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Name: EAAB | Gender: Ghostly Lady Spirit | Posts: 79 | Roses: 10
Old 06-07-2014 at 10:34 PM
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An instance where Christine drives me nuts...  Post [1] »


Hi everyone!

I just recalled one of my pet peeves with Christine in the original novel~why on earth whould she consider the flowers Erik has ready for her when he first takes her to his lair as "stupid"? I know she says something about the ribbons, or something like that, but really, if a man who worships the ground you walk on has taken the trouble to give you that many exquiste and expensive flowers fit for a gala triumph, I certainly wouldn't consider it "stupid"! A bit extravagant, yes, but wouldn't you love to be spoiled like that for once? Honestly!

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Old 06-08-2014 at 09:03 AM
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 Post [2] »


That bit always bothered me, as well. After looking at a couple of other translations, though, it looks like only the first English translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos calls the flowers "stupid." The 1990 translation by Lowell Bair doesn't give Christine's opinion on them except to note that they're there, and the 2009 translation by Mireille Ribière has her refer to them as "mundane." I'm not sure what the other 3 translations (by Leonard Wolf, Jean-Marc and Randy L'Officier, and David Coward, respectively) use, but a friend tells me that the original French version describes them as something like "overzealous."

Since de Mattos' translation is (perhaps) the only one to have Christine call the flowers "stupid," I'm inclined to think it was probably a mistake on his part, as he made quite a few errors throughout his translation. Erik signing his letters as "O.G." meaning "Opera Ghost" was a translation mistake -- it should have been "P. of the O."/"Phantom of the Opera", as the original French rendered it as "F. de l'O."/"Fantôme de l'Opéra." Erik saying "I am not an an angel, or a genius, or a ghost" was a mistake, too; it should be "spirit" rather than "genius." "Red Death stalking abroad" was also an error; Bair's "Red Death passing by" was closer to what it was supposed to be. The de Mattos translation even omitted a whole chapter, and it also cut quite a few paragraphs throughout the book. Because of all these issues, it kind of saddens me that the de Mattos translation is the most widely available and well-known English version of the novel... It's only because it's out of copyright, and there are much better ones out there.


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Name: EAAB | Gender: Ghostly Lady Spirit | Posts: 79 | Roses: 10
Old 06-08-2014 at 10:43 PM
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 Post [3] »


Hi IAmErik771!

Hmm, I haven't looked in my original French (unabridged) version for awhile, so here goes:

Christine does call them "Stupid"- "stupides"- magnificent and stupid, but "overdone" or "over civilized" like the ones she would see after a premiere, so she had a lot of descriptions of them, and "stupid" was one of them! (Ungrateful wretch! She just got her singing career off the ground and couldn't have been showered with too many flowers yet, so why be so uppity? Especially with Erik!) I'm trying to picture the Man in Black surrounded by flowers. Romantic actually.

You're right about Red Death: it should read something like "Touch Me Not! I am Red Death that passes"~but somehow, I kinda like the more cavalier translation of "I am Red Death stalking abroad"! A bit more dramatic, even if not true to the text.

Also, I agree with the whole P.O. thing, why not be more literal and have that put in? Opera Ghost, OG, is so, bleh. Although PO sounded too much like "Post Office", so maybe translators steered clear of making that look alike.

Re: the word "genius", no, that was placed in the right context. The term had a slightly deeper meaning in the 19th century and previous times than it does now, a "genius" was not just a brainy person, but was drawn from the idea of the "genii" of "genius" of the ancient Greeks, winged like Muses or spirits that would spur man on to great things beyond the understanding of other mortals. They would spur on heroes and the like to great and daring deeds, almost recklessly beyound human mores or laws. A really pumped up spirit-Muse type of thing! In fact, it was almost a 'bad' thing if you had a genius inspiring you, or if were called a genius back then: it implied you would go beyond what was acceptable for your art because as a creative person you refused to be bound by moral obligations, etc , and throw all decency aside. I'm glad that got toned down a bit over time to the suggestion you were being guided by a gifted spirit.

So, a winged creative "genius" as spirit/muse that spurs you on to greater things beyond the talents of other humans is quite apropos, like the line in ALWs musical: "He the unseen genius." In fact, depiction of Christian angels with wings came from this idea, although according to the Christian definition of angels they are pure spirit and don't have wings, but were added in pictures to show they were above man in the created order of things. Now "genius" is used for someone who is more intellectual or gifted than most, and while that's an okay conection, it's not as strong as the original context. Today's use of the word genius is so watered down!

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Name: EAAB | Gender: Ghostly Lady Spirit | Posts: 79 | Roses: 10
Old 06-10-2014 at 10:32 PM
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 Post [4] »


Okay...I have another instance when Christine drives me bonkers in the original novel...when Christine asks Raoul if people could be so unhappy when they are in love, e.g., after Erik allows them to play their make-believe engagement with the reply Raoul would know what it would be like to be as unhappy as he is, etc.......obviously, she didn't feel bad playing around with their feelings, nor did she feel torn between Raoul and Erik, so did she love either of them at all? She really didn't have a clue, did she? If she felt for either of them, or both at the same time, surely she would have felt terrible not being able to decide between the two of them if that was the case? Etc. It just seems like a dumb question when you're caught in a love triangle!

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Old 06-12-2014 at 04:11 AM
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 Post [5] »


Thanks for the info about the original French version! As you can probably tell, I haven't read it (or studied the language) and was just going by what others have said about it, so thank you for the corrections.

As far as calling the flowers "stupid," I think that was probably brought on by the sheer absurdity she felt at seeing such an ordinary-looking room with seemingly normal, tangible things after such a bizarre journey to get there (and how strange the man who built the place and brought her there was). Maybe not the best word to use, but that conflict of expectations there is similar to the conflict that makes up a joke. Knowing that, Christine could probably be forgiven if she started laughing because of what had happened.

With the whole "playing at love" part and trying to figure out Christine's motivations, we need to remember that Leroux's Erik is quite different from the romanticized version portrayed by ALW and others who have adapted the story. By the point where Christine and Raoul have their "secret engagement," Christine has already seen Erik and gotten an idea of what he might be capable of. I don't believe she was ever "in love" with him at all, even though she likely felt sympathy and compassion for him; her romantic feelings were definitely for Raoul, but she couldn't act like that was the case because she could never be sure if or when Erik might be listening. So she had to act like it was all a game and her feelings for Raoul weren't genuine until the rooftop scene where she finally felt like she could tell him the truth, because she thought the roof would be the only place in the Opera House where Erik wouldn't hear them. (Of course, that didn't go so well either.)


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Name: EAAB | Gender: Ghostly Lady Spirit | Posts: 79 | Roses: 10
Old 06-13-2014 at 09:47 PM
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 Post [6] »


Hi IamErik771...

No problem! I'm not too great on French myself, I basically am trying to teach myself how to read it, thanks to POTO! My obsession is driving me onward to aquire a few skills. LOL!

I love the unabridged French version...there was quite a number of important bits cut out of the original story. You might have come across unabridged English translations, if so, you know what I mean. Really good bits got cut out. For instance, on the first night Erik takes Christine to his lair, she declares if he tried anything dishonourable towards her, she would take the scissors on the dressing table and end her life rather than go through that. Interesting. Shows she had some courage there when in the cut versions, she seemd so much like a 'victim', except when she agrees to marry Erik to keep Raoul alive of course.

Anyway, I agree with your points, the poor thing must have been caught in an emotional whirlwind, so everything must have been absurd and tragic all at the same time. I just happen to appreciate the efforts Erik went to make her feel welcome, and she calls the flowers 'stupid'..? Nuts. Of course, they were also bought with stolen money, out of the 20,000 francs possibly, so I probably shouldn't be that impressed. LOL!

RE: Erik's oridinary room, I know..isn't that odd? We tend to turn it into this Gothic, romantic lair, but it's just an ordianary middle class room, except for the organ and coffin. Hmmm. I guess Erik realy was trying to live an 'ordinary' life as best he could. I just keep wishing it was more of a 'palace underground' as Raoul described it!

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Name: James the Exceedingly Evil | Gender: Phan Dude | Age: 29 | Posts: 1,908 | Roses: 0
Old 06-14-2014 at 06:52 AM
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 Post [7] »


True; we always tend to imagine Erik's home as a lair, but he did want it to be as ordinary a house as possible (but with his coffin and torture chamber, so hey). And if he had gotten to marry Christine, he said he wanted to move to an ordinary house on the surface.

It's interesting how adaptations of the story color our view of the original, isn't it? Especially when it comes to Christine's scarf -- the one she lost, that Raoul went into the sea to get for her. The novel never said what color it was, but because of the ALW musical, Phans always tend to imagine it as red in the novel as well.


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Name: EAAB | Gender: Ghostly Lady Spirit | Posts: 79 | Roses: 10
Old 06-14-2014 at 10:29 PM
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 Post [8] »


Ha ha! I know, that's what happens when an idea leaves the hands of it's creator. It gets developed and re-developed all over again beyond the original concept. I guess things have to get redeveloped at times, or all these directors, composer ad writers would be plagiarizers! LOL! It's fun to see all the different concepts emerge.

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