In Cold Blood

Satisfactory Essays
An essay written in 1966 by a Franco-Bulgarian historian named Tzvetan Todorov states that every masterpiece creates a whole new genre, while still obeying the previously valid rules of the genre. In summary, every book institutes the existence of two genres: that of the genre it violates, which dominates the universal literature, and that of the genre it creates. Since its publication in 1965, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood has held an exclusive seat in American literary history. His augmentation to the genre of journalism, which he tagged the “non-fiction novel”, was the first cognizant pursuit to use novelistic devices while sticking to the protocols of journalism to spawn a new literary art form. Due to it’s distinctiveness and capacity to tell a story, In Cold Blood is an American classic.
In 1959, Capote set out to create a new literary genre - the non-fiction novel. He came across the Clutter murders while flipping through The New York Times. The article briefly outlined the quadruple murder of Herb Clutter, a wealthy Kansas farmer, as well as his wife and two kids. Capote pictured the case as the perfect subject for his upcoming project, which he specified as a long-form work of nonfiction. Capote was accompanied by his childhood friend and author of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. Lee, familiar with small-town life, gained the trust of Holcomb’s citizens faster than Capote ever could have, whose bombastic and flowery demeanor set him apart at the time of murders.
Despite Capote’s difficulty to mesh, the book was nonetheless an immediate sensation. There are several reasons why In Cold Blood was successful. The meticulousness of Capote’s writing is demonstrated in the very first sentence, “The village of Holcom...

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... to formulate the kind of legacy reserved only for the most influential literary masterpieces. Capote’s book remains one of the most compelling works of literature of the twentieth century, both for its fusing of journalistic and belletristic storytelling, and for its remarkable observation into the nature of evil in America. Its impact was, and still remains, monumental. Capote’s alluring ability to bemuse his reader despite a subject matter as doleful as this is something to ponder. He had the power to galvanize compassion and apprehension in equal part. The book’s suspense, despite readers knowing the outcome of the book from the start, is largely based on the obligation of gory details, and the concealing of them until the very end.

Works Cited

Malin, Irving. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood: A Critical Handbook. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub., 1968. Print.
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