Italian film restoration institute Cineteca di Bologna has published American screen legend Charlie Chaplin’s only known work of fiction, The New York Times reports. The 1948 novella, titled Footlights, runs approximately 34,000 words and served as the basis for Chaplin’s 1952 film Limelight. As narrated in the film, Footlights likewise tells the story of an aging, alcoholic clown named Calvero who saves a ballerina from suicide.
“It’s the story of a comedian who has lost his public, by a comedian who at that time had lost his public, who was referred to in the press of the time as a ‘former comedian,’ a ‘former successful film maker,’” co-director of Cineteca’s Chaplin project Cecilia Cenciarelli told The Guardian. “The book deals a little more with the relationship of the artist to his audience, with the meaning of art [than Limelight].”
News of the novella’s release arrived just after the Chaplin centennial Feb. 2, when “the Tramp” first appeared in the 13-minute silent film Making a Living. Footlights will be made available through the publisher’s website and Amazon. You can read an excerpt from the novella here.