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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, centenary edition

Translated by Mireille Ribière, Penguin 2009, 368 pages

 

This New TranslationPhantom Mask

This new, unabridged translation is based on the 1910 edition of Le Fantôme de l’Opéra published in Paris by Éditions Pierre Lafitte.

This new version differs significantly from previous translations of the novel, most notably as regards the descriptions of the Paris Opera House and of Erik’s dwelling. Gaston Leroux, who was a journalist and a theatre critic, had first-hand knowledge of the building and borrowed extensively from the two volumes of Charles Garnier’s Le Nouvel Opéra de Paris (1878). My rendition of descriptive passages is therefore based on architectural treatises whose authors clearly consulted the same reference material as the novelist for their chapters on the Opera House designed by Garnier.

As befits a work of popular fiction, the issue of readability has been uppermost in my mind, particularly with regard to sentence structure. However, it seemed appropriate to mark the centenary of the first publication of the novel with a translation that also seeks to convey the flavour of the popular literature of the time, which is why I have aimed for historical accuracy in terms of usage. This new translation also afforded me the opportunity to evoke the prose of the English and American writers Leroux so admired – Conan Doyle, Dickens, Poe – and I hope to have achieved this through particular attention to vocabulary, sentence flow and the use of distinctive phrases.