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A Phantom of the Opera Reading Community
Discussion Post 7 
13th-Jul-2007 03:27 pm
a2a rabbit hole
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Summary for Chapter Twelve:

I'm sorry to say I accidentally deleted this post.
13th-Jul-2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
I will address why I have, through the years, been labeled a traitor for views of Erik's nationality. Bottom line this stems research into the man who crafted the novel, not the character himself. However Leroux does say Erik was born in Rouen, which would make him nationally French--but Leroux does not give us a parental bloodline. In so far as I have found.

But we are not come at it from this angle.

First, the name Erik is of Germanic origin. Christine even asks if the "name of Erik does not point to Scandinavian origin". The choice of wine is a Tokay which "he himself brought from the cellars of Koensingburg," further hinting Leroux's route with this element of his novel.

Leroux's most famous villains (and Erik was viewed as a villain or ant-hero) were all German in his novels. His most famous being that of Ballmeyer an EXTREMELY German character. Ballmeyer and Erik display frightening similarities: murder, hidden passages, tricks, an obsession with genius and disguise…

Much in Leroux's novel echoed the anti Germanic sentiment that was still prevalent in Paris in him in a setting that for many years was very ANTI Germanic. The Paris Opera House did not host a German opera until 1890. Leroux's commentary of the opera manager M. Richard as the "sole person who has any comprehension of Wagner..." makes him a comical figure in the eyes of Parisian society at the time of its printing.

Leroux goes further into rooting Erik as a German/Germanic and portrays France's anti German sentiment in the novel as a whole. Much of Leroux's Phantom was gleaned in part from Svengali and Austrian Jew who captures the love of an opera singer by transfixing her and molding her into a work of public musical admiration. This from George Du Maurier's novel Trilby.

Overall Leroux wanted to create Erik as the foreigner among Frenchmen, in the same way he wanted a parallel between Raoul as the sexless virgin, yet leading male. Leroux wanted to craft Erik as the nationless character while still rooting him in a view that he knew many would still recognize as a villain. Germans and Germany were very important to Leroux in his novels. It does not surprise me that Erik has indication of a nationality that is not French.

The novel was also written at a time when Oriental thought was popular—echoed in the Persian, certain décor, even Erik as the Moor of Venice and his “yellow skin”

Who is to say what nationality Erik was? This element of Leroux however is why I chose to make my heroine in my trilogy continuing Phantom an Austrian. It is a shout out to Leroux.

And to all--I have long agreed with Stef ideas of the Stockholm Syndrom... it is a VERY powerful and plausible element in Leroux's novel

17th-Jul-2007 05:59 am (UTC)
I heard of people's theories that Erik is very oriental, but never that he is of German descent. Your references are interesting though of how "anti-German" France was at that time. I'm not however, convinced. I have thought that the reference to Tokay wine might be another allusion to Stoker's Dracula. As he also makes Erik's bed a coffin much like Count Dracula.
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