by Vicraj Gill
In Monday’s feature piece, Nicki Leone explored the thin line between fact and fantasy often present in Gaston Leroux’s work. Sensational prose style notwithstanding, however, the following quotes from his fiction prove that Leroux was also capable of remarkably practical and sage insights.
“Be assured, my dear fellow, that nothing in life is serious, nothing except death. And then we are no longer here to worry about it.” —The Octopus of Paris [Les étranges noces de Rouletabille] (1927)
“Daddy Jacques had no sooner uttered these words of pity and protestation than tears and lamentations broke out from the concierges. I never saw two accused people crying more bitterly. I was extremely disgusted. Even if they were innocent, I could not understand how they could behave like that in the face of misfortune. A dignified bearing at such times is better than tears or groans, which, most often, are feigned.” —The Mystery of the Yellow Room
“If I am the phantom, it is because man’s hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.” —The Phantom of the Opera [Le fantôme de l’Opéra] (1910)
“He asked only to be ‘someone,’ like everyone else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar.” —The Phantom of the Opera (1910)
“This is the strangest thing I know. The more we understand something, the more we know nothing!” —The Mystery of the Yellow Room [Le mystère de la chambre jaune] (1908)
“Lies are less in the things that we are told than the things not in our knowledge!” —The Kiss That Killed [La poupée sanglante] (1923)
“It seems that the destiny which controls the lives of men takes a diabolical pleasure in preceding the worst catastrophe by the serenest of joys. Thus is it often that we are warned of the tempest by the calm.” —The Man with the Black Feather [La double vie de Théophraste Longuet] (1903)
“What is it that makes man what he is? Is it not the faculty of speech? Language enables him to note his experiences; language increases the scientific assets of the generations that follow one upon the other. It is thanks to language that man is able to link together more closely his fellow-creatures distributed over the face of the globe. It is language that distinguishes man from the rest of the animal world. … A race of dumb men, deprived of all power of communicating with those who can speak, would be a race of brutes.” —Balaoo (1911)
“You want the secret of my success; my recipe? I have always brought the same care to making an adventure novel, a serialized novel, that others would bring to the making of a poem. My ambition was to raise the level of this much maligned genre.” —foreword to The Phantom of the Opera
Click here to read Nicki Leone’s feature piece on Gaston Leroux.
Homepage photo credit: Universal Pictures