Unpublished Charlie Chaplin Novel Discovered, Restored in Italy

ROME -- 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.

In the book, the main character, Calvero, vows to stage a comeback and "rock them with laughter like I used to." The words were written as Chaplin's career, which hit its apex in the 1920s and 1930s, was on the decline. Soon after the release of Limelight, he left the U.S. amid the anti-communist movement.

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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.

A spokesman for the Cineteca called Chaplin's writing "vivid" and "idiosyncratic," saying it moves "from the baldly colloquial to moments of rich imagery and Dickensian description."

The book is illustrated with until-now unpublished documents and photographs from the Chaplin archives.

Twitter: @EricJLyman