Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jonathan Rose's "The Literary Churchill"

Jonathan Rose is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History, Drew University. He was founding president of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing and is co-editor of the journal Book History.

Here Rose dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor:
My book The Literary Churchill is a fairly unconventional portrait of Winston. Far from the sonorous, crusty old Tory we're used to, my Churchill was a bohemian artist, a flamboyant public performer. He admired and (to some extent) modeled himself after Oscar Wilde, so we would need an actor with that kind of panache. Charlie Chaplin could have played Churchill as a young man, especially the more thrilling semi-comic episodes of his early life: escaping from a Boer POW camp, or battling anarchists at the Siege of Sidney Street. They met on more than one occasion. They even toyed with the idea of doing a film about the young Napoleon, with Chaplin playing the lead and Churchill writing the screenplay. In 1935 Churchill actually published an appreciation of Chaplin, arguing that, even in the age of talking pictures, a great cinematic artist could continue to work in pantomime. It's difficult to think of any living actor today who might truly capture the creative side of Churchill: perhaps Patrick Stewart, though he'd have to put on a few pounds.
Learn more about The Literary Churchill at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue