Truman Capote

Truman Capote (käpō´tē), 1924–84, American author, b. New Orleans as Truman Streckfus Persons. During his lifetime, the witty, diminutive writer was a well-known public personage, hobnobbing with the rich and famous and frequently appearing in the popular media, before he lapsed into alcoholism in his final years. Capote's fiction reflects a private, imaginative world of narcissistic yet strangely innocent people. Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), his first novel and a classic Southern Gothic, is the story of a young boy's painful search for identity. His other works include a gentle autobiographical novel, The Grass Harp (1951); a collection of short stories, Tree of Night (1949); the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958); a report of his trip to Russia with the cast of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess,The Muses Are Heard (1956); the musical House of Flowers (1954); and two collections of nonfiction pieces, The Dogs Bark (1973) and Music for Chameleons (1980). In 1966, Capote published his "nonfiction novel," In Cold Blood, a chilling account of the senseless, brutal murder of a Kansas family that is widely considered his finest work. Fragments of his last major book, the unfinished Unanswered Prayers, were collected in 1990. The Complete Stories of Truman Capote was published in 2004.

See N. T. Inge, ed., Truman Capote: Conversations (1987); L. Grobel, Conversations with Capote (1985, repr. 2000); G. Clarke, ed., Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote (2004); memoirs by D. Windham (1983), J. M. Brinnin (1986), and J. Dunphy (1987); biographies by G. Clarke (1988), G. Plimpton (1997), and W. T. Schultz (2011); studies by H. S. Garson (1980 and 1992), K. T. Reed (1981), J. J. and J. C. Waldmeir, ed. (1999), and H. Bloom, ed. (2003).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Critical Response to Truman Capote
Joseph J. Waldmeir; John C. Waldmeir.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Boundless Hearts in a Nightmare World: Queer Sentimentalism and Southern Gothicism in Truman Capote's Other Voices, Other Rooms
Pugh, William White Tison.
The Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4, Fall 1998
Sentenced to Death: The American Novel and Capital Punishment
David Guest.
University Press of Mississippi, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "Truman Capote's In Cold Blood: The Novel as Prison"
The Modern American Novel of Violence
Patrick W. Shaw.
Whitston, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Truman Capote's In Cold Blood" begins on p. 85
Fifty Southern Writers after 1900: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Joseph M. Flora; Robert Bain.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: "Truman Capote (1924-1984)" begins on p. 99
A Sourcebook of American Literary Journalism: Representative Writers in An Emerging Genre
Thomas B. Connery.
Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "Truman Capote" begins on p. 239
The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story
Blanche H. Gelfant; Lawrence Graver.
Columbia University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Truman Capote (1924-1984)" begins on p. 184
The Art of Southern Fiction: A Study of Some Modern Novelists
Frederick J. Hoffman.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1967
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Truman Capote begins on p. 118
The Writer Observed
Harvey Breit.
World Publishing, 1956
Librarian’s tip: "Truman Capote" begins on p. 235
New American Gothic
Irving Malin.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of Truman Capote in multiple chapters
After the Lost Generation: A Critical Study of the Writers of Two Wars
John W. Aldridge.
McGraw-Hill, 1951
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIII "Capote and Buechner: The Escape into Otherness"
In My Opinion: An Inquiry into the Contemporary Novel
Orville Prescott.
Bobbs-Merrill, 1952
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "The Young Decadents: Capote, Bowles, Buechner, Goyen, Williams, Yorke"
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