Non-fiction novel  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The nonfiction novel is a literary genre, formally established in 1965 with Truman Capote's publication of In Cold Blood. In theory, the genre represents real events, while narrativizing these events with techniques of fiction. Though Capote claimed that the nonfiction novel should be devoid of first-person narration (and ideally any mention of the novelist), in the publications subsequent to In Cold Blood, many authors tested the form's "original" concept including Hunter S. Thompson (who produced Hell's Angels the year after), and Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe (with Armies of the Night and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in 1968).

That the nonfiction novel was formally recognized as a genre in 1965 is undeniable, while the extent to which the genre was "invented" depends upon the extent to which it includes the history or the biography, for example. In Wolfe's school of New Journalism (another supposed "invention" of the mid-sixties), the novel is hybridized with journalistic narration, which, like Capote's prose, place little emphasis on the process of narration (though Wolfe, unlike Capote, occasionally narrates from first-person). Thompson's approach, which a critic coined as Gonzo Journalism, is another departure from the non-fiction novel's expansion of possibilities for writers, especially of the counter-culture. Mailer's Pulitzer Prize-winning Armies of the Night is however the most critically appreciated rendition of this hybrid genre, a narrative which is split into a history and a novel, and which autobiographically recounts the March on the Pentagon in 1967 from the third person.

Though few writers currently take on the endeavor of a "nonfiction novel," forms such as the extended essay, the memoir, and the biography (and autobiography) have been further experimented with since this 1965 distinction. Joan Didion, for instance, has never called her own work a "nonfiction novel," while she has been repeatedly credited for doing so with what she generally calls "extended" or "long" essays. As many of her works might show, the "nonfiction novel" is an incredibly flexible genre which relates fundamentally between the relationship between "reality" and "fiction" in any narrative. Because of the universality of this theme, and because of the potential over-applicability of the generic title, the "nonfiction novel" is surrounded by theoretical obscurity. Despite this obscurity -- which is mostly the result of critics rather than authors themselves -- the generic identification of the "nonfiction novel" has been used since Capote's version as a tool for narrative experimentation, as well as for the underlying suggestion of "reality" being represented by "nonfiction."

From the faction (literature) article

In literature, faction is a neologism used to describe a works based on real historical figures and actual events, woven together with fictional writing. The word "faction" is a portmanteau of "fact" and "fiction". An example of faction is Tom Stoppard's Travesties (1974), which includes Tristan Tzara, Lenin, and James Joyce as characters; and most of Borges's factitious tales.

Faction is often disliked as confusing to people who are trying to find facts. For example, schoolchildren told to look for historical information are liable to be confused by faction.

Faction is not a new phenomenon. Geoffrey of Monmouth was an all too successful faction writer in the 12th century, and later the historian Holinshed was led into error by treating Geoffrey of Monmouth's writings as truth.

"In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote is a good example of faction and is considered to be the first piece in the genre of nonfiction novels.

Another famous example is the story of author Alex Haley and his entire family history for 9 generations in the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Non-fiction novel" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Non-fiction novel" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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