Truman Capote American Literature Analysis
In the preface to the last collection of his work published in his lifetime, the 1980 volume Music for Chameleons, Capote discussed in detail his views about the ordeal of writing as a creative activity and his own lifetime commitment to that pursuit. Writing was an occupation with a great risk to it: One had to take chances or fail. Indeed, Capote compared writing to professional pool playing and to a professional card dealer’s abilities. He also explained that he began writing as a child of eight and was, by his view, an accomplished writer at seventeen. Thus, when Other Voices, Other Rooms appeared in 1948, he viewed it as the end result of fourteen years of writing experience.
The substance of writing—and its accompanying pain of creation—Capote explained with a phrase he borrowed from Henry James; it was the “madness of art.” All imaginative writing was, he explained, the artist employing his creative powers of observation, of description, of telling detail; it was that act that led Capote in his later writing to see the possibilities of journalism (which is factual, detailed observation of truth) as an art form that could be as powerful as fictional writing. So it was that he shifted from fiction to nonfiction in mid-career with works such as The Muses Are Heard and his most famous work, In Cold Blood.
For Capote, the writer is, by nature, an outsider, the observer seeing and hearing that...
(The entire section is 4373 words.)
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