Breakfast at Tiffany's (novella)
|Breakfast at Tiffany's|
First edition cover
|Media type||Print (Hardback and paperback), e-book, audio-CD|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 20|
|LC Classification||PS3505.A59 A6 1993|
In autumn 1943, the unnamed narrator becomes friends with Holly Golightly, who calls him "Fred", after her older brother. The two are both tenants in a brownstone apartment in Manhattan's Upper East Side. Holly (age 18-19) is a country girl turned New York café society girl. As such, she has no job and lives by socializing with wealthy men, who take her to clubs and restaurants, and give her money and expensive presents; she hopes to marry one of them. According to Capote, Golightly is not a prostitute but an "American geisha."
Holly likes to shock people with carefully selected tidbits from her personal life or her outspoken viewpoints on various topics. Over the next year, she slowly reveals herself to the narrator, who finds himself fascinated by her curious lifestyle. In the end, Holly fears that she will never know what is really hers until after she has thrown it away. Their relationship ends in autumn 1944.
- Holly Golightly: The protagonist.
- Joe Bell: A bartender acquainted with both "Fred" and Holly.
- Mag Wildwood: Holly's friend and sometime roommate, a fellow socialite and model.
- Rusty Trawler: A presumed wealthy man, thrice divorced, well known in society circles.
- José Ybarra-Jaegar: A Brazilian diplomat, who is the companion of Mag Wildwood and, later, of Holly.
- Doc Golightly: A veterinarian from Texas, whom Holly married as a teenager.
- O. J. Berman: A Hollywood agent, who has discovered Holly and groomed her to become a professional actress.
- Salvatore "Sally" Tomato: A convicted racketeer, whom Holly visits weekly in Sing Sing prison.
- Madame Sapphia Spanella: Another tenant in the brownstone.
- Mr. I. Y. Yunioshi: A photographer, who lives in the top floor studio in the brownstone.
In early drafts of the story Holly was named Connie Gustafson; Capote later changed her name to Holiday Golightly. He apparently based the character of Holly on several different women, all friends or close acquaintances of his. Claims have been made as to the source of the character, the "real Holly Golightly", in what Capote called the "Holly Golightly Sweepstakes"; including socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, Oona Chaplin, writer/actress Carol Grace, writer Maeve Brennan, writer Doris Lilly, model Dorian Leigh (whom Capote dubbed "Happy Go Lucky"), and her sister, model Suzy Parker. Capote’s biographer Gerald Clarke wrote "half the women he knew ...claimed to be the model for his wacky heroine" Clarke also wrote of the similarities between the author himself and the character. There are also similarities between the lives of Holly and Capote's mother, Nina Capote; among other shared attributes both women were born in the rural south with similar "hick" birth names that they changed (Holly Golightly was born Lula Mae Barnes in Texas, Nina Capote was born Lillie Mae Faulk in Alabama), both left the husbands they married as teenagers and abandoned relatives they loved and were responsible for going to New York, and both achieved "café society" status through relationships with wealthier men, though Capote's mother was born two decades earlier than the fictional Holly Golightly. Capote was also unsuccessfully sued for libel and invasion of privacy by a Manhattan resident named Bonnie Golightly who claimed that he had based Holly on her.
The collection has been reprinted several times; the novella has been included in other Capote collections.
Literary significance and reception
In "Breakfast at Sally Bowles'", Ingrid Norton of Open Letters Monthly pointed out Capote's debt to Christopher Isherwood, one of his mentors, in creating the character of Holly Golightly: "Breakfast at Tiffany’s is in many ways Capote’s personal crystallization of [Isherwood's] Sally Bowles."
Truman Capote's aunt, Marie Rudisill notes that Holly is a kindred spirit of Miss Lily Jane Bobbit, the central character of his short story "Children on Their Birthdays." She observes that both characters are "unattached, unconventional wanderers, dreamers in pursuit of some ideal of happiness."
Capote himself acknowledged that Golightly was the favorite of his characters.
The novella was loosely adapted into the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany's starring Audrey Hepburn and directed by Blake Edwards. The movie was transposed to circa 1960 rather than the 1940s, the period of the novella. Capote originally envisioned Marilyn Monroe as Holly, and lobbied the studio for her. But, the film was done at Paramount, and though Monroe did independent films, including for her own production company, she was still under contract with Fox Studios, and had just completed 'Lets Make Love' with Yves Montand.
A musical version of Breakfast at Tiffany's (also known as Holly Golightly) premiered in 1966 in Boston. The initial performances were panned by the critics and despite a rewrite by Edward Albee, it closed after only four performances.
Three years after the musical adaptation, Stefanie Powers and Jack Kruschen starred in another adaptation, Holly Golightly (1969), an unsold ABC sitcom pilot. Kruschen's role was based on Joe Bell, a major character in Capote's novella who was omitted from the film version.
Playwright Samuel Adamson adapted the novella into a play for a 2009 production at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London, directed by Sean Mathias and starring Anna Friel as Holly Golightly and Joseph Cross as William 'Fred' Parsons.
Playwright Richard Greenberg also adapted the novella into a play, this one for a 2013 production at the Cort Theatre in New York City, with direction once again by Sean Mathias and starring Emilia Clarke as Holly Golightly and Cory Michael Smith as Fred.
- A 1968 interview with Playboy magazine contains the following exchange. Playboy: Would you elaborate on your comment that Holly was the prototype of today's liberated female and representative of a "whole breed of girls who live off men but are not prostitutes. They're our version of the geisha girl..."? Capote: Holly Golightly was not precisely a call girl. She had no job, but accompanied expense-account men to the best restaurants and night clubs, with the understanding that her escort was obligated to give her some sort of gift, perhaps jewelry or a check ... if she felt like it, she might take her escort home for the night. So these girls are the authentic American geishas, and they're much more prevalent now than in 1943 or 1944, which was Holly's era. Reprinted in a 2009 New Yorker article.
- A. Kimball and Christina Shelby. ClassicNote: Breakfast at Tiffany's - Sections 14, 15, and 16: Analysis, completed on June 06, 2006 (Kimball); updated and revised by Christina Shelby June 19, 2006. Retrieved 2013-03-29. See also the bibliography for the critique.
- "Hello Im Holly". The Times (London). 7 February 2004.
- Clarke, Capote, pp. 94-5, 313-4
- Saxon, Wolfgang (24 July 2003). "Carol Matthau, a Frank and Tart Memoirist, Dies at 78". The New York Times.
- "Maeve Golightly?". Publishersweekly.com. 25 October 2004. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
- "Doris Lilly; Author, Columnist". Los Angeles Times. 11 October 1991.
- "Dorian Leigh: 'Supermodel' of the 1940s". The Independent (London). 14 July 2008.
- Gerald Clarke, Capote: A Biography (Ballantine, 1989), p. 314.
- Gerald Clarke, Capote: A Biography (Ballantine, 1989), Chs. 11–13.
- Rudisill, Marie; Simmons, James C. Truman Capote: The Story of His Bizarre and Exotic Boyhood by an Aunt Who Helped to Raise Him (William Morrow, 1983), p. 92.
- Clarke, Gerald. Capote: A Biography (Ballantine, 1989), p. 313.
- Clarke, Gerald (2005). Capote: A Biography. Carroll & Graf Publishers. pp. 313–314. ISBN 0-7867-1661-4.
- "Manuscript of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" up for auction". CBS News. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- "Review of Sally Bowles and Breakfest at Tiffany's - Open Letters Monthly - an Arts and Literature Review". Openlettersmonthly.com. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
- Rudisill, Marie; Simmons, James C. The Southern Haunting of Truman Capote (Nashville, Tennessee: Cumberland House, 2000), page 100.
- Mailer, Norman (1959). Advertisements for Myself. Harvard University Press. p. 465. ISBN 0-674-00590-2. "...he is the most perfect writer of my generation, he writes the best sentences word for word, rhythm upon rhythm. I would not have changed two words in Breakfast at Tiffany's which will become a small classic."
- Davis, Deborah (2007). Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and his Black and White Ball. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 141–142. ISBN 978-0-470-09821-9.
- Sookdeo, Niqui (17 July 2009). "Dreyfus to join cast of Breakfast at Tiffany’s". The Stage. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
- Capote, Truman (1973). The Dogs Bark: Public People and Private Places (1st ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-48751-9.
- Clarke, Gerald (1988). Capote, A Biography (1st ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-241-12549-6.
- Davis, Deborah (2006). Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and His Black and White Ball (1st ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 978-0-471-65966-2.
- Plimpton, George (1997). Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances, and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career (1st ed.). New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-23249-7.
- Rudisill, Marie; Simmons, James (2000). The Southern Haunting of Truman Capote (1st ed.). Nashville, Tennessee: Cumberland House. ISBN 1-58182-136-0.