Friday, July 3, 2015

Literature Review #13: Discovering a Legend

When Gaston Leroux wrote "The Phantom of the Opera," he had penned a magnificent love story doubling as a horror tale.  We gasp at the beautiful Christine's journey to fame and her relationship with a specter of mystery and peril.  The beauty of her work, contrasted with a pit of darkness only enhances Christine's journey.  Perhaps Mr. Leroux would cringe at any attempt to de-emphasize the horror in his work.  He knew that in all the metaphors contained in Revelation....the real fires of Hell are lit by man's eternal separation from God.  Fay E. Simon has written a fictional story exploring Mr. Leroux's inspiration in writing "The Phantom of the Opera."  In "Discovering a Legend," Ms. Simon presents a plausible course of action Leroux may have embarked on in researching "The Phantom of the Opera."  Let us explore "Discovering a Legend."
As all great stories, "The Phantom of the Opera" is based on some truth.  Hence Mr.Leroux researches the legends of the Paris Opera House in order to come to an understanding of a great unfinished love story.  Putting on his detective hat, Leroux combs police reports and is able to track down Christine..the object of the Phantom's desire.  His subsequent interviews with the tortured soul (now an elderly woman) pulls the reader into deep thought.  With a pure heart, many years previous, Christine's prayers were answered...but not how she figured they would be.  The Angel of Music intervened in her life.  One must be guarded in their prayers, as many times these answers to prayers can be frightening.  Is Christine a victim of the Phantom?  In Ms. Simon's story, Christine is a victim....but not of the Phantom.  
In this story, Leroux will interview not only Christine but also her estranged husband and other fascinating characters who have guilty knowledge of the Phantom.  The discussions are heartbreaking as Ms. Simon allows us a glimpse into the tortured soul of a man forever separated from God.  The beauty which he has mastered (music) and has been delivered to him (Christine) fails to deliver any type of he not only has been separated from God, but has willingly rejected Him. However much a villain the Phantom may seem, Ms. Simon's tale also emphasizes grace and forgiveness.  With those two virtues in mind, perhaps everyone of us is a villain to some extent.  Don't dark as this story may seem ( does human existence, on occasion), Ms. Simon delivers hope.  With all the angst inflicted on our tortured Phantom, is forgiveness possible? A great question, not easily answered...especially when applied to our own lives.
 No spoilers here, but I will say Leroux's investigation has an ultimate goal of finding the Phantom.  The assumption is that the Phantom died...but did he?  In addition to the Phantom's fate, just as important to the reader is Christine's fate.  Will she ultimately come to terms with her past, and in some way find redemption for her ultimate rejection of the Angel of Music?  Read "Discovering a Legend" to find out, but be warned....Ms. Simon has a journey for you to embark on before the questions are answered.  One final note, my good friend, Berk Balkac, who happens to be the most dynamic comic book artist around, created the three illustrations above (see more of him at ).
You can read this story at:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for lovely review. Happy you enjoyed it. Heart of Darkness is the sequel.