The Psychoanalytic Veneer in the Novel

Le Fantôme’s “Unconscious Depths” and their Social Foundations
  • Jerrold E. Hogle


The almost too blatant uses of psychoanalytic motifs in Leroux’s Fantôme all appear in a context that now seems to us extensively “Freudian” within the novel and in Leroux’s writing prior to 1910. The “underground” figures, actions, and transformations in the book, for example, are made to seem the parts of a subliminal dream (see Wolf 1996, 5–6) quite often like the ones detailed in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. That is especially true during the novel’s first full descent into the depths beneath the Paris Opera: Christine’s flashback account to Raoul of her initial journey with Erik down to his lair and its maternal bedroom. Christine speaks of this entire recollection as a “nightmare,” however much she insists that it is not an actual dream (Leroux 1959, 232, 234). She even remembers being drawn deeper into it by “music… that led [my soul] to the threshold of a dream” and, when pressed by her listener with questions, she refuses to give complete answers: “Why ask me,” she cries, “about things that I hide at the base of my consciousness as one hides sin?” (Leroux 1959, 245, 261). She thereby establishes her journey as a descent into ein anderer Schauplatz (a “stage other” than the conscious one), one of Freud’s primary phrases for the unconscious (here the “base of my consciousness”). She also presents her tale as a memory being recounted to an interlocutor in words full of resistance to their true meanings, just as dreams are always narrated by half-resistant patients in Freud’s case-histories of their often guilt-ridden responses to his pressing queries.


Paris Opus Prenatal Nonexistence Wine Cellar Title Character High Voice 
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© Jerrold E. Hogle 2002

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  • Jerrold E. Hogle

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