In This Labyrinth: The Phantom of the Opera In Erik's Times and Ours

Phanship meets Queer-Crip intersectionality nerding!

Show notes for Episode 2 - Poor, Unhappy Erik: POTO and the Trouble With Normal part 1.

References on the history and development of “normal”:

Davis, Lennard J. (1995) Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body. Verso books.

Davis, Lennard J. “Bodies of Difference: Politics, Disability, and Representation”. In Snyder, Sharon L, Brenda Jo Brueggeman and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson eds. (2002) Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. Modern Language Association of America, New York. pp 100-106

Quotes from and references for Leroux:

Perry, George. (1987) The Complete Phantom of the Opera . London: Pavilion Books Limited.
For some brief background on Gaston Leroux and the publication of the original novel.

Leroux, Gaston. (1911, 1988) The Phantom of the Opera. Alexander Damatos trans. Unicorn Publishing House.

Quotes expressing or referencing Erik’s desire for “normalcy” but inability to ever attain it:

“I can’t go on living like this - like a mole in a burrow. … and now I want to live like everybody else. I want to have a wife like everybody else, and take her out on Sundays. I have invented a mask that makes me look like anybody. People will not even turn around in the streets.” (Leroux/Damatos chapter 22).

“… but I am very tired of it. I’m sick and tired … of living like a mountebank in a house with a false bottom. … I want to have a nice, quiet flat, with ordinary doors and windows, and a wife inside it like anybody else.” (Leroux/Damatos chapter 23)

“Then, (after having had to flee from Persia and the Ottoman empire because he knew too much) tired of his adventurous, formidable and monstrous life, he longed to be some one like everybody else. And he became a contractor, like any ordinary contractor, building ordinary houses with ordinary bricks.” (Leroux/Damatos Epilogue).

“When he found himself in the cellars of the enormous playhouse (the opera house which his contracting business had helped build), his artistic, fantastic, wizard nature resumed the upper hand. Besides, was he not as ugly as ever? He dreamed of creating, for his own use, a dwelling unknown to the rest of the earth where he could hide from men’s eyes for all time.” (Leroux/Damatos epilogue).

“Poor, unhappy Erik. Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be some one like everybody else. But he was too ugly, and he had to hide his genius, or use it to play tricks with. When, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind. He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world. And in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Oh yes, we must needs pity the Opera Ghost.” (Leroux/Damatos epilogue).

Descriptions of Erik’s house on the lake:

Christine describes Erik’s drawing-room as “…quite as common-place as any that, at least, had the excuse of not being in the cellars of the Opera.” (Leroux/Damatos chapter 12)

Christine’s description of Erik’s bedroom “I felt as though I were entering the room of a dead person. The walls were all hung with black. But instead of the white trimmings which usually set off that funereal upholstery, there was an enormous stave of music with the notes of the Dies Ire many times repeated. In the middle of the room was a canopy from which hung curtains of red, brocaded stuff. And under the canopy, an open coffin.” (Leroux/Damatos chapter 12)

“… the precision of the details of that quiet little middle-class room seemed to have been invented for the express purpose of puzzling the mind of the mortal rash enough to stray into that abode of living nightmare - The wooden bedstead, the waxed mahogany chairs, the chest of drawers, those brasses, the little, square antimacassars carefully placed on the back of the chairs, the clock on the mantlepiece, and the harmless looking little ebony caskets at either end, lastly, the whatnot filled with shells, with red pincushions, with mother-of-pearl boats, and an enormous ostrich egg, the whole discretely lighted by a shaded lamp standing on a small, round table. This collection of ugly, peaceable, reasonable furniture at the bottom of the opera cellars bewildered the imagination more than all the late fantastic happenings. And the figure of the masked man seemed all the more formidable in this old-fashioned, neat and trim little frame.” (Leroux/Damatos chapter 26)

Quotes emphasizing Erik’s experience of exclusion as the source of his “madness”:

“He ran away at an early age from his father’s house where his ugliness was a subject of horror and terror to his parents.” (Leroux/Damatos Epilogue)

“Why did you want to see me? Oh, mad Christine, who wanted to see me when my own father never saw me! And when my mother, so as not to see me, made me a present of my first mask” (Leroux/Damatos chapter 12).

“My mother, Daroga, my poor, unhappy mother would never let me kiss her. She used to run away and throw me my mask. Nor any other woman, ever, ever!” (Leroux/Damatos chapter 26)

“His horrible, unparalleled and repulsive ugliness put him without the pale of humanity. And it often seemed to me that, for this reason, he no longer believed that he had any duty toward the human race.” (Leroux/Damatos chapter 21)

(“without the pale” being an expression meaning outside/beyond the boundaries in case anyone’s unfamiliar with that.)

“Thinking himself without the pale of humanity, he (Erik) was restrained by no scruples.” (Leroux/Damatos Epilogue)

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