The Creative Art of Historical Fiction

The Phantom of the Opera

Photo by Ishtiaq Ahmed

I love it when authors do clever, creative things in their books. Les Miserables adds true information about wars and culture during the temporal setting of the book. For me historical fiction is a beautiful way to make history stick in my brain. Gaston Leroux, author of The Phantom of the Opera novel brought history into his story in a innovative way. He assimilated an existing opera, Faust within a his fictional opera where Christine becomes the lead singer.

Faust, is a grand opera in five acts by Charles Gounod loosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, Part 1.
Watch this short clip to see a few parallels between Faust, the opera and The Phantom of the Opera.

Leroux published The Phantom of the Opera in 1909. The story is set from 1849-1919. I think it’s pretty clever of him to use a popular opera of the time to tell his “opera” story or am I just esily amused? Maybe, but I read the book without knowing this the first time around. Now that I see the connection the story has more depth and maybe seems more real to me. Also, there is evidence that suggests that Leroux believed the whole story was real, that there was a real ghost that lived under the opera house. What do you think?

How does this writing technique affect your reading experience?

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Want Help Starting Your Book Club? Read This Post.

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