This comprehensive analytical study of the "Phantom of the Opera" proposes answers to the question, "why do we keep needing this story told and retold in the Western world?" by revealing the history of deep cultural tensions that underlie the novel and each of its major adaptations. Using extensive historical and textual evidence and drawing on perspectives from several theories of cultural studies, this book argues that we need this tale told and reconfigured because it provides us ways to both confront and disguise how we have fashioned our senses of identity in the Western middle class. The "Phantom of the Opera" --in varying ways over time--turns out, like the "Gothic" tradition it extends, to be deeply connected to Western self-fashioning in the face of conflicted attitudes about class, gender, race, religious beliefs, Fruedian psychology, economic and international tensions, and especially the shifting and permeable boundaries between "high" and "low" culture. This book should interest all students of the history of Western culture, Gothic fiction, opera, musical theater, and film.
'The book offers quite a remarkable account of Leroux's Phantom and its various adaptations, an account notable for the skilful combination of textual scholarship, cultural-historical research, subtle critical interpretation and innovative theoretical approach.' - Fred Botting, Keele University
'This book is a well-written, thorough, and engaging assessment that I would recommend as one of particular use to scholars interested in the Gothic novel, adaptation, opera, European history, and psychoanalysis and the novel.' - Joanna Aroutian, Gothic Studies