Truman Capote is one of the most famous and controversial writers in contemporary American literature. He was a flamboyant character, cultivating eccentricity and a certain taste for scandal, as you can guess from this self-portrait: 'I am a alcoholic. I am a drug addict. I am a homosexual. I am a genius.” In turn adulated and criticized, he was one of the most controversial figures of his time. He entered literature at the age of nineteen with his novels, but it is with the invention of a new genre, the non-fiction novel, that he entered posterity. Non-fiction novel is a combination of fiction and journalism, he invented it with his novel In Cold Blood, published in 1965, which made sensation at the time. tones. Capote's flamboyant public persona and battles with drugs brought him as much attention as his writing and made him a symbol of the artistic excesses that characterized New York's writers in the minds of the public during the 60s and 70s.
So onto his life and persona, to help us better understand his work.
Capote was born Truman Streckfus Persons in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 30, 1924, He experienced family instability from a very young age: the parental couple was not solid and his mother collected lovers, often leaving him on his own which left him with a lifelong fear of abandonment. At the age of 6 Truman was sent to his cousins in Monroeville, Alabama. He lived there for 3 years, and kept on visiting them throughout the decade. His mother when she had time for him used to lock him in hotel rooms so she could go out at night. According to Truman Capote, the memory of that key turning kept on haunting him in his adult life. In Alabama he met Nelle Harper Lee, his next-door neighbor, and their began a life-long friendship that will last until his death. NHL will later win the Pulitzer Price for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird, in which Capote appears as the character Dill
In 1932, his mother, who remarried a businessman, Joseph Capote, took him to live in New York. His stepfather legally adopted him and Truman Persons became Truman Capote. At that time, Capote's mother began her descent into alcoholism, often flyin into violent rages at him because of his homosexuality. Truman did not do well in school, he was only focused on his writting, determined to be a famous writer.
He left the school system at 17 and worked from 1941 to 1945 as a freelancer at the New Yorker. He published his first short stories at that time in Mademoiselle and Harper's Bazaar. The directors of these magazines, influential figures in literature, detected his exceptional talent. It gave him the ability to quickly climb the ladder of literary fame.
In 1946, Capote got away from his mother and found refuge in Yaddo, a residence which hosted writers, musicians and artists, in the State of New York. There he met Newton Arvin, a literature teacher. During the two years that their liaison lasted, he spent each weekend with the one who gave him the training he had not received at university. He later paid tribute to him by saying that 'Arvin was [his] Harvard'.
In his entire life as a writer, Truman Capote wrote only fifteen short stories. Their particular charm owes a lot to the marvelous or fantastic character of their stories, to their light irony. Their poetic style abounds with original images and his characters remain in the memory of the reader. It is thanks to this novels, and in particular to Miriam published by Mademoiselle in 1945, that the New York literary community will recognize her talent. Capote, like his literary contemporaries Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal, was known as much for his public persona as for his writing. He was soon well known for his distinctive, high-pitched voice and odd vocal mannerisms, his offbeat fashion style and his extroverted persona.