Wild Young Minds: Truman Capote: the forerunner of Gossip Girl?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Truman Capote: the forerunner of Gossip Girl?

When I thought about Truman Capote, I always thought about this chubby, bold guy who wrote 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. All true of course, but there was so much more to him. The homosexual Truman Capote, who was born in New Orleans, lived the life of the rich and famous, but also suffered from alcoholism, drug addiction and mental problems. Definitely not a boring life. When you add a few scandals, you can imagine Truman Capote's life wasn't all glamour. After reading the article about Capote in Vanity Fair's december issue, I found out Capote's story has many links with current shows as Gossip Girl. Some similarities are very striking.

Truman Capote began writing at the age of 11, after the divorce of his parents. This made him a lonely boy, one of the reasons he taught himself to read and write. He recalled coming home from school as a little boy, writing short stories for 3 hours. After Capote and his mother moved to New York in 1933, he attended several schools, among which Military School, Greenwich High School and Franklin School. In 1943 he began working as a copy boy at 'The New Yorker', where he was fired 2 years later because he made poet Robert Frost angry.

Whereupon, Capote started writing lots of short stories and many great novels later, of which the most famous are 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', 'In Cold Blood' and 'Other Voices, Other Rooms'. Though Capote was openly homosexual, he spent a lot of time with beautiful and rich ladies, like Gloria Vanderbilt and Lee Radziwill (Jackie O's sister). Capote himself didn't grew up that rich, but he had an obsession with the Upper East Side people and managed to get himself in the crowd. Those people loved him; he was a great story teller and had a charming way of behaving (though he wasn't that good looking ;))

His friendships with many of the forerunners of the it-girls, didn't prevent him from writing gossip or true stories (who knows?) about them. This is where Gossip Girl comes in. Whoever has seen the show, will know the book Dan Humphrey writes in one of the last seasons: Inside. Every chapter is about another character, who also are his friends. Though he says he was writing the truth, you can ask yourself: is it a moral thing to do? He lost a lot of friends by doing this, but he had always been an outsider: a boy from Brooklyn in the Upper East Side, longing to become part of the rich and famous.

40 years earlier, Truman Capote did the same kind of thing. The book where the article in Vanity Fair is about, 'Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Story', contained one chapter, 'La Côte Basque 1965', that provoked a lot of scheme. It was published as an individual chapter in Esquire Magazine (just like the chapters of Inside were published in Vanity Fair and the Spectator) and marks the social suicide of Truman Capote. He calls his female friends 'swans' in the chapter, in stead of their real names but everyone knew who he was talking about.

Until his death in 1984 (he died at the age of 59 of liver cancer) he didn't make up with many of his friends. They felt betrayed and Capote felt he was writing the truth. Maybe it's because he never fully became part of the elite in New York, felt a bit of an outsider anyway, or he just found fame and writing more important than his friendships. He did leave some outstanding books behind and a few unfinished ones (like 'Answered Prayers'). Truman Capote was a genius, but destroyed by vanity (Vanity Fair!), alcohol and drugs. 'All literature is gossip', he once said. And maybe he was right, fact is true that Gossip Girl was inspired by Truman Capote, just in another appearance ;)

1 comment:

  1. i started to read capote for a juornalism class, and i thinked OMG Dan´s life is really similar to capote´s life. i found it on google and i´m here.xoxo