The Novella and the Tramp

Do you recognize this man? (Hint: He’s a genius.)

If you guessed “Charlie Chaplin, film star,” you’re partially right. The correct answer is “Charlie Chaplin, film star and novella-ist.

The Hollywood Reporter has the news:

The only book Charlie Chaplin ever wrote has been restored and will soon be published by an Italian film restoration institute.

Floodlights, which the silent-film icon completed in 1948, was adapted into the 1952 autobiographical film Limelight. The film and the book both tell the story of a struggling comedian and a despondent dancer who lean on each other for help.

Which Italian city came to the rescue? Why, it’s our old friend:

The 34,000-word book, which was nearly lost to history, was discovered and restored by Italy’s Cineteca di Bologna, which reported it was “pieced together” from handwritten notes and typed scripts and vignettes by Chaplin biographer David Robinson under the auspices of the Cineteca di Bologna, which will publish the book this year.

Thank you, Bologna! Not only did you give me a year of pleasure as a study abroad student (and many fine subsequent visits), you are now giving the world a lost piece of a great twentieth-century mind. Will it be any good? I have no prediction – other than the book’s length puts it in good company.

And that the guy who created this has the kind of empathy that every good fiction author needs:


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