The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LerouxThe Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Phantom of the Opera

byGaston LerouxTranslated byLowell Bair

Mass Market Paperback | January 1, 1990

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Gaston Leroux is one of the originators of the detective story, and The Phantom of the Opera is his tour de force, as well as being the basis for the hit Broadway musical. A superb suspense story and a dark tale of obsession, The Phantom of the Opera has thrilled and entertained audiences in adaptations throughout the century.

This new translation—the first completely modern and Americanized translation—unfurls the full impact of this classic thriller for modern readers. It offers a more complete rendering of the terrifying figure who emerges from the depths of the glorious Paris Opera House to take us into the darkest regions of the human heart. After the breathtaking performance of the lovely Christine Daae and her sudden disappearance, the old legend of the “opera ghost” becomes a horrifying reality as the ghost strikes out with increasing frequency and violence—always with the young singer at the center of his powerful obsession. Leroux has created a masterwork of love and murder—and a tragic figure who awakens our deepest and most forbidden fears.

This is the only complete, unabridged modern Americanized translation available. Lowell Bair is the acclaimed translator of such Bantam Classics as Madame Bovary, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Candide.
Gaston Leroux, French journalist and writer of suspense fiction, was born in Paris in 1868. His experiences as a crime reporter and war correspondent for a French newspaper gave him the background to create his popular novels. He was one of the originators of the detective story, and his young fictional detective, Joseph Rouletabile,...
Title:The Phantom of the OperaFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 6.85 × 4.15 × 0.78 inPublished:January 1, 1990Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553213768

ISBN - 13:9780553213768

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from dang I really enjoyed it a great classic & a must have/read for the fans it goes into more detail & backstory & that's always a good thing despite some peculiar retconned characters is everyone along with Erik below the theater eccentric as heck? lol (no seriously The Rat Catcher dude was so sudden & bizarre)
Date published: 2017-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great book A great book for a great price. First saw Webber's musical adaptation and have finally now bought the original book for reading.
Date published: 2017-08-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not liked it To be honest, it was really slow so I did not enjoyed as others did or at all.
Date published: 2017-08-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 3.5 Stars (Rounded To Four) I enjoyed this novel, but I didn't love it as much as I was expecting. I liked the old-fashioned feel of the writing and author's voice; I love to sit down with a good classic every now and then. But the story itself left something to be desired for me. Raoul drove me nuts; Christine was flighty and indecisive; and the Phantom himself - whom I expected to be a romantic villain - was nothing short of a murderous madman. I do have plans to watch Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation, and I'm hoping to enjoy the cinematic version more than the written tome. That being said, this book is still a classic, and one I think many readers would enjoy for one reason or another.
Date published: 2017-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A classic I love this book! I got into the Phantom of the Opera by watching Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical and I thought I haveto read this book. I could not put it down. It is a fantastic book!
Date published: 2017-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Much more in-depth than the movie.
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Much more in-depth than the movie.
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed this book I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the differences between the book and movie. Both are captivating.
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from :/ Was really not a fan. Found it boring...
Date published: 2017-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Still the best This novel has everything your could ask for: horror, suspense, romance, etc. As great as the play and movies are, nothing will beat the book
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from intriguing but sad This is actually the first time where I've watched the movie first and then read the book. I enjoyed the book a lot although the movie was quite different. At the end, I felt sorry for phantom. All he wanted in life was to be loved, and not having someone dreading his ugliness. Christine managed to light up his darkened world. And he gave up everything in the end. It was sad but touchy!
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Where it all began I read this book before watching the musical and the movie, and I have to say that despite the musical being amazing, I still tend to drift back to the original. The tale is captivating and picks up slowly (the first few chapters might take a while to get into), but the characters evoke so much emotion and make for a fabulous read. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite story Phantom of the opera is one of my favourite stories. I love how the book you get to find out so much detail about the phantom and his story
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Classic French book I loved this book! If you like one of the many movies or the musical I would definitely recommend this book to you.
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from So Ridiculous I've never seen "Phantom of the Opera", or any sort of rendition of it. The closest I'd ever come was watching "Flying Rhino Junior High" as a kid, where the villian lived in the boiler room of the junior high, snuck around through trapdoors and secret passages, and played an organ. So I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. When I sat down in my living room to read this book, my mum saw what I was reading and scoffed. "I hate that book," she said. "It's just really stupid." I think I can see where my mum was coming from. This book was one big bemusing, befuddling, annoying piece of literature. In some ways, I can see the appeal. There were certainly a lot of thrills and melodramatic moments. In a lot of ways, I enjoyed reading it. I'm not a super big fan of the Gothic Romance genre - Wuthering Hieghts was nearly flung at a wall when I first read it - but this one was just so absolutely ridiculous that you had to either shrug and enjoy it a little or burn your eyes out. I mean, it was just so melodramatic. Everything that happened was this BIG, MYSTERIOUS EVENT. Ladies swooned left and right, pistols were drawn but never fired, portents of DEATH and DOOM were seen at every turn, words like "ecstasy" and "agony" were thrown about with reckless abandon, and commonplace things were turned into soul-chilling spectres for no apparent reason. It was like drowning in a sea of jealousy and "love" and dark mysteries. By far the most annoying part of this book was the Phantom himself. I think we as readers are supposed to be horrified by him, or pity him, or something, but mainly he was just annoying. Everything he did, I couldn't help but view with the same contempt you feel watching a child throw a ridiculous tantrum. That's pretty much what he was, a big child throwing a tantrum. He gnashed his teeth and rolled around on the floor - I think at one point, after throwing a huge tantrum over Christine removing his mask, he threw himself to the ground, rolled around, and then "slithered from the room like a snake." I rolled my eyes, hardcore. A lot of the other characters were annoying, too. Raol leapt from conclusion to conclusion and was fairly useless in the long run. I'm not sure what we were supposed to like or find attractive in him, as a hero. Christine, I feel like if we knew a bit more about what was going on, could have been a better character, but all of her contradictions and swooning all over the place was a bit over the top. The only character I really liked was the Persian, and he didn't show up until the final hundred pages or so. All in all, a very melodramatic book. If you can stomach that sort of thing, or if , for some reason, you're into it, then this book is definitely for you. I just feel like I have to go cleanse my palette with something dry and religious, or something of the sort.
Date published: 2016-12-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great to See Where the Story Began This book was a hard read because the beginning was slow and uninteresting to me. I also didn't like the case study format of this novel even though I know it's part of the Gothic Horror genre; it was jarring to have the author butt in at times, and it ruined the story for me in many places. Were the author/narrator not constantly tell me that the Phantom was definitely real and this story was based off true events, I think it would've been better. It wasn't until near the end where Daeé talks with Raoul on the roof and tells him about the Opera Ghost that things finally started to pique my interest. His adventure with the Persian is exciting to read through - especially when we learn about Erik's past - and the end was aesthetically pleasing, satisfactorily solving everything. It is different from the movie and the musical, and it's unfortunate because I feel like my perception of the book is tainted by my having seen them before (perhaps because of the music). I still did enjoy the book when things started to get heated, though, and if I judge it separately from the movie it was still a worthwhile read. I was disappointed throughout a lot of it, though, but the ending was exciting enough for the book to retain readability. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from From a Great Novel to a Musical Phenomenon I read this book after I saw the musical production in New York City this past summer. This book is the predecessor of Broadway's longest running musical. This novel was absolutely fantastic! I plan to re-read it again! It has many genres within it. It's scary, creepy, romantic, sweet, sexy, dark, sad, depressing, etc. I would recommend to anyone. It truly is great read.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting I found this book a little hard to read because of the french that was in it, but I still found it to be a good read.I love, how it is a love story about muisc, and how a man falls in love with a new rising opera star, which who has a mentor, that is also in love with her, which happens to be a ghost. In the end he realizes he can not have her and let's her go back to her real life, as he disappears before an angry mob hunts the phantom down. The story is so great I love it. If you are into a good love story that has everything in it you will love this book just as much as I did, I recommend this book.
Date published: 2010-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Book I think this book is as good as the movie/play! I enjoyed reading it and you definitley had more details about Eric than in the movie/play. If you like the movie, you should read this!
Date published: 2008-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All time favorite story There is no suprise that the Phantom of the Opera is considered a classic. This story has inspired me in many different ways. Gaston Leroux wrote a breath taking tale of hatred, love and jealousy (to the point of obsession) which are the key ingredients of French literature. This story has three main characters: Christine, Raoul and Erik. My favorite character without a doubt is Erik (the opera ghost). He is a very complex character that fills the reader with pity, anger, compassion and many more emotions. I think the reason the world fell in love with this deformed “monster” is because he represents what most people feel. Everyone wants to be loved for who they are. Ever since his birth, Erik was cast aside because of his deformed face and called a monster when he really he was just like any other person except with an incredible talent for music. Because of the trials he had to go through Erik because a violent and angry person causing people to hate him even more. This is a beautifully written story that will convince you that the Opera Ghost really did exist. I also strongly recommend the musical (Andrew Lloyd Webber is a genius!) and the movie were the phantom is very well portrayed by Gerard Butler. The Phantom of the Opera is one of greatest story ever written.
Date published: 2008-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ?? I have seen the 2004 movie. And I just LOVED IT! I was hoping to get this book aswell. Is there any relation, because sometimes the books are completely different from the movies. Like harry potter :P plz s.a.m.
Date published: 2008-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unexpected compliment to the musical I finally got around to reading Gaston Leroux's version of this cult classic, and was pleasently surprised by how different the two storylines are, yet they still retain the same essential spirit of romance, intrigue, and suspence.
Date published: 2006-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing, Haunting, and Mysterious! This is one of the best books I've ever read and I love the beauty and the beast theme it contains! Gaston has done a marvelous job at piecing together this great mystery, seeing that he worked as a newspaper journalist and wrote mystery/crime novels at the same time as his English contemporary, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who wrote the Sherlock Holmes novels). From the prologue and epilogue in the book, I am very convinced that Gaston did write his novel about a real person and events. Gaston mentioned in those sections certain proofs that he discovered for himself around 1911 when he wrote the novel: trap doors and secret passageways, a hollow pillar at box five, a buried skeleton wearing a gold ring, Christine's strange correspondent, the numerous interviews he undertook with people who worked at or attended the opera including Meg and the Persian. All these proofs beg to be tested out by modern science in our time at the real Paris Opera House (today called Opera Garnier), and I both challenge someone in the world to do this to back up these proofs, and would be very happy to find out if Eric really existed indeed in the flesh 100%! After all, the Elephant Man was real!
Date published: 2006-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent Possibly the best novel ever written. The greatest imagination on earth has come up with a gripping adventure of epic proportions.
Date published: 2006-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Greatest book, Play and Movie Gaston Laroux cirtainly outdid him self on this one. Truely THE geratest book ever written by anyone!!!!!! Plu it's been turned into the greatest Play and Movie. Andrew Lloyd Webber rocks and Gerard Butler is the best actor in the world!
Date published: 2005-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Phantom of The Best!!! I have always heard of the Phantom of the Opera, but when I purchased the book, Gaston Leroux has a beautiful rainbow of vocabulary, his words where chosen wisley. This book I can assure to real readers, that is is a definate 1,2,3,4,5 star!!!
Date published: 2001-04-27

Read from the Book

Chapter OneIs It the Ghost? It was the evening on which MM. Debienne and Poligny, the managers of the Opera, were giving a last gala performance to mark their retirement. Suddenly the dressing-room of La Sorelli, one of the principal dancers, was invaded by half-a-dozen young ladies of the ballet, who had come up from the stage after “dancing” Polyeucte. They rushed in amid great confusion, some giving vent to forced and unnatural laughter, others to cries of terror. Sorelli, who wished to be alone for a moment to “run through” the speech which she was to make to the resigning managers, looked around angrily at the mad and tumultuous crowd. It was little Jammes—the girl with the tip-tilted nose, the forget-me-not eyes, the rose-red cheeks and the lily-white neck and shoulders—who gave the explanation in a trembling voice:“It’s the ghost!” And she locked the door.Sorelli’s dressing-room was fitted up with official, commonplace elegance. A pier-glass, a sofa, a dressing-table and a cupboard or two provided the necessary furniture. On the walls hung a few engravings, relics of the mother, who had known the glories of the old Opera in the Rue le Peletier; portraits of Vestris, Gardel, Dupont, Bigottini. But the room seemed a palace to the brats of the corps de ballet, who were lodged in common dressing-rooms where they spent their time singing, quarreling, smacking the dressers and hair-dressers and buying one another glasses of cassis, beer, or even rhum, until the callboy’s bell rang.Sorelli was very suspicious. She shuddered when she heard little Jammes speak of the ghost, called her a “silly little fool” and then, as she was the first to believe in ghosts in general, and the Opera ghost in particular, at once asked for details:“Have you seen him?”“As plainly as I see you now!” said little Jammes, whose legs were giving way beneath her, and she dropped with a moan into a chair.Thereupon little Giry—the girl with eyes black as sloes, hair black as ink, a swarthy complexion and a poor little skin stretched over poor little bones—little Giry added:“If that’s the ghost, he’s very ugly!”“Oh, yes!” cried the chorus of ballet-girls.And they all began to talk together. The ghost had appeared to them in the shape of a gentleman in dress-clothes, who had suddenly stood before them in the passage, without their knowing where he came from. He seemed to have come straight through the wall.“Pooh!” said one of them, who had more or less kept her head. “You see the ghost everywhere!”And it was true. For several months, there had been nothing discussed at the Opera but this ghost in dress-clothes who stalked about the building, from top to bottom, like a shadow, who spoke to nobody, to whom nobody dared speak and who vanished as soon as he was seen, no one knowing how or where. As became a real ghost, he made no noise in walking. People began by laughing and making fun of this specter dressed like a man of fashion or an undertaker; but the ghost legend soon swelled to enormous proportions among the corps de ballet. All the girls pretended to have met this supernatural being more or less often. And those who laughed the loudest were not the most at ease. When he did not show himself, he betrayed his presence or his passing by accident, comic or serious, for which the general superstition held him responsible. Had any one met with a fall, or suffered a practical joke at the hands of one of the other girls, or lost a powderpuff, it was at once the fault of the ghost, of the Opera ghost.After all, who had seen him? You meet so many men in dress-clothes at the Opera who are not ghosts. But this dress-suit had a peculiarity of its own. It covered a skeleton. At least, so the ballet-girls said. And, of course, it had a death’s head.Was all this serious? The truth is that the idea of the skeleton came from the description of the ghost given by Joseph Buquet, the chief scene-shifter, who had really seen the ghost. He had run up against the ghost on the little staircase, by the footlights, which leads to “the cellars.” He had seen him for a second—for the ghost had fled—and to any one who cared to listen to him he said:“He is extraordinarily thin and his dress-coat hangs on a skeleton frame. His eyes are so deep that you can hardly see the fixed pupils. You just see two big black holes, as in a dead man’s skull. His skin, which is stretched across his bones like a drumhead, is not white, but a nasty yellow. His nose is so little worth talking about that you can’t see it side-face; and the absence of that nose is a horrible thing to look at. All the hair he has is three or four long dark locks on his forehead and behind his ears.”This chief scene-shifter was a serious, sober, steady man, very slow at imagining things. His words were received with interest and amazement; and soon there were other people to say that they too had met a man in dress-clothes with a death’s head on his shoulders. Sensible men who had wind of the story began by saying that Joseph Buquet had been the victim of a joke played by one of his assistants. And then, one after the other, there came a series of incidents so curious and so inexplicable that the very shrewdest people began to feel uneasy.For instance, a fireman is a brave fellow! He fears nothing, least of all fire! Well, the fireman in question, who had gone to make a round of inspection in the cellars and who, it seems, had ventured a little farther than usual, suddenly reappeared on the stage, pale, scared, trembling, with his eyes starting out of his head, and practically fainted in the arms of the proud mother of little Jammes.* And why? Because he had seen coming toward him, at the level of his head, but without a body attached to it, a head of fire! And, as I said, a fireman is not afraid of fire.The fireman’s name was Pampin.The corps de ballet was flung into consternation. At first sight, this fiery head in no way corresponded with Joseph Buquet’s description of the ghost. But the young ladies soon persuaded themselves that the ghost had several heads, which he changed about as he pleased. And, of course, they at once imagined that they were in the greatest danger. Once a fireman did not hesitate to faint, leaders and front-row and back-row girls alike had plenty of excuses for the fright that made them quicken their pace when passing some dark corner or ill-lighted corridor. Sorelli herself, on the day after the adventure of the fireman, placed a horse-shoe on the table in front of the stage-door-keeper’s box, which every one who entered the Opera otherwise than as a spectator must touch before setting foot on the first tread of the staircase. This horse-shoe was not invented by me—any more than any other part of this story, alas!—and may still be seen on the table in the passage outside the stage-door-keeper’s box, when you enter the Opera through the court known as the Cour de l’Administration.To return to the evening in question.“It’s the ghost!” little Jammes had cried.An agonizing silence now reigned in the dressing-room. Nothing was heard but the hard breathing of the girls. At last, Jammes, flinging herself upon the farthest corner of the wall, with every mark of real terror on her face, whispered:“Listen!”*I have the anecdote, which is quite authentic, from M. Pedro Gailhard himself, the late manager of the Opera.Everybody seemed to hear a rustling outside the door. There was no sound of footsteps. It was like light silk sliding over the panel. Then it stopped.Sorelli tried to show more pluck than the others. She went up to the door and, in a quavering voice, asked:“Who’s there?”But nobody answered. Then feeling all eyes upon her, watching her last movement, she made an effort to show courage, and said very loudly:“Is there any one behind the door?”“Oh, yes, yes! Of course there is!” cried that little dried plum of a Meg Giry, heroically holding Sorelli back by her gauze skirt. “Whatever you do, don’t open the door! Oh, Lord, don’t open the door!”But Sorelli, armed with a dagger that never left her, turned the key and drew back the door, while the ballet-girls retreated to the inner dressing-room and Meg Giry sighed:“Mother! Mother!”Sorelli looked into the passage bravely. It was empty; a gas-flame, in its glass prison, cast a red and suspicious light into the surrounding darkness, without succeeding in dispelling it. And the dancer slammed the door again, with a deep sigh.“No,” she said, “there is no one there.”“Still, we saw him!” Jammes declared, returning with timid little steps to her place beside Sorelli. “He must be somewhere prowling about. I shan’t go back to dress. We had better all go down to the foyer together, at once, for the ‘speech,’ and we will come up again together.”

Bookclub Guide

1. 1. Some modern critics feel the characters in The Phantom of the Opera are static and shallow, that Christine is too innocent, Raoul too noble, and Erik’s obsession with Christine never fully explained. Do you think Leroux purposely did this, and if so, why?2. 2. The Phantom of the Opera was published as the romantic movement was slowly turning into the gothic movement. How would you classify it?3. 3. Leroux wrote The Phantom of the Opera in a time when there was widespread French interest in Freudian psychoanalysis and particularly the libidinal/infantile/mother-seeking unconscious. How does Leroux work this into his novel? Are there characters that fit the infant or mother role?4. 4. Some critics see the Phantom as simply the unconscious, the Freudian superego. Do you believe this is what Leroux was truly writing about, or did he give his monster more depth?5. 5. Some see Erik as not shifting his class status, the theme of many gothic novels, but instead shifting his race. What scenes in the text help, or hinder, this assessment? Why would Leroux write of something so controversial?6. 6. One of Leroux’s major themes in this novel is the changing of one’s class. Consider Christine, the daughter of a fairground fiddle player, now besting the most talented opera singer in Paris and winning the heart of a viscount. What is Leroux saying here? Is it meant to simply be a happy ending?

From Our Editors

Okay - so you've seen the musical; now read the novel. Gaston Leroux's masterpiece, written in 1911, is a story of a sinister obsession, following the life of a horribly disfigured actor who hides in the basement of an opera house and orchestrates a chain of events to further the career of a beautiful young singer. The Phantom of the Opera has frightened and captivated audiences on both the stage and screen, and this Bantam edition of the book presents the original story in all its dark majesty.

Editorial Reviews

“Ingenious . . . breathless suspense.”—The Nation