Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
$9.75
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: No writing/highlighting of text present with edge and dust jacket wear
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Chaplin: A Life Hardcover – November 24, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$4.92 $0.01

Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Weissman, professor at the Washington School of Psychiatry, examines Charlie Chaplin's life and work from a psychoanalytical perspective. Believing in using a life to read a film and a film to read a life, Weissman focuses on Chaplin's childhood and early career, giving scant attention to his later adult life. Most telling is the relationship with his mother. Her madness, brought on by starvation and syphilis, Weissman believes, manifests itself in Chaplin's films with a recurring theme: the rescue of a downtrodden female. For example, City Lights is a childhood rescue fantasy of saving his parents, while Limelight is filled with references to his alcoholic father. Weissman uncovers the source for the shabby gentility of the Little Tramp, as well as the development of that extraordinary character. En route, he paints an engaging if narrowly focused portrait of how a cinema artist is created and how he practices his craft. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Psychiatrist Weissman offers a fascinating, analytic portrait of a most complex man, who from 1915 to the mid-1930s was the most famous person in the world. Chaplin’s near-Dickensian childhood was one of squalid poverty in London. Both parents were in show business, and alcoholism and syphilis blighted their lives. At seven, Charlie was committed to the Hanwell School for Orphans and Destitute Children. According to Weissman, Chaplin recreated his painful childhood over and over in his movies, especially through the adventures of Chaplin’s archetypal film persona, the Little Tramp, the comical and lovable Everyman who never gives up. Weissman finds many parallels between Chaplin’s upbringing and what he presented on the big screen; indeed, he maintains that the films are deeply personal statements reflecting the formative influence of early poverty on his artistic development. Besides being a captivating psychological study of a seminal figure in motion-picture history, the book is an engaging survey of early Hollywood filmmaking. --June Sawyers
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; First Edition edition (November 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559708921
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559708920
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,808,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For most people who are interested in knowing more about the life and career of Charles Chaplin (16 April 1889 - 25 December 1977), this most recently published of several biographies and two autobiographies provides as much information and analysis as they probably require. I had seen several of Chaplin's greatest films (The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, and Limelight) as well as the film about him starring Robert Downey Jr. One of his daughter's, Geraldine Chaplin, wrote the introduction to Stephen Weissman's biography and correctly describes it as "always provocative and at times heart-wrenching, an enlightening read, an important addition to an understanding of my father's genius and art, and a unique meditation on the mystery of creativity."

More specifically, Weissman thoroughly examines

1. Chaplin's generally miserable childhood
2. His initial appearances on stage in London and throughout the British Isles
3. His breakthrough performance in the West End production of Sherlock Holmes
4. His association with the Fred Karno troupes ("Fred's Fun Factory")
5. His first and second American tours with Karno group (between 1910 and 1913)
6. His association with Mack Sennett and the Keystone Film Company
7. His one-year association with Essanay Films

Note: Although Chaplin co-founded United Artists with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith in 1919, Weissman includes no discussion of that partnership.

8. Chaplain's creation and development of the "Little Tramp"
9. Various controversies involving Chaplin's lifestyle and political views
10.
Read more ›
2 Comments 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I'm normally wary of biographies that attempt to put their chosen subject "on the couch." I know it's tempting, when writing about artists, writers, or other creative people to try to view their work through the gauze of life experience, explaining their art in the context of childhood traumas, distant parents, or failed relationships. There are some no-brainers out there, certainly -- one could hardly write about Edgar Allan Poe or Vincent Van Gogh, to name only two, without looking into inner demons that ended up screaming at the public from the page or canvas.

It gets harder, however, with figures that, for the most part, aren't quite as haunted or tormented. But that doesn't mean biographers haven't tried. Some Disney biographers, for example, have claimed that Walt Disney obviously had a contempt for women and deep-seated abandonment issues, since several of his early films featured evil mother-figures or mothers who are dead or otherwise unavailable. It doesn't matter that Disney's own life story doesn't really seem to bear that out; once you've got him on the couch, you can use his body of work to explain away anything. That was the sort of thing that nearly ruined David Michaelis's otherwise dynamite SCHULZ AND PEANUTS for me -- Michaelis tried, I thought, a bit too hard to use the Peanuts strip to explain Schulz's psyche. It was a valiant effort, but I just didn't buy it.

And that, ultimately, is my problem with On The Couch biographies: I don't like being told that every inch of an artist's output -- whether it's on film, on audiotape, on canvas, or on the printed page -- is a channeling of some remote glob of their psyche, or reflects a subconscious effort to work out some personal issue.
Read more ›
2 Comments 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A close examination of the myriad influences that formed the most beloved comic character of his time. The examination of Chaplin's life from the standpoint of a psychiatrist yields insight into some of the nuances of the performer's art. He examines the reasons for Chaplin's skills, as well as the reasons that they resonated so closely with the audiences of his day. Although there is a lot of information in this book, the author keeps it interesting and relevant to the end result that was Chaplin's art.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoy biographies and Stephen Weissman wrote a well researched well written enjoyable biography about the great Charlie Chaplin. After reading this book I felt as if I missed something in life at not ever having met Charlie Chaplin. If like me you like biographies, you'll enjoy Weissman's book about the life of the little tramp.

http://www.amazon.com/Lafittes-Treasure-Unlimited-Historical-Adventure-ebook/dp/B00LP49BLE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446579846&sr=1-1&keywords=Lafitte%27s+Treasure
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an enjoyable story that gives the reader a tremendous insight as to who Charlie Chaplin was, with an amazingly in-depth analysis of what made him become so popular at that time in history. With his unique character, one would assume he had an unusual background, but this author seems to have really done his homework in ferreting out personal details as well as doing a lot of assuming as to what went into the making of Charlie Chaplin.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By Mary R. Baran on November 9, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wonder what is really true! I love biographies, but this one is very confusing. And, actually, who cares? I thought it would be factual, but, to me, although interesting, this book was semi-boring.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: memoir