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  • Writer's pictureClaudio Fibonacci

The Scandalous Legacy of Truman Capote’s Unfinished Novel, Answered Prayers

The Unmaking of Truman Capote: A Tale of High Society Betrayal

The Unmaking of Truman Capote: A Tale of High Society Betrayal

The Incendiary Publication of “La Côte Basque”

The life of Truman Capote, once a celebrated author and darling of the high society, took a dramatic turn with the publication of “La Côte Basque” in Esquire’s November 1975 issue. This story, a fragment from his promised, yet never completed novel Answered Prayers, exposed the secrets of his closest friends, the very elite of society he had so intimately chronicled. The backlash was immediate and unforgiving, marking the beginning of Capote’s descent into social exile.

The Fallout from Capote’s Betrayal

The real-life counterparts to Capote’s characters were quick to recognize themselves in his scathing portrayal. Notably, the thinly veiled depictions of Babe Paley and her husband Bill, alongside other society luminaries, led to a swift and severe cutting of ties. Capote’s betrayal was not just seen as a personal affront but an unforgivable breach of trust within a circle that valued discretion above all else.

Immediate Repercussions

  1. Social Ostracization: Capote was immediately shunned by the very society that once embraced him, with close friends like Babe Paley severing ties.

  2. Legal Threats: Some, like Slim Keith, even considered suing Capote for libel, underscoring the depth of their betrayal.

  3. Public Denouncement: Public figures, including Gloria Vanderbilt, openly criticized Capote for his indiscretions, further cementing his fall from grace.

The Unfinished Symphony of Answered Prayers

Despite the furore “La Côte Basque” caused, Capote’s Answered Prayers remained an unfinished testament to his unrivaled talent and tumultuous final years. Promised as his magnum opus, it instead became a symbol of unfulfilled potential and the self-destructive path that led to his social and professional demise.

The Legacy of Capote’s Final Years

In the years following the scandal, Capote’s life was marred by addiction, failed attempts at reconciliation with his former friends, and a declining literary career. His death in 1984 left Answered Prayers forever incomplete, its published excerpts standing as a haunting reminder of what could have been.

Reflections on a Complicated Legacy

Truman Capote’s final years and the saga of Answered Prayers offer a complex portrait of a man who sought to lay bare the truth of his world, only to be consumed by it. In his quest for literary immortality, he sacrificed his place within the very society that inspired him, leaving behind a legacy as captivating and controversial as the tales he told.


The story of Truman Capote and Answered Prayers is a stark reminder of the delicate balance between truth and discretion, and the price of fame within the gilded cages of high society. As we reflect on Capote’s journey from celebrated author to social pariah, we are reminded of the enduring power of words to reveal, to wound, and ultimately, to immortalize.

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