By Jonathan Swift
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Additional resources for A Tale of a Tub
He had also struck up a congenial relationship with another Alister, the son of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. It was as simple as that. At any rate the ‘interview’ dissolved into lively conversation, and from there we went to lunch and then up to his house, where I was introduced to ‘my friend Miss Goddard’. A routine mannerly hint from me that I ought to be on my way was brushed aside, and through the long afternoon we sat round the empty swimming pool (there was a polio epidemic that summer) and I left at sundown on a promise to be back next day to dinner.
As documentary support for a thesis merely, there is the eerie similarity between Oliver Twist and the first sixty pages or so of Chaplin’s Autobiography. But as a reincarnation of everything spry and inquisitive and Cockney-shrewd and invincibly alive and cunning, Chaplin was the young Dickens in the flesh. I had started to read Dickens when I was not more than nine, and by the time I was twelve I had gone through all the novels and whatever I could lay my hands on by way of memoirs and biographies, from Forster and Dolby to Mamie Dickens’s My Father as I Recall Him.
This may at first sound suspicious as fact and coy as a confessional, because we think of fame as something that burgeons and can hardly amaze its object, unless it mushrooms overnight, as with Lindbergh. It happened to Chaplin when he was already earning $1,250 a week, a salary which would have been handsome for an opera star. ) He was, at the time, the most financially precious property in the movies. But it is hard for us now to appreciate how inbred was the American motion picture business in its infancy, how much of a colony in exile its practitioners had created.