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Essay on Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word “Fiction” is described as being “A literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact” (Fiction). Fiction generally can be categorized into six sub-genres: historical, horror, mystery, romance, westerns, and science fiction. However, Capote’s novel In Cold Blood cannot be easily placed in any of these categories. With the publication of Capote’s groundbreaking work in 1965, many critics argued as to what genre it belonged in; today this conflict is still relevant.
Around the time of the novels publication in the late 1960s, a new literary genre had begun to surface: New Journalism. Developed by columnist Tom Wolfe, New Journalism combined the elements of news writing and journalism with the elements of fiction writing (Nicholson). Described as being a form of literature that “engages and excites” its readers, it sought to challenge the reader not only “emotionally” but “intellectually” as well (Nicholson). Typically, New Journalism consists of four major characteristics such as telling the story by using scenes instead of flowing action, using conversational speech rather than quotations, having a first person view, and recording everyday details throughout the characters life (Andrews); most, if not all of these characteristics can be found in Capote’s novel.
Despite, the literary conception, ‘new Journalism’ is not a genre of fiction (Nicholson); it maintains it’s journalism element by sticking to the factual accuracy of the subject, with the writer being the primary source of information, who can only get into the head of the characters by interviewing them (Jensen) . Wolfe labeled Capote’s novel “new Journalism” because of h...


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.../~andrews/newjourn.html>.

Davis, Erica. "In Cold Blood," Capote's New Non-Fiction "Novel."" Suit 101 (2001). 21 Nov. 2007 .

"Fiction." American Heritage Dictionary. 24 Nov. 2007 .

"Historical." American Heritage Dictionary. 26 Nov. 2007 .

Jensen, Van. "Writing History: Capote’s Novel Has Lasting Effect on Journalism." The Lawrence Journal-World (2005).

Lee, Melissa. "Brother, Friends Object to Portrayal of Bonnie Clutter by Capote." Lawrence Journal-World (2005).

Nicholson, W G. "Teaching the New Journalism." English Journal 65 (1976): 55-57.

Plimpton, George. "The Story Behind a Nonfiction Novel." The New York Times (1966).
The New York Times. 24 Nov. 2007.

Standen, Amy. "In Cold Blood." Salon (1995). 25 Nov. 2007 .


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