Thursday, December 19, 2013
The Phantom of the Opera: 71% Complete
I'm almost to the three-fourths mark in The Phantom of the Opera and I'm still enjoying it. One thing I particularly like is how Leroux often breaks down the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience which adds to his attempt to present the story as an actual non-fiction history of what happened. This is something that's rather rare in literature and I enjoy it.
All the way through this book there are references to the Labyrinthine underground levels of the Paris opera house. I love the idea of mostly forgotten people wandering around in the annals of the earth. I don't know (perhaps some of you do!) how realistic this is, or if there actually are subterranean levels of the opera house, but I enjoy the descriptions. Here is one paragraph that I particularly enjoyed with regards to the necessary but unglamorous jobs in the lower levels of the opera house:
"They were the door-shutters, the old, worn-out scene-shifters, on whom a charitable management had taken pity, giving them the job of shutting doors above and below the stage. They went about incessantly, from top to bottom of the building, shutting the doors; and they were also called 'the draft-expellers,' at least at that time, for I have little doubt that by now they are all dead. Drafts are very bad for the voice, wherever they may come from."
At the end of the previous paragraph there is a footnote which reads, "M. Pedro Gailhard has himself told me that he created a few additional posts as door-shutters for old stage-carpenters whom he was unwilling to dismiss from the service of the Opera."
The word of the day is "astrakhan" which is "the dark curly fleece of a young karakul lambs from central Asia" (definition from The New Oxford American Dictionary). In the book there is a Persian who wears a astrakhan hat. At one point Leroux points out that, "It was an infringement of the rule which insists upon the tall hat behind the scenes; but in France foreigners are allowed every license: the Englishman his traveling-cap, the Persian his cap of astrakhan."
Less than a week left to enter my holiday giveaway for an illustrated copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens!