Print ISBN: 978-1-64265-661-9
# of Pages: 300
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $105
e-ISBN: 978-1-64265-662-6
eBook User Price: $
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Critical Insights: In Cold Blood

Editor: Nicolas Tredell
October 2020

Truman Capote’s compelling and harrowing account of the murder of the Clutter family and the subsequent trial and execution of the killers made a huge impact when first published in 1965, and continues to provoke controversy, find readers, and generate critical debate. This volume offers a rich range of perspectives on Capote’s major work, exploring it as a “non-fiction novel” and as a “true crime” story, tracing its reception by reviewers, critics and the general public, discussing its impact on the real-life community and individuals it describes, and examining the crucial ethical, judicial and penal issues it raises.

This volume, like all others in the Critical Insights series, is divided into several sections. It begins with an introductory piece, “Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood,” by contributor David Hayes, which offers a comprehensive introduction to the titular novel and poses the question of why In Cold Blood remains one of the most successful and popular true crime novels today, over fifty years after its first publication. This is followed by a Biography of Truman Capote, written by Angela Tredell.

A collection of four critical contexts essays are intended to treat the novel (1) from a historical vantage point, (2) in terms of its critical reception, (3) using a specific critical lens, and (4) by comparing and contrasting it with another important work. This section opens with an article by Shirley Rash titled, “’I’ll be damned if I’m the only killer in the courtroom’: Anti-Pastoralism, Violence, and Kansas Identity in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, followed by a piece written by Kelley Jeans, “Changing Perspectives: Critical Essays on In Cold Blood, 2000-2020.” This essay focuses on the critical responses, including early reviews from the novel’s release to later and more reflective critiques. The following two articles are written by Eric Wilson and volume editor Nicolas Tredell respectively. The first, “’Something radically wrong over at the Clutter place’: Mythic Truth, Monstrous Doubles, and the Killing of Nancy Clutter,” offers a particular critical lens by examining the novel in light of concepts and perspectives drawn from the French thinker René Girard. The final essay, “’Strange lights and intuitive speculation’: In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer’s The Armies of the Night” compares and contrasts Truman Capote’s and Norman Mailer’s novels.

Following these four Critical Context essays is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:

  • When Blending Genres, Is Immaculate Factuality Possible?, Gene L. Newgaard
  • The Treatment of Violence and Trauma in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Stephen Schaffrath
  • Redeemed by Its Literary Dimensions: Capote’s Novel in the Light of the Critical Response, Torsten Pettersson
  • Written in Cold Blood: The Phenomenology of Murder, Gary Lachman
  • “There must be something wrong with us” versus “A black widow spider can’t help it—but that’s the point”: Right and Wrong and Responsibility in In Cold Blood and Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit—Will Travel, Rafeeq O. McGiveron
  • What Happened in Kansas: Harper Lee’s Role in In Cold Blood, T. Madison Peschock
  • Bloodlines: Ethnicity and Otherness in In Cold Blood, Nicolas Tredell
  • Masculine/Feminine: In Cold Blood and the Crisis of Gender, Nicolas Tredell
  • In Cold Blood, the 1968 Film: A Survey of Reviews, Robert C. Evans
  • Questions Left Hanging: The 1996 Film of In Cold Blood, Nicolas Tredell

In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life. A selection of further reading is then provided. Each essay in Critical Insights: In Cold Blood includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. Also included in this volume is a Chronology of Truman Capote’s Life, a list of Works by Truman Capote, a Bibliography, biographies of the Editors and Contributors, and an alphabetical Index.

The Critical Insights Series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: In Cold Blood provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.

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