The Critical Response to Truman Capote (Critical Responses in Arts and Letters)

One of the most controversial American authors of the twentieth century, Truman Capote is best known as the author of In Cold Blood (1966), a work of literary journalism that recounts the slaughter of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959. But he also wrote numerous short stories, dozens of nonfiction pieces for popular magazines, several other novels, and some works for Hollywood and Broadway. Unlike In Cold Blood, many of his earlier works were criticized for their focus on character at a time when other writers were using fiction to explore historical events and social and political positions. Since his death in 1984, scholarly interest in Capote and his works has grown considerably. Over the last few decades, the reaction to his works has been rich and varied. This volume chronicles the critical reception to Capote's writings.

Included are previously published reviews and essays, along with several pieces written especially for this book. The selections are grouped in several broad sections, which examine such topics as overviews and interviews, the genres in which he wrote, and his particular works, his literary documentaries, and his relation to other writers and critics. Each section is organized chronologically and traces not only the development of Capote's talents but also the evolution of critical attitudes toward his works. Both favorable and unfavorable analyses by commentators and scholars such as Ihab Hassan, George Jean Nathan, Leslie Fiedler, Diana Trilling, Kenneth Tynan, and many others provide a balanced view of Capote's writings. A comprehensive introduction covers the materials included in the book along with many other relevant texts, and extensive bibliographic material records the present state of Capote scholarship.