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The Tramp's Odyssey
Simon Louvish

published 2018 6" x 9" • 464 pages
ISBN 9781566560115 • paperback • $20.00


An Everyman who expressed the defiant spirit of freedom, Charlie Chaplin was first lauded and later reviled in the America that made him Hollywood’s richest man. He was a figure of multiple paradoxes. Simon Louvish’s book, following his five major biographies of comedy's classic stars, from W.C. Fields to Laurel and Hardy and Mae West, looks afresh at the “mask behind the man.”

Louvish charts the tale of the Tramp himself through his films, from the early Mack Sennett shorts through the major features The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator , et al. He retrieves Chaplin as the iconic London street kid who carried the “surreal” antics of early British music hall triumphantly onto the Hollywood screen. Louvish also looks anew at Chaplin’s and the Tramp’s social and political ideas—the challenge to fascism, defiance of the McCarthyite witch hunts, eventual “exile,” and last mature disguises as the serial killer Monsieur Verdoux and the dying English clown Calvero in Limelight.

This book is an epic journey, summing up the roots of comedy and its appeal to audiences everywhere, who reveled in the clown’s raw energy, his ceaseless struggle against adversity, and his capacity to represent our own fears, foibles, dreams, inner demons and hopes.

Simon Louvish is a biographer of comedians and author of satirical and outrageous fiction. He is a film screenwriter and teaches film at the London Film School. His film biographies include, Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Story of W. C. FieldsMonkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers, Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy, Keystone: The Life and Clowns of Mack Sennet, Cecil B. DeMille: A Life in Art, and Mae West: It Ain't No Sin.

Media Reviews

“Amid the many books about Chaplin published since the 1920s, Louvish offers fresh insights as he focuses on the famed, iconic cane-twirling Tramp character. He documents Chaplin's costuming, the development and evolution of the Tramp through the earliest films, plus departures to experiment with other characters … Louvish writes with an authoritative, nonacademic clarity and his remarkable research benefits both from the vast collection at the Chaplin Research Centre in Bologna, Italy, and a close study of recent film restorations, seeing the films as they were seen and known in their first releases. Interweaving reviews, interviews and early screenplay drafts, Louvish unveils an impressive, prismatic portrait of Hollywood's majestic jester.”  — Publishers Weekly

The Tramp’s Odyssey is sharp, fast, full of unexpected detail, and impressively succeeds in demystifying Chaplin while leaving the Tramp’s mechanistic mystique largely intact.”  — New Statesman

“A handsome and absorbing book … Louvish’s tone is that of the dissecting surgeon overlaid with affection.” —The Times

“Louvish’s skillful and stimulating descriptions of old films will rekindle a desire to watch them again or discover them anew. But the real excellence of this book is in deepening our understanding of how Chaplin nurtured his comic creation and how it, in turn, nurtured him.” — Daily Express

“This is not a volume for the casual film fan seeking laughs or gossip, but for the student of cinema who wishes to truly understand Chaplin's body of work. It is masterfully thorough.”
—Sunday Telegraph

“This is more than just the mere story of an early film actor; it is an epic journey exploring the roots of the 20th century comedy and its broad global appeal.” —  

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