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Leroux, Gaston

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1868-1927) French author of mystery novels who remains best known for Le Fantôme de l'Opéra (23 September 1909-8 January 1910 Le Gaulois; 1910; trans Alexander Texeira de Mattos as The Phantom of the Opera 1911), a tale of horror filmed in 1925 (re-released with sound 1930), 1943, 1962, 1983 (for television), 1989 and 1990 (for television) and used as the basis for the highly successful 1986 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948-    ) (see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy on this title and on Leroux in general). In crime fiction he is also noted for Le mystère de la chambre jaune ["The Mystery of the Yellow Room"] (September-November 1907 L'Illustration; 1908), an early locked-room mystery highly praised by John Dickson Carr and others. Le Roi Mystère ["The Mystery King"] (1908 Le Matin; 1910), deeply influenced by Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo (1844-1845), has supernatural moments. His first novel of direct genre interest, La Double Vie de Théophraste Longuet (5 October-22 November 1903 Le Matin as "Le Chercheur de trésors"; 1904; trans anon as The Double Life 1909; new trans Edgar Jepson as The Man with the Black Feather 1912), is a horror tale of supernatural possession. Balaoo (9 October-18 December 1911 Le Matin; 1912; trans Alexander Texeira de Mattos 1913) is an sf tale featuring a Missing Link in a detective role (see Apes as Human), filmed as The Wizard (1927) and as Dr Renault's Secret (1942); a sequel, Les Fils de Balaoo ["The Sons of Balaoo"] (1937), has not been translated. L'Espouse de Soleil (March-August 1912 Je Sais Tout; 1913; trans anon November 1914 Blue Book as "The Bride of the Sun"; same trans as The Bride of the Sun 1915; new trans as The Bride of the Sun 2021) ventures into Lost-World territory.

Rouletabille chez Krupp (September 1917-March 1918; 1918; trans Brian Stableford as Rouletabille at Krupp's 2013 chap), which is the last of his otherwise nonfantastic tales to feature the reporter and adventurer Joseph Rouletabille, is a World War One thriller involving the Invention of a super Weapon. The two episodes of Aventures effroyables de M Herbert de Reinich: 1) Le Capitaine Hyx: 2) La Bataille invisible (coll 1920; part 1 trans Hannaford Bennett as The Amazing Adventures of Carolus Herbert 1922; part 2 trans Hannaford Bennett as The Veiled Prisoner 1923) recount the exploits of a mysterious captain and his super-submarine in World War One. Leroux's last sf of interest – a novel published in two parts as La Poupée Sanglante: Roman d'aventures et de mystere (1 July-9 August 1923 Le Matin as "La Poupée sanglante, 1ere partie: La Sublime Aventure de Bénédicte Masson"; 1924; trans anon as The Kiss That Killed 1934) and Le Machine à assassiner: Roman d'aventures et de mystere (10 August-19 September 1923 Le Matin as "La Poupée sanglante, 2 partie: Gabriel"; 1924; trans anon as The Machine to Kill 1935) – features a Robot murderer and Identity Exchange. Leroux's use of sf material was opportunistic; a fair estimate of his skill as a novelist almost certainly awaits better translations. [JC]

Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux

born Paris: 6 May 1868

died Nice, France: 15 April 1927

works (selected)



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