- Series: Ackroyd's Brief Lives
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Nan A. Talese; 1st edition (October 28, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385537379
- ISBN-13: 978-0385537377
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,028,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life (Ackroyd's Brief Lives) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 28, 2014
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"Quietly enthralling ... Ackroyd’s coolly perceptive literary style and equally devastatingly effective observations suggest that he doesn’t care a fig about pleasing geeks or fans or anyone else."
—The New York Times Book Review
"[A] pungent, evocative biography ... Great artist, petty tyrant—Ackroyd does justice to Chaplin in all his aspects, with a biographer’s precision and a novelist’s detachment. His heart is sympathetic, and his achievement is to stir our great wonder at the once-upon-a-time existence and uncanny achievement of one unique, damaged, brilliant soul."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Ackroyd's writing is masterful—elegant, pitch-perfect, a pleasure to read—and his timing is as impeccable as Bob Hope's ... Chaplin [is a] small gem."
—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
"Ackroyd rewards his readers with a tale fit for a Chaplin film, featuring humor, tragedy and a poignant fade-out."
"A gem of book. If Ackroyd has an edge on the scores of authors who have written about Chaplin, it’s that he probably knows more about London than anyone alive. Ackroyd puts that knowledge of and feel for London to good use in describing Chaplin’s difficult early years—when he was fatherless, even motherless at times when she was confined to an asylum. Those years were the source of Chaplin’s artistic genius and of his unquenchable drive for wealth and power ... Ackroyd deftly defines the differences between the lovable tramp that Chaplin portrayed on screen and the difficult-to-love character he was in real life."
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"[Ackroyd] deftly navigates the myriad facets of his subject."
—The Columbus Dispatch
"In his typically elegant and measured prose, prize-winning biographer Ackroyd brilliantly brings Chaplin to life ... Ackroyd’s book introduces the Little Tramp in such a charming and candid fashion that it will drive movie buffs to watch Chaplin on screen once again."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Ackroyd exposes the hidden truths in Chaplin's life that help us to understand the artist both personally and professionally. An exceptional read."
"Detailed yet breezy, full of sharp insights into Chaplin’s public and private personas ... Expect plenty of interest in this fine biography."
—Booklist, starred review
"The opening sentences alert readers to settle in and have a good time ... There is plenty of color here."
—The Weekly Standard
"[Ackroyd's] account of Chaplin’s difficult early life in the slums of London is evocative and moving, detailing the many deprivations suffered by the young Charlie ... A comprehensive look at Chaplin the man."
“Chaplin's rise makes an enthralling story, and it’s one perfectly suited to Peter Ackroyd’s prodigious and idiosyncratic talents ... Ackroyd acknowledges Chaplin’s many human failings, while at the same time giving us a vivid sense of what made the man a genius.”
“[A] fine biography ... The luxury of a short book about a vast life cannot be overestimated.”
“Ackroyd has turned in the best account of Chaplin’s formation beneath the teetering chimney stacks of Victorian London, fragrant with the odours of dung, smoke and beer ... Ackroyd is just the man to puncture the whoppers with which Chaplin embroidered his past, without being too much of a scold.”
“Ackroyd brings a novelist’s as well as a biographer’s eye to the story of a man who ‘seemed to epitomise the human condition itself, flawed and frail and funny.’”
“Compact, engrossing, intelligent.”
—The Sunday Times (London)
About the Author
PETER ACKROYD is the author of London: The Biography, Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination, Shakespeare: The Biography, and Thames: The Biography. He has written acclaimed biographies of T.S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More as well as several successful novels. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Award for Literature.
Top customer reviews
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Ackroyd points out that Chaplin was not a very nice man offscreen! He had countless affairs and treated his wives in horrific ways. Chaplin was a loner and changeable in his mood swings. He was a perfectionist and had a massive ego. Nevertheless, he was a comic genius whose little tramp image will live forever in the history of film.. This is a short but well written biography in Ackroyd s series of Brief Lives of famous persons. There are fatter biographies of the great clown but the essential facts are in this slim volume. Chaplin got in trouble for his leftist beliefs and left the US to live out his life in Switzerland with his last wife and a brood of children.
I was astounded to learn that, more often than not, Chaplin shot 50 or 75 takes of a scene! I can't begin to imagine how the actors were able to perform scores of takes well. But again, no discussion.
I got as far as The Kid. This was a breakthrough film, but again, virtually no discussion. I couldn't read any more. On my deathbed, one of my great regrets will be that I didn't realized how bad this book is until after the seven day return period.