Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a novella by Truman Capote published in 1958. The main character, Holly Golightly, is one of Capote’s best-known creations and an American cultural icon.

Plot

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.”[1]

Holly likes to stun 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.

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13 responses

  1. hola, Ramon – divendres vaig fer un “post” al llibre anterior … bastant llarg … pero no apareix …

    POTS MIRAR quelcom ? .. si es en algun lloc “temporal” … ???

    gracies !

    1. Ja surt, no se perquè l’havia bloquejat.

  2. Hello friends,

    It is always the same!! I start the novel with the good intention of looking for many of the words I don’t know in the dictionary. So, in the third sentence it says “brownstone”. No idea. I type it in Google translate and it translates as “brownstone” in catalan (a polite way of saying “I have no idea either”). Then I go to a proper dictionary and I choose Oxford dictionary online, there are many results, none of them matching with the context of the novel. At this point I start to guess what it means.

    Finally I find it in XXI century’s bible: the Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownstone

    It says: “The term is also used in the United States to refer to a terraced house (rowhouse) clad in this material.” Ahhhhhhh, those americans… 🙂

    Have a nice reading.

    Ramon at page 10th

    PD: Andrea, it is OK for me to meet at 19:00 instead of 19:30

  3. Andrea : Sebastian says OK to any hour should you prefer

    Ramon : this book has EXCELENT english works … Please DONT skip them using “a slight” idea of its meaning you could have – this author uses the words with high precision, and the novel is woth the effort to search few of them in
    >>> http://www.wordreference.com/

  4. Dear friends:
    I found a link about Breakfast at Tiffany’s with a glossary of terms very useful, and also in this home-page are interesting seccions
    http://www.gradesaver.com/breakfast-at-tiffanys/study-guide/glossary-of-terms/
    Andrea for me it’s O.K. meeting at seven oclo’k

  5. Thank you Assumpció, it is very useful.

    Anyway, there is a paragraph on page 14 I do not understand completely and seems interesting, it goes like this:

    “The next time a girl wants a little powder-room change,” she called not teasing at all, “take my advice, darling: don’t give her twenty-cents!”

    According to Assumpcio’s page, “powder-room” means bathroom, but… what is the whole meaning?

    Any ideas?

    Best.
    Ramon

  6. Ramon I try to explain what is my opinion about this paragraph, I think that Holly asked change (money) to her partners for to tip the person who cleans de bathroom in the fancy restaurants. Mr. Arbuck gave her twenty-cents and for Holly it meant a mean person, she later explains in the book: “any gent with the slightest chic will give you fifty (dollars) for the girl’s john”(bathroom).

    Best
    Assumpcio

  7. Hello, coleagues.
    I think the girl goes to powder her face (or her nose can be said) and has to give some coins to the person working there. By the way, if the gentleman gives her 50 dolars, she (Holly) keeps the change … jejeje .. making some money for living.
    My today’s recommendation(s) :
    (*) forget “Moon River” and Jose Luis de Villalonga – read the novel as brand new and you will find a completely diferent world that the one described in the Blake Edward’s film.
    By example, Tiffany’s only comes up 2 times in the novel and is not important at all, only the simbol of something “always nice”. Other interesting concepts are diving in the book, as the ida of “home” …
    (*) read the 3 small novels at the end of the book. 2 of them are EXCELLENT (++) and the thirs is also VERY GOOD (In My Humble Opinion).

    Yes, I did not expect a good book when I heard the title, but now must admit I am absolutely dazzled (deslumbrado) by the way mr Capote builds those beautiful phrases. An example from page 145 :

    “Dust turns the window into a mirror; our reflections mingle (se mezclan) with the rising moon as we work by the fireside in the firelight” …

    En Sebas.

  8. >>> http://shelflove.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/breakfast-at-tiffanys-review/

    The edition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s that I read includes three short stories: “House of Flowers,” “A Diamond Guitar” and “A Christmas Memory.” All three stories are great. They demonstrate Capote’s skill with both the sentimental and the subversive. In fact, I think they might even be superior to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

  9. >>> http://blogs.commercialappeal.com/the_shelf_life/2008/12/revisiting-tiffanys.html#more

    You can open the story at any random point, and you’ll never find a wrong note. I just turned to page 16 of the 50th anniversary edition Vintage International published in November ($13), when the narrator is still fascinated by his downstairs neighbor from a distance: “I discovered, from observing the trash-basket outside her door, that her regular reading consisted of tabloids and travel folders and astrological charts; that she smoked an esoteric cigarette called Picayunes; survived on cottage cheese and melba toast; that her vari-colored hair was somewhat self-induced. The same source made it evident that she received V-letters by the bale. They were always torn into strips like bookmarks…. Remember and miss you and rain and please write and damn and goddamn were the words that recurred most often on these slips; those, and lonesome and love.”

    And this is on page 30, where the Hollywood agent O. J. Berman offers his version of Ms. Golightly. “She isn’t a phony because she’s a real phony. She believes all this crap she believes. You can’t talk her out of it. I’ve tried with tears running down my cheeks. Benny Polan, respected everywhere, Benny Polan tried.” Somehow astrology charts and peroxide and the name Benny Polan drain the sentences of the kind of sentiment that swamped the movie version, with its maudlin “Moon River” soundtrack.

    Holly Golightly is the teenaged runaway whose striking appearance and prodigious confidence creates opportunities, first in Hollywood, then in New York, which she relentlessly subverts. She has careless sex, not for fun, but for money and favors. There is little difference between her pragmatism and a prostitute’s. Her men are wealthy and unattractive, a combination that is the key to her character. She’s an orphan from nowhere, an outsider; she can’t have important, eligible young men with money. Audrey Hepburn, who played Holly in the 1961 movie, is the inevitable image of the character now, but Capote didn’t like her for the part. His biographer Gerald Clarke says Capote’s vision of Holly tended more toward Marilyn Monroe, another self-made outsider.

  10. Assuncio : the glossary you pointed does not contain “I hate snoops”, from page 26.

    >>> http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=snoops

  11. Hello again,

    I’ve finished the book, very nice and difficult at the same time, I’m looking forward to discuss it with you. Because we have one more week, I will continue with the three stories as Sebastian recommends.

    Do you know that Truman Capote spent long stays in Palamós? Yes, it was after writing “Beakfast at Tiffanny’s” and when he was finishing “In Cold Blood”, it seems he was a peculiar guy…

    http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2010/04/26/actualidad/1272232805_850215.html

    If you don’t have enough money to go to New York on the next holidays, you can always go to Palamós, where they have a nice tour (even in english) remembering his stay there:

    http://www.palamos.cat/documents/agenda_agost.pdf

    Happy Christmas to all!

    Ramon

  12. Ramon – a very interesting URl you provided.

    But I dont know what they shall visit in the “tour”, as El Pais says
    “La lástima es que no se podrá visitar ninguna de las casas en las que vivió el escritor. La que tuvo en el pueblo fue derribada y se levantó otra nueva. La de cala Sanià es de propiedad privada. Sólo queda el hotel Trias, por donde de vez en cuando se deja ver Josep Colomer.”

    Let’s face it : (almost) all homosexuals are “peculiar”, jejeje
    Sebastian

    By the way : I will send you a PDF containing “A Christmas Memory” to include in the LitLove resources …

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