Gaston Leroux


 

Gaston Leroux (1868 - 1927) was a French journalist, detective, and novelist.  In the English-speaking world, he is best known for writing the novel The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, 1910), which has been made into several film and stage productions of the same name, such as the 1925 film starring Lon Chaney; and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical.

Leroux went to school in Normandy and studied law in Paris, graduating in 1889. He inherited millions of francs and lived wildly until he nearly reached bankruptcy. Then in 1890, he began working as a court reporter and theater critic for L'Echo de Paris. His most important journalism came when he began working as an international correspondent for the Paris newspaper Le Matin. In 1905 he was present at and covered the Russian Revolution. Another case he was present at involved the investigation and deep coverage of an opera house in Paris, later to become a ballet house. The basement consisted of a cell that held prisoners in the Paris Commune, which were the rulers of Paris through much of the Franco-Prussian war.

He suddenly left journalism in 1907, and began writing fiction; in 1909, he made his own film company, Cinéromans. He first wrote a mystery novel entitled Le mystère de la chambre jaune (1908; The Mystery of the Yellow Room), starring the amateur detective Joseph Rouletabille. Leroux's contribution to French detective fiction is considered a parallel to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's in the United Kingdom and Edgar Allan Poe's in America. Leroux died in Nice on April 15, 1927, of a urinary tract infection

From LibriVox:

1a.  Phantom of the Opera  - Christine Daae was brought up in the Paris Opera house. Her musician father suddenly dies, telling her he will send her an angel of music to look after her. She grows up and discovers that she is hearing a voice, telling her and teaching her to sing. She believes he is the angel of music but he is known in the Opera House simply as The Phantom. Although she is fascinated and drawn towards the phantom, she falls in love with her childhood sweetheart, The Vicomte de Chagny - or Raoul - but the Phantom won't take this lightly.

1b, The Phantom of the Opera [Dramatic Reading]  Over the years, strange things have been happening at the Paris Opéra House. The new owners, M. Moncharmin and M. Richard don't know what to do about the mysterious "Opera Ghost" demanding money, nor the tragic death of the chief scene-shifter. Now the young Soprano, Christine Daae, has been kidnapped and her lover, the Vicomte de Chagny, is going mad. The opera house is falling to pieces. Could this all be the work of the mysterious Phantom of the Opera?

2.  The Mystery of the Yellow Room   This crime novel was possibly the first to involve a ‘locked room mystery’, in which an attempted murder takes place, but with no obvious way for the perpetrator to have escaped.

3.  The Secret of the NightGaston Leroux, was the author of a popular series of mystery novels featuring a young journalist cum detective named Joseph Rouletabille. It is most likely that Leroux styled his hero after himself. Rouletabille was in the tradition of other great detectives who solved their cases by pure deductive reasoning. Much as Sherlock Holmes, who eliminated the impossible and concluded that whatever remained, however improbable must be the truth, Rouletabille included the known facts about the case and eliminated everything that was not a known fact, no matter how much it appeared to relate to the case. In The Secret of the Night, the names of the characters are often challengingly Russian and the plot involves, appropriately, both the Czar and the Nihilists. 

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