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Book News: Charlie Chaplin's Only Known Novel Is Unveiled

Actor Charlie Chaplin (right) is seen in the 1952 film <em>Limelight</em> with his son Charles Chaplin Jr.
Actor Charlie Chaplin (right) is seen in the 1952 film <em>Limelight</em> with his son Charles Chaplin Jr.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A novella by the late movie star Charlie Chaplin has been published for the first time. The 34,000-word novella Footlights, which was the basis for his 1952 film Limelight, was found in the Cineteca di Bologna's Chaplin archive. It is the only known work of fiction written by Chaplin, and, like Limelight, features a suicidal ballerina and a clown. The Guardian has an excerpt. Cecilia Cenciarelli, co-director of Cineteca's Chaplin project, told the Guardian that the novella written in the late 1940s "has shadows. It's the story of a comedian who has lost his public, by a comedian who at that time had lost his public, who was referred to in the press of the time as a 'former comedian,' a 'former successful film maker.' "
  • Roman Catholic Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz is publishing a book of Pope John Paul II's private writings in defiance of the late pope's will, which asks that they be burned. The book was set to be published Wednesday in Poland. According to The New York Times, the papers "contain religious meditations written from July 1962, when he was a young bishop on the rise, to March 2003, when he had been pope for more than 24 years and Parkinson's disease was eroding his health." At a news conference, Dziwisz said, "In writing his will, the Holy Father knew he was entrusting these notebooks to someone who would treat them responsibly. I had no doubt these were such important items, testifying to the spirituality of a great pope, that it would be a crime to destroy them."
  • Philip Roth was interviewed by Stanford University's Cynthia Haven. He said, "I have no desire to write fiction. I did what I did and it's done. There's more to life than writing and publishing fiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date." Asked about the term "American-Jewish writer," he responded, " 'An American-Jewish writer' is an inaccurate if not also a sentimental description, and entirely misses the point. The novelist's obsession, moment by moment, is with language: finding the right next word."
  • Orhan Pamuk takes the journalist Joshua Hammer on a tour of Istanbul. Hammer writes that Pamuk's "work is as grounded in the city as Dickens's was in London and Naguib Mahfouz's was in Cairo. Novels such as 'The Museum of Innocence' and 'The Black Book' and the autobiographical 'Istanbul: Memories and the City' evoke both a magical city and a melancholy one, reeling from the loss of empire, torn by the clash between secularism and political Islam and seduced by the West."
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