen Mystery that she found Austen's letters about the event.
I guess these authors are saying, "Look, we know these events didn't happen. You know these events didn't happen. But, wouldn't it be awesome if they had?"
Back to the Phantom. Leroux continues to not only insist that the Phantom was real, but everything and everyone connected to him was real. He acts as if the story of the Phantom of the Opera was a real mystery still floating around early 1900s Paris, and that the Phantom's plot unfolded thirty years before.
What kind of author spoils his book's main plot points in the prologue? "(T)he kidnapping of Christine Daae, the disappearance of the Vicomte de Chagny and the death of his elder brother, Count Philippe, whose body was found on the bank of the lake that exists in the lower cellars of the Opera..." I guess this is a literary teaser, something to get people to read the rest of the book.
He keeps mentioning himself and his effort to write the book. Excuse me, find out "the truth." Look, Leroux, if I wanted your life's story, I'd read your autobiography. This book isn't about you, so leave yourself out of it.
If he were a fanfic writer and I were his beta, I'd tell him to take out this entire prologue. It's both pointless and heavy-handed. It's like he's repeatedly hitting you over the head with the book, at the same time yelling, "This *bam* really *bam* happened! *bam*"
Now he's saying he's met with people from the story thirty years after it'd supposedly happened. As I understand it, Leroux was a journalist before he became a (hack) novelist. He was used to having the public's trust, so naturally he'd do everything he could to get them to believe this, his first novel. "This *bam* really *bam* happened! *bam*"
(You know, I think Plotz is having much more fun with the Bible than I am with The Phantom of the Opera. Go fig.)
Oh God, it's attack of the Blank! Anyone who has ever read one of Jane Austen's novels is familiar with the Blank. It's used in place of a name. Austen used it for the names of towns and parishes. Leroux's using it for the name of a person. He calls this guy General D-------. *gags* As if he's not making the guy's name up anyway.
Leroux even claims to have found Erik's corpse. Neat trick, finding the dead body of someone who had never lived. "This *bam* really *bam* happened! *bam*"
He says the adult Meg is now Mme. la Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac. I assume "Baronne" is the same as Baroness. Does anyone else think Meg's title carries a whiff of Mary Sueism?
This is great -- he thanks the characters that he created in helping him put together the novel. Lord... "This *bam* really *bam* happened! *bam*"
Finally, he signs this letter to the readers. M. Leroux, you can have the letter back.