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Charlie Chaplin and His Times

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Overview

One of America's most distinguished biographers, Lynn goes far beyond a mere recounting of the well-known events in Chaplin's career. By setting his life, his art, and his controversial politics in the context of his times, Lynn gives the book extra richness and dimension. In penetrating and exquisite detail, Lynn also traces the deep psychological connections between the man and the artist and brings his own keen critical intelligence and historical awareness to the meanings of Chaplin's films. And he has at ...
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Overview

One of America's most distinguished biographers, Lynn goes far beyond a mere recounting of the well-known events in Chaplin's career. By setting his life, his art, and his controversial politics in the context of his times, Lynn gives the book extra richness and dimension. In penetrating and exquisite detail, Lynn also traces the deep psychological connections between the man and the artist and brings his own keen critical intelligence and historical awareness to the meanings of Chaplin's films. And he has at last succeeded in separating the facts of his life from Chaplin's own artful fictions. Combining the strengths of a seasoned literary biographer and social historian, Lynn debunks the Chaplin myths passed on by unquestioning film critics, biographers, adulatory documentary filmmakers - and by Chaplin himself. He returns to the original sources to trace the origins of Chaplin's comic routines, and relates the story lines of his films to events in his childhood as well as his adult preoccupations. Lynn documents Chaplin's meteoric rise as a film actor, his failed early marriages and love affairs with glamorous stars, his communist sympathies, the infamous Joan Barry case, his voluntary exile in Switzerland with his young wife, Oona O'Neill Chaplin, and his triumphant return to America in 1972. And through it all is the gleaming thread of Chaplin's films. By delving deeply into the unique combination of slapstick and sentiment, wit and whimsy that characterize Chaplin's art, Lynn deftly captures both the magnetism of the man and the magic he created in his films.

With the psychologically penetrating insight that marked his award-winning Hemingway, Lynn probes beneath the mystique of the "Little Tramp, " the first true worldwide celebrity, whose unmatched comic genius masked a complex, sometimes tragic life. 24 pp. of photos. 640 pp. National ads. Local author publicity. 20,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

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With the psychologically penetrating insight that marked his award-winning Hemingway, Lynn probes beneath the mystique of the Little Tramp, the first true worldwide celebrity, whose unmatched comic genius masked a complex, sometimes tragic life. Includes photos.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The life of the movies' first superstar receives comprehensive treatment in this big-shouldered bio from Lynn (Hemingway, etc.). Although it's based largely on secondary sources (earlier Chaplin bios, the published memoirs of people who knew him, press accounts), the book provides a vivid portrait of Chaplin's intensely energetic working habits, his vaguely left-wing politics and his restless (to say the least) personal life, especially his huge appetite for young women. As every Chaplin biographer must, Lynn makes a stab at sorting out Chaplin's early life in Britain, all accounts of which are colored by Chaplin's own self-mythologizing and inconsistent versions. The text picks up momentum and authority with Chaplin's arrival in Hollywood. The book's chief claim to originality is summed up by the second half of its title: in nearly every chapter, Lynn provides quick and evocative sketches of important people or events that affected, or were affected by, Chaplin. These virtual sidebars include passages on the British music halls, Douglas Fairbanks and even Hitler (whom Chaplin parodied in The Great Dictator). Lynn is especially good on the controversies of Chaplin's later career, when problems with the Hays Office (the film industry's semi-official censor) and Communist-hunters in the federal government helped to destroy his career and drive him into exile. Although it lacks the scholarly authority of David Robinson's Chaplin: His Life and Art (1985) and comes rather hard on the heels of Joyce Milton's fine Tramp (1996), Lynn's book is a splendid popular biography, witty, engaging and informative. Photos. (Mar.)
Library Journal
On the heels of Joyce Milton's excellent Tramp (LJ 5/1/96) comes a second critical biography of film's greatest comic. Lynn (Hemingway, Harvard Univ., 1995) deftly interweaves Chaplin's life with the events and personalities of his era, including British music hall impresario Fred Karno, silent screen star and pal Douglas Fairbanks, numerous lovers and wives, brother Sydney, and Adolf Hitler. Lynn has done meticulous research, consulting census and asylum records to evaluate Chaplin's relationship with his increasingly schizophrenic mother. Through London maps and late 19th-century sociological studies, he detects a lower-rung but not entirely poverty-stricken Chaplin childhood; other dissimulations found in Chaplin's My Autobiography (LJ 10/15/64) are explained as well. Lynn addresses his subject's leftist views and makes sense of the House Committee on Un-American Activities investigations of 1947 that led to Chaplin's European exile until 1973. All a biography should be, this is enthusiastically recommended.-Kim R. Holston, American Inst. for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, Pa.
Chicago Tribune
A comprehensive biography of the famous entertainer.
The New York Times Book Review
According to this huge warts-and-all biography, the entertainer was driven by a never-fulfilled fantasy that he could rescue his mother form madness through his success. The result is an " often fascinating, prodigiously researched book."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441759443
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/20/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 17
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

KENNETH S. LYNN is the Arthur O. Lovejoy Professor Emeritus of History at The Johns Hopkins University. Previously he had been a professor of English and chairman of the American Civilization Program at Harvard University, where he obtained his A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees. The author of Mark Twain and Southwestern Humor and William Dean Howells: An American Life, he won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for biography in 1987 for Hemingway. He lives with his wife in Washington, D.C., and is the father of three children.

Adams Morgan is a theater-trained actor who has appeared in venues around the United States. He has also narrated for National Public Radio and performed radio dramas and historical reenactments. He lives in New York City.

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  • Posted March 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A thoroughly researched biography of Chaplin. Though a bit tedio

    A thoroughly researched biography of Chaplin. Though a bit tedious at times with a sociological perspective that enables the title of this work to include "and his times", this tediousness becomes forgivable when describing Chaplin's relationships with other actors as well as lovers. An excellent and well-done biography. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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