In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song: a generic reconception
In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song invite examination in that they represent polar versions of the nonfiction novel, an intriguing genre whose boundaries have yet to be adequately defined. Previous attempts to formulate a theory of the genre of the nonfiction novel by Tom Wolfe, John Hollowell, and John Hellmann have yielded useful contributions to a theoretical conception of the genre, but they fall short because the three studies neglect critical dimensions of genre theory. Additionally, the three theoretical conceptions exhibit difficulty in accounting for the factual content of novelistic works. The following thesis is an attempt to redefine the nonfiction novel in order to arrive at a renewed conception of In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song. The first section examines the theoretical formulations of the nonfiction novel offered by Wolfe, Hollowell, and Hellmann. A section on the genre theory of E. D. Hirsch and Mikhail Bakhtin suggests a means of arriving at a new conception of the nonfiction novel and leads to a succeeding section in which the nonfiction novel is redefined. The final section examines In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song in light of the approach derived from Hirsch and Bakhtin.