Did you know? Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra fought at the Battle of Lepanto (1571), was wounded, captured, imprisoned; he escaped, was enslaved and finally ransomed. Returning to Spain, he worked as an army quartermaster but spent several spells in jail on financial charges.
Then, at the age of 58, he wrote the world’s best selling novel, Don Quixote.
In his modest house in Madrid’s Calle de León, Cervantes died on April 23, 1616, perhaps the saddest day in literary history ― for on the same day, the world also lost William Shakespeare.
9 of the 15 “Black Paintings” that covered the walls of Goya’s home.
The Black Paintings (Spanish: Pinturas negras) is the name given to a group of fourteen paintings by Francisco Goya from the later years of his life, likely between 1819 and 1823. They portray intense, haunting themes, reflective of both his fear of insanity and his bleak outlook on humanity.
In 1819, at the age of 72, Goya moved into a two-story house outside Madrid that was called Quinta del Sordo (Deaf Man’s Villa). Although the house had been named after the previous owner, who was deaf, Goya too was nearly deaf at the time as a result of an illness he had suffered when he was 46. The paintings originally were painted as murals on the walls of the house, later being “hacked off the walls and attached to canvas.” Currently they are held in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
After the Napoleonic Wars and the internal turmoil of the changing Spanish government, Goya developed an embittered attitude toward mankind. He had a first-hand and acute awareness of panic, terror, fear and hysteria. He had survived two near-fatal illnesses, and grew increasingly anxious and impatient in fear of relapse. The combination of these factors is thought to have led to his production of the fourteen works known collectively as the Black Paintings.
Using oil paints and working directly on the walls of his dining and sitting rooms, Goya created works with dark, disturbing themes. The paintings were not commissioned and were not meant to leave his home. It is likely that the artist never intended the works for public exhibition: “…these paintings are as close to being hermetically private as any that have ever been produced in the history of Western art.”
Goya did not give titles to the paintings, or if he did, he never revealed them. Most names used for them are designations employed by art historians.
Did Gaston Leroux see the 1925 Phantom movie? I feel like I've seen stuff in the past that says he did, but I'm not sure. If so, do you know what his opinion was on it?
We can’t say for definitively certain, but the prevailing rumor is that yes, he did! He certainly knew about the film being made before it was, as he sold the rights to Universal.
Carl Laemmle, Universal Pictures producer, said in 1924 in a radio interview with WOR Radio Los Angeles:
When I found that there was no Opera that seemed suitable for screen presentation - and by that I mean one that would make the kind of picture people of today would want to see - I set about looking for books written about life at the opera. I was stumped, until I met Gaston Leroux, the famous French author, in Paris about three years ago. He told me I need search no further. Leroux had written a book which had become a best seller almost overnight. The name of it was The Phantom of the Opera. I remember buying a copy and sitting up all night to read it. It is a marvelously interesting story… It was just the book I had dreamed of finding.
In his book The Making of the Phantom of the Opera, Philip J. Riley claims that Leroux not only saw the completed film, but even worked on a sequel film a little bit:
When the original release of the 1925 The Phantom of the Opera reached France in 1925, Gaston Leroux was riding high on the world-wide fame that had come to him from the 15 year old novel. The book sales had assured him a steady income to care for his family. [He was ill and would only live another 2 years.]
When Leroux saw Erik disappear under the waters of the Seine instead of dying in the Opera Catacombs - alone, Leroux’s imagination went to work again and the result was a sequel called “The Return of the Phantom.” The rights were eventually bought from Leroux’s widow, in 1929.
From Gaston Leroux’s files and some speculation to fill in the gaps, the outline was interesting, but it could have also been a joke by Leroux that was taken seriously.
While Christine and Raoul are on a train taking them away from Paris and the Opera to live a quiet life, the Phantom’s body washes up on the shores of the Seine. It is found by the Persian, who discovers that it is not Erik. Erik was still alive! The Persian goes back to the Phantom’s hideout to discover that all of Erik’s clothes, music and instruments are gone. The Persian begins his search for Erik. It appears that Erik is leaving clues purposely leading the Persian out of the country.
Christine and Raoul are living happily in Madrid, where he is on leave from his post with the military to attend Christine’s premiere at the Opera house in Madrid. Meanwhile the Persian tracks Erik to Madrid and finds out that Erik put his cape on one of the unfortunate mob members during the confusion on the steps at the river bank and escaped underwater using his reed.
That was about as far as the Leroux idea went…
Riley’s book has a lot of good information in it but does not clearly mark its sources, so it’s hard to tell where this exact tidbit came from or how credible it is. But I think we can all enjoy the amazing concept of a sequel movie that is solely dedicated to the daroga chasing Erik around Europe while Raoul and Christine hilariously never even notice the fact that the Phantom keeps trying to interfere in their lives only to be tackled at the last moment by the Chief of the Persian Secret Police and knocked out of the frame before they see him.
Or, as Riley speculates, it could be a joke Leroux wrote down in response to seeing the movie version of his book, and the old man could be delightfully trolling us from beyond the grave. Frankly, I love both possibilities.
Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with teammate Sergio Ramos after scoring
the opening goal during the Champions League semifinals first-leg soccer match
between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid; President Trump holds up an Air Force
Academy football jersey that was given to him by team captain Weston
Steelhammer during the presentation of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in the
Rose Garden of the White House; and residents of Mosul, Iraq, reach out for
freshly baked cookies at a food distribution point; visitors look at a cheetah, in a private zoo called “12 Months” in Demydiv, Ukraine; the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Australian Academy of Tai Chi and Qigong hosts the first Tai Chi martial arts class over Australia’s largest city. These are some of the photos of the day. (AP/EPA/Getty/Reuters)
Photo credits: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP, Joshua Roberts/Reuters, Bram Janssen/AP, Gleb Garanich/Reuters, BridgeClimb Sydney/Reuters
Todo un orgullo haber conocido al escritor escocés Irvine Welsh en persona, después de dar una charla en la noche de los libros de Madrid. Gran maestro en el manejo de los personajes de sus novelas, así como en reflejar las inquietudes y cotidianidades de una clase obrera escocesa marcada por el thatcherismo. A él le debemos todo el fenómeno Trainspotting.