This article explores the quality of lightness in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Precisely what kind of lightness do we find in the novel, what are some of its defining characteristics and what are the key strategies by which this effect is achieved? I begin by discussing the narrative’s readability, its linguistic transparency and its deliberate attenuation of supplementary meaning. This transparency, I would like to suggest, ultimately impedes our standard interpretative procedures, frustrating any attempt to reinstate (plausible) symbolic meaning. I then address in greater detail the “depthlessness” of the novel, its emphasis on surfaces and immediate legibility. Finally, I offer an analysis of Holly Golightly herself, making the argument that as a character she shares (and indeed determines) many of the novel’s lighter qualities — attaching supreme value to “the surface of things,” privileging the signifier over the signified and actively pursuing the freedom and mobility of non-meaning.


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pp. 128-148
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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