( ; born January 1,
1919) is an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The
Catcher in the Rye
, as well as his reclusive
nature. He has not published an original
work since 1965 and has not been interviewed since 1980.
Manhattan, Salinger began writing short stories while in
secondary school, and published several stories in the early 1940s
before serving in World War II.
In 1948 he published the critically acclaimed story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish
in The New Yorker
which became home to much of his subsequent work. In 1951 Salinger
released his novel The Catcher in the Rye
, an immediate
popular success. His depiction of adolescent
alienation and loss of innocence in
the protagonist Holden Caulfield
especially among adolescent readers. The novel remains widely read
and controversial, selling around 250,000 copies a year.
The success of The Catcher in the Rye
led to public
attention and scrutiny: Salinger became reclusive, publishing new
work less frequently. He followed Catcher
with a short
story collection, Nine
(1953), a collection of a novella
and a short story, Franny and Zooey
(1961), and a
collection of two novellas,
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An
(1963). His last published work, a novella
entitled "Hapworth 16, 1924
appeared in The New Yorker
on June 19, 1965.
Afterward, Salinger struggled with unwanted attention, including a
legal battle in the 1980s with biographer Ian Hamilton
and the release in the
late 1990s of memoirs written by two people close to him: Joyce Maynard
, an ex-lover; and Margaret
Salinger, his daughter. In 1996, a small publisher announced a deal
with Salinger to publish "Hapworth 16,
" in book form, but amid the ensuing publicity, the release
was indefinitely delayed. He made headlines around the globe in
June 2009, after filing a lawsuit against another writer for
copyright infringement resulting from that writer's use of one of
Salinger's characters from Catcher in the Rye
David Salinger was born in Manhattan, New
York, on New Year's Day,
His mother, Marie Jillich, was half-Scottish
. His father, Sol Salinger, was of
origin who sold kosher
mother changed her name to Miriam and passed as Jewish
. Salinger did not find out that his mother was
not Jewish until just after his bar
. He had one sibling: his sister Doris
The young Salinger attended public schools on the West Side of
Manhattan, then moved to the private McBurney School
for ninth and tenth grade.
He acted in several plays and "showed an innate talent for drama,"
though his father was opposed to the idea of J.D. becoming an
was happy to get away from his over-protective mother by entering
the Valley Forge
Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
Though he had written for the school
newspaper at McBurney, at Valley Forge Salinger began writing
stories "under the covers [at night], with the aid of a
flashlight." He started his freshman year at New York
University in 1936, and considered studying special education, but dropped out the
following spring. That fall, his father urged him to learn
about the meat-importing business and he was sent to work at a
company in Vienna, Austria.
He left Austria only a month or so before it was annexed by Nazi
Germany, on March 12, 1938. He attended Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, for only one semester.
In 1939, Salinger
attended a Columbia University
evening writing class taught by Whit
, longtime editor of Story
magazine. According to Burnett,
Salinger did not distinguish himself until a few weeks before the
end of the second semester, at which point "he suddenly came to
life" and completed three stories. Burnett told Salinger that his
stories were skillful and accomplished, and accepted "The Young Folks
", a vignette
about several aimless youths,
for publication in Story
. Salinger's debut short story was
published in the magazine's March-April 1940 issue. Burnett became
Salinger's mentor, and they corresponded for several years.
World War II
In 1941, Salinger started dating Oona
, daughter of the playwright Eugene O'Neill
. Despite finding the debutante
self-absorbed (he confided to a friend that "Little Oona's
hopelessly in love with little Oona"), he called her often and
wrote her long letters. Their relationship ended when Oona began
seeing Charlie Chaplin
, whom she
eventually married. In late 1941, Salinger briefly worked on a
Caribbean cruise ship, serving as
an activity director and possibly as a performer.
The same year, Salinger began submitting short stories to
The New Yorker
. A selective
magazine, it rejected seven of Salinger's stories that year,
including "Lunch for Three," "Monologue for a Watery Highball," and
"I Went to School with Adolf Hitler." In December 1941, however, it
accepted "Slight Rebellion
," a Manhattan-set story about a disaffected
teenager named Holden Caulfield
with "pre-war jitters." When Japan carried out the attack on
Pearl Harbor that month, the story was rendered "unpublishable";
it did not appear in the magazine until 1946.
In the spring
of 1942, several months after the United States entered World War II
, Salinger was drafted
into the Army,
where he saw combat with the 12th Infantry Regiment
, 4th Infantry Division
active at Utah
Beach on D-Day and in the Battle of the Bulge.
During the campaign from Normandy into Germany, Salinger arranged
to meet with Ernest Hemingway
writer who had influenced him and was working as a war
correspondent in Paris. Salinger was impressed with Hemingway's
friendliness and modesty, finding him more "soft" than his gruff
public persona. Hemingway was impressed by Salinger's writing, and
remarked: "Jesus, he has a helluva talent." The two writers began
corresponding; Salinger wrote Hemingway in July 1946 that their
talks were among his few positive memories of the war. Salinger
added that he was working on a play about Holden Caulfield, the
protagonist of his story "Slight Rebellion off Madison," and hoped
to play the part himself.
Salinger was assigned to a counter-intelligence
division, where he
used his proficiency in French and German to interrogate prisoners of war
. He was also among the
first soldiers to enter a liberated concentration camp
experiences in the war affected him emotionally. He was
hospitalized for a few weeks for combat stress reaction
was defeated, and he later told his daughter: "You never really get
the smell of burning flesh out of your nose entirely, no matter how
long you live." Both of his biographers speculate that Salinger
drew upon his wartime experiences in several stories, such as
– with Love and Squalor
," which is narrated by a traumatized
soldier. Salinger wrote while serving, and published several
stories in slick magazines such as Collier's
and the Saturday Evening Post
continued to submit stories to The New Yorker
, but with
little success; it rejected all of his submissions from 1944 to
1946, and in 1945 rejected a group of 15 poems.
After Germany's defeat, Salinger signed up for a six-month period
" duty in Germany
for the CIC
in Weißenburg, and, soon after married a woman named Sylvia
He brought her to the United States in April 1946,
but the marriage fell apart after eight months and Sylvia returned
to Germany. Some time later in 1972, Salinger's daughter Margaret
was with him when he received a letter from Sylvia. He looked at
the envelope, and without reading it, tore it apart. It was the
first time he had heard from her since the breakup, but as Margaret
put it, "when he was finished with a person, he was through with
In 1946, Whit Burnett agreed to help Salinger publish a collection
of his short stories through Story
Imprint. Titled The Young Folks
, the collection was to
consist of twenty stories — ten, like the title story and "Slight
Rebellion off Madison," were already in print; ten were previously
unpublished. Though Burnett implied the book would be published and
even negotiated Salinger a $1,000 advance on its sale, Lippincott
overruled Burnett and rejected the book. Salinger blamed Burnett
for the book's failure to see print, and the two became
By the late 1940s, Salinger had become an avid follower of Zen Buddhism
, to the point that he "gave
reading lists on the subject to his dates" and arranged a meeting
with Buddhist scholar D. T. Suzuki
. In 1948,
he submitted a short story titled "A Perfect Day for Bananafish
to The New Yorker
. The magazine was so impressed with "the
singular quality of the story" that its editors accepted it for
publication immediately, and signed Salinger to a contract that
allowed them right of first
on any future stories. The critical acclaim accorded
"Bananafish", coupled with problems Salinger had with stories being
altered by the "slicks", led him to publish almost exclusively in
The New Yorker
. "Bananafish" was also the first of
Salinger's published stories to feature the Glasses
, a fictional family consisting of two
performers and their
seven precocious children: Seymour
Buddy, Boo Boo, Walt, Waker, Zooey, and Franny. Salinger eventually
published seven stories about the Glasses, developing a detailed
family history and focusing particularly on Seymour, the troubled
In the early 1940s, Salinger had confided in a letter to Whit
Burnett that he was eager to sell the film rights to some of his
stories in order to achieve financial security. According to Ian
Hamilton, Salinger was disappointed when "rumblings from Hollywood"
over his 1943 short story "The
" came to nothing. Therefore he immediately
agreed when, in mid-1948, independent film producer Samuel Goldwyn
offered to buy the film rights
to his short story "Uncle
Wiggily in Connecticut
." Though Salinger sold his story with
the hope — in the words of his agent Dorothy Olding — that it
"would make a good movie," the film version of "Wiggily" was
lambasted by critics upon its release in 1949. Renamed My Foolish Heart
and Susan Hayward
, the melodramatic film departed
to such an extent from Salinger's story that Goldwyn biographer
referred to it as a “bastardization
”. As a result of this
experience, Salinger never again permitted film adaptations
to be made from his
The Catcher in the Rye
In the 1940s, Salinger confided to several people that he was
working on a novel featuring Holden Caulfield, the teenage
protagonist of his short story "Slight Rebellion off Madison," and
The Catcher in the
was published on July 16, 1951. The novel's plot is
simple, detailing seventeen-year-old Holden's experiences in New
York City following his expulsion, and departure, from an elite
. The book is
more notable for the iconic persona and testimonial voice of its
Holden. He serves as an insightful but unreliable narrator
who expounds on the
importance of loyalty, the "phoniness" of adulthood, and his own
duplicity. In a 1953 interview with a high-school newspaper,
Salinger admitted that the novel was "sort of" autobiographical,
explaining that "My boyhood was very much the same as that of the
boy in the book.… [I]t was a great relief telling people about
Initial reactions to the book were mixed, ranging from The New York Times'
s hailing of
as "an unusually brilliant first novel" to
denigrations of the book's monotonous language and the "immorality
and perversion" of Holden, who uses religious slurs and freely
discusses casual sex and prostitution
The novel was a popular success; within two months of its
publication, The Catcher in the Rye
had been reprinted
eight times. It spent thirty weeks on the New York Times Bestseller
The book's initial success was followed by a brief lull in
popularity, but by the late 1950s, according to Ian Hamilton, it
had "become the book all brooding adolescents had to buy, the
indispensable manual from which cool styles of disaffectation could
be borrowed." Newspapers began publishing articles about the
"Catcher Cult", and the novel was banned in several countries – as
well as some U.S. schools – because of its subject matter and what
Riley Hughes called an "excessive use of amateur swearing and
coarse language". One diligent parent counted 237 appearances of
the word "goddam" in the novel, along with 58 "bastard"s, 31
"Chrissake"s, and 6 "fuck"s.
In the 1970s, several U.S. high school teachers who assigned the
book were fired or forced to resign. In 1979 one book-length study
of censorship noted that The Catcher in the Rye
dubious distinction of being at once the most frequently censored
book across the nation and the second-most frequently taught novel
in public high schools [after John
's Of Mice and
]." The book remains widely read; as of 2004, the novel
was selling about 250,000 copies per year, "with total worldwide
sales over 65 million."
In the wake of its 1950s success, Salinger received (and rejected)
numerous offers to adapt The Catcher in the Rye
screen, including one from Samuel Goldwyn. Since its publication,
there has been sustained interest in the novel among filmmakers,
with Billy Wilder
, Harvey Weinstein
, and Steven Spielberg
among those seeking to
secure the rights. Salinger stated in the 1970s that "Jerry Lewis
tried for years to get his hands on
the part of Holden." The author has repeatedly refused, though, and
in 1999, Joyce Maynard definitively concluded: "The only person who
might ever have played Holden Caulfield would have been J. D.
Writing in the 1950s and move to Cornish
In a July 1951 profile in Book of the Month Club News
Salinger's friend and New Yorker
editor William Maxwell
about his literary influences. Salinger responded: "A writer, when
he's asked to discuss his craft, ought to get up and call out in a
loud voice just the names of the writers he loves. I love Kafka
, E. Brontë
, Henry James
. I won't name any living
writers. I don't think it's right." In letters written in the
1940s, Salinger had expressed his admiration of three living, or
recently-deceased, writers: Sherwood
, Ring Lardner
F. Scott Fitzgerald
; Ian Hamilton wrote
that Salinger even saw himself for some time as "Fitzgerald's
successor." Salinger's "A
Perfect Day For Bananafish
" has an ending similar to that of
Fitzgerald's earlier published short story "May Day."
After several years of practicing Zen Buddhism, in 1952, while
reading the gospels of Hindu
teacher Sri Ramakrishna
wrote friends of a momentous change in his life. He became an
adherent of Ramakrishna's Advaita
Hinduism, which advocated celibacy for those seeking
enlightenment, and detachment from human responsibilities such as
family. Salinger's religious studies were reflected in some of his
writing. The story "Teddy
" features a
ten-year-old child who expresses Vedantic
insights. He also studied the writings of Ramakrishna's disciple
; in the story "Hapworth 16, 1924
," the character of
Seymour Glass describes him as "one of the most exciting, original
and best-equipped giants of this century."
In 1953, Salinger published a collection of seven stories from
The New Yorker
("Bananafish" among them), as well as two
that the magazine had rejected. The collection was published as
United States, and For Esmé – with
Love and Squalor
in the UK, after one of Salinger's
best-known stories. The book received grudgingly positive reviews,
and was a financial success – "remarkably so for a volume of short
stories," according to Hamilton. Nine Stories
months on the New York Times
Bestseller list. Already
tightening his grip on publicity, though, Salinger refused to allow
publishers of the collection to depict his characters in dust
jacket illustrations, lest readers form preconceived notions of
As the notoriety of The Catcher in the Rye
gradually withdrew from public view. In 1953, he moved
from New York to Cornish, New
Early in his time at Cornish he was relatively sociable,
particularly with students at Windsor High School. Salinger invited
them to his house frequently to play records and talk about
problems at school. One such student, Shirley Blaney, persuaded
Salinger to be interviewed for the high school page of The
, the city paper. However, after Blaney's interview
appeared prominently in the newspaper's editorial section, Salinger
cut off all contact with the high schoolers without explanation. He
was also seen less frequently around town, meeting only one close
friend—jurist Learned Hand
Marriage, family, and religious beliefs
In June 1955, at the age of 36, Salinger married Claire Douglas, a
student. They had two
children, Margaret (b. December 10, 1955) and Matthew
(b. February 13, 1960). Margaret
Salinger wrote in her memoir Dream Catcher
believes her parents would not have married, nor would she have
been born, had her father not read the teachings of Lahiri Mahasaya
, a guru of Paramahansa Yogananda
, which brought
the possibility of enlightenment to those following the path of the
"householder" (a married person with children). After their marriage,
J.D. and Claire were initiated into the path of Kriya yoga in a small store-front Hindu temple in
D.C., during the summer of 1955.
They received a
mantra and breathing exercises to practice for ten minutes twice a
Salinger also insisted that Claire drop out of school and live with
him, only four months shy of graduation, which she did. Certain
elements of the story "Franny", published in January, 1955, are
based on his relationship with Claire, including her ownership of
the book The Way of the
. Because of their isolated location and Salinger's
proclivities, they hardly saw other people for long stretches of
time. Claire was also frustrated by J.D.'s ever-changing religious
beliefs. Though she committed herself to Kriya yoga, she remembered
that Salinger would chronically leave Cornish to work on a story
"for several weeks only to return with the piece he was supposed to
be finishing all undone or destroyed and some new 'ism' we had to
follow." Claire believed "it was to cover the fact that Jerry had
just destroyed or junked or couldn't face the quality of, or
couldn't face publishing, what he had created."
After abandoning Kriya yoga, Salinger tried Dianetics
(the forerunner of Scientology
), even meeting its founder L. Ron Hubbard
but according to Claire he was quickly disenchanted with it. This
was followed by adherence to a number of spiritual, medical, and
nutritional belief systems including Christian Science
, the teachings of Edgar Cayce
, fasting, vomiting to remove
impurities, megadoses of Vitamin C
, "speaking in tongues"
(or Charismatic glossolalia
), and sitting in a Reichian
"orgone box" to accumulate "orgone energy
Salinger's family life was further marked by discord after the
first child was born; according to Margaret, Claire felt that her
daughter had replaced her in Salinger's affections. The infant
Margaret was sick much of the time, but Salinger, having embraced
the tenets of Christian Science
refused to take her to a doctor. According to Margaret, her mother
admitted to her years later that she went "over the edge" in the
winter of 1957 and had made plans to murder her thirteen-month-old
infant and then commit suicide. Claire had intended to do it during
a trip to New York City with Salinger, but she instead acted on a
sudden impulse to take Margaret from the hotel and run away. After
a few months, Salinger persuaded her to return to Cornish.
Last publications and Maynard relationship
Salinger published Franny and
in 1961, and
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An
in 1963. Each book contained two short
stories or novellas
, previously published in
The New Yorker
, about members of the Glass family. On the
dust jacket of Franny and Zooey
, Salinger wrote, in
reference to his interest in privacy: "It is my rather subversive
opinion that a writer's feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the
second most valuable property on loan to him during his working
On September 15, 1961, Time
magazine devoted its cover to
Salinger. In an article that profiled his "life of recluse", the
magazine reported that the Glass family series "is nowhere near
completion…Salinger intends to write a Glass trilogy". However,
Salinger has published only one other story since: "Hapworth 16, 1924
," an epistolary novella
in the form of a long letter from seven-year-old Seymour Glass from
summer camp. It took up most of the June 19, 1965 issue of The
. Around this time, Salinger had isolated Claire
from friends and relatives and made her – in the words of Margaret
Salinger – "a virtual prisoner". Claire separated from him in
September 1966; their divorce was finalized on October 3,
In 1972, at the age of 53, Salinger had a year-long relationship
with 18-year-old Joyce Maynard
already an experienced writer for Seventeen
magazine. The New York Times
had asked Maynard
to write an article for them which, when published as " An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back On Life
April 23, 1972, made her a celebrity. Salinger wrote a letter to
her warning about living with fame. After exchanging 25 letters, Maynard
moved in with Salinger the summer after her freshman year at
Maynard did not return to Yale that fall, and spent ten months as a
guest in Salinger's Cornish home. The relationship ended, he told
his daughter Margaret at a family outing, because Maynard wanted
children, and he felt he was too old. However, in her own
autobiography, Maynard paints a different picture, saying Salinger
abruptly ended the relationship and refused to take her back. She
had dropped out of Yale to be with him, even forgoing a
scholarship. Maynard later writes in her own memoir how she came to
find out that Salinger had begun relationships with young women by
exchanging letters. One of those letter recipients included
Salinger's current wife, a nurse who was already engaged to be
married to someone else when she met the author.
While he was living with Maynard, Salinger continued to write in a
disciplined fashion, a few hours every morning. According to
Maynard, by 1972 he had completed two new novels. In a rare 1974
interview with The New York Times
, he explained: "There is
a marvelous peace in not publishing.… I like to write. I love to
write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure." According
to Maynard, he saw publication as "a damned interruption". In her
memoir, Margaret Salinger describes the detailed filing system her
father had for his unpublished manuscripts: "A red mark meant, if I
die before I finish my work, publish this 'as is,' blue meant
publish but edit first, and so on."
Legal conflicts in 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s
Although Salinger tried to escape public exposure as much as
possible, he continued to struggle with unwanted attention from
both the media and the public. Readers of his work and students from nearby
College often came to Cornish in groups, hoping to catch a
glimpse of him.
Upon learning in 1986 that the British
writer Ian Hamilton
to publish In Search of J.D. Salinger: A Writing Life
, a biography including letters Salinger had written
to other authors and friends, Salinger sued to stop the book's
publication. The book was finally published in 1988 with the
letters' contents paraphrased. The court ruled that Hamilton's
extensive use of the letters went beyond the limits of fair use
, and that "the author of letters is
entitled to a copyright in the letters, as with any other work of
An unintended consequence
the lawsuit was that many details of Salinger's private life,
including that he had spent the last twenty years writing, in his
words, "Just a work of fiction.… That's all", became public in the
form of court transcripts. Excerpts from his letters were also
widely disseminated, most notably a bitter remark written in
response to Oona O'Neill
's marriage to
Salinger was romantically involved with television actress Elaine Joyce
for several years in the 1980s.
The relationship ended when he met Colleen O'Neill (b. June 11,
1959), a nurse and quiltmaker, whom he married around 1988.
O'Neill, forty years his junior, once told Margaret Salinger that
she and Salinger were trying to have a child.
Iranian director Dariush
Mehrjui released the film Pari, an unauthorized and loose adaptation
of Salinger's Franny and Zooey. Though the film could
be distributed legally in Iran since the country has no official
copyright relations with the United States, Salinger had his
lawyers block a planned screening of the film at the Lincoln
Center in 1998.
Mehrjui called Salinger's action
"bewildering", explaining that he saw his film as "a kind of
In 1996 Salinger gave a small publisher, Orchises Press, permission
to publish "Hapworth 16, 1924
the previously uncollected novella. It was to be published that
year, and listings for it appeared at Amazon.com
and other book-sellers. After a flurry
of articles and critical reviews of the story appeared in the
press, the publication date was pushed back repeatedly before
apparently being cancelled altogether. Amazon anticipated that
Orchises would publish the story in January 2009, however as of May
2009 it is no longer listed.
In June 2009 Salinger consulted lawyers about the upcoming
publication in the US of an unauthorized sequel to The Catcher
in the Rye
written by Swedish book publisher Fredrik Colting
under the pseudonym J. D. California. California's book is called
Later: Coming Through the Rye
, and appears to pick up the
story of Salinger's protagonist Holden Caulfield. In Salinger's
1951 classic, Caulfield is 16 years old, wandering the streets of
New York after being expelled from his private school; the
California book features a 76-year-old man, "Mr. C", musing on
having escaped his nursing home. Salinger has refused to comment.
His New York literary agent Phyllis Westberg told the British
newspaper Sunday Telegraph
: "The matter has been turned
over to a lawyer." The fact that little is known about the author
and that the book is being published by a new publishing imprint
called Windupbird Publishing has given rise to speculation in
literary circles that the whole thing may be a stunt. District
court judge Deborah A. Batts
issued an injunction
which prevents the book from being
published within the U.S. The book's author filed an appeal on July
23, 2009; it will be heard in the Second Circuit Court of
In 1999, twenty-five years after the end of their relationship,
Joyce Maynard put up for auction a series of letters Salinger had
written to her. Maynard's memoir of her life and her relationship
with Salinger, At Home in the World: A Memoir
published the same year. Among other indiscretions, the book
described how Maynard's mother had consulted with her on how to
appeal to the aging author (dressing like a child), and described
Maynard's relationship with him at length. In the ensuing
controversy over both the memoir and the letters, Maynard claimed
that she was forced to auction the letters for financial reasons;
she would have preferred to donate them to Beinecke
Software developer Peter Norton
bought the letters for $156,500
and announced his intention to return them to Salinger.
Margaret Salinger's memoir Dream
, its cover featuring a rare photograph of
A year later, Salinger's daughter Margaret, by his second wife
Claire Douglas, published Dream Catcher: A Memoir
. In her
book, Ms. Salinger described the harrowing control Salinger had
over her mother and dispelled many of the Salinger myths
established by Ian Hamilton's book. One of Hamilton's arguments was
that Salinger's experience with posttraumatic stress disorder
left him psychologically scarred, and that he was unable to deal
with the traumatic nature of his war service. Though Ms. Salinger
allowed that "the few men who lived through "Bloody Mortain
", a battle in which
her father fought were left with much to sicken them, body and
soul," she also painted a picture of her father as a man immensely
proud of his service record, maintaining his military haircut,
service jacket, and moving about his compound (and town) in an old
Both Margaret Salinger and Maynard characterized the author as a
devoted film buff. According to Margaret, his favorite movies
, The Lady Vanishes
The 39 Steps
(Phoebe's favorite movie in The Catcher in the Rye
the comedies of W.C. Fields
, Laurel and
, and the Marx Brothers
Predating VCRs, Salinger had an extensive collection of classic
movies from the 1940s in 16 mm prints. Maynard wrote that "he
loves movies, not films", and his daughter argued that her father's
"worldview is, essentially, a product of the movies of his day. To
my father, all Spanish speakers are Puerto Rican
washerwomen, or the
toothless, grinning gypsy types in a Marx Brothers movie."
Margaret also offered many insights into other Salinger myths,
including her father's supposed long-time interest in macrobiotics
and involvement with "alternative
medicine" and Eastern philosophies. A few weeks after Dream
was published, Margaret's brother Matt
discredited the memoir in a letter to
The New York
. He disparaged his sister's "gothic tales of our
supposed childhood" and stated: "I can't say with any authority
that she is consciously making anything up. I just know that I grew
up in a very different house, with two very different parents from
those my sister describes."
Literary style and themes
In a contributor's note Salinger gave to Harper's Magazine
in 1946, he wrote:
"I almost always write about very young people", a statement which
has been referred to as his credo
are featured or appear in all of Salinger's work, from his first
published short story, "The Young Folks", to The Catcher in the
and his Glass family
In 1961, the critic Alfred Kazin
explained that Salinger's choice of teenagers as a subject matter
was one reason for his appeal to young readers, but another was "a
consciousness [among youths] that he speaks for them and virtually
them, in a language that is peculiarly honest and their
own, with a vision of things that capture their most secret
judgments of the world." Salinger's language, especially his
energetic, realistically sparse dialogue, was revolutionary at the
time his first stories were published, and was seen by several
critics as "the most distinguishing thing" about his work.
Salinger identified closely with his characters, and used
techniques such as interior monologue, letters, and extended
telephone calls to display his gift for dialogue. Such style
elements also "[gave] him the illusion of having, as it were,
delivered his characters' destinies into their own keeping."
Recurring themes in Salinger's stories also connect to the ideas of
innocence and adolescence, including the "corrupting influence of
Hollywood and the world at large", the disconnect between teenagers
and "phony" adults, and the perceptive, precocious intelligence of
Contemporary critics discuss a clear progression over the course of
Salinger's published work, as evidenced by the increasingly
negative reviews received by each of his three
story collections. Ian Hamilton adheres to
this view, arguing that while Salinger's early stories for the
"slicks" boasted "tight, energetic" dialogue, they had also been
formulaic and sentimental. It took the standards of The New
editors, among them William
, to refine his writing into the "spare, teasingly
mysterious, withheld" qualities of "A Perfect Day for Bananafish",
The Catcher in the Rye
, and his stories of the early
1950s. By the late 1950s, as Salinger became more reclusive and
involved in religious study, Hamilton notes that his stories became
longer, less plot-driven, and increasingly filled with digression
and parenthetical remarks. Louis Menand
agrees, writing in The New
that Salinger "stopped writing stories, in the
conventional sense.… He seemed to lose interest in fiction as an
art form—perhaps he thought there was something manipulative or
inauthentic about literary device and authorial control." In recent
years, Salinger's later work has been defended by some critics; in
2001, Janet Malcolm
The New York Review of
that "Zooey" "is arguably Salinger's masterpiece.…
Rereading it and its companion piece "Franny" is no less rewarding
than rereading The Great
Salinger's writing has influenced several prominent writers,
prompting Harold Brodkey
-winning author) to state in 1991: "His is the most
influential body of work in English prose by anyone since
Hemingway." Of the writers in Salinger's generation, Pulitzer Prize
-winning novelist John Updike
attested that "the short stories of
J. D. Salinger really opened my eyes as to how you can weave
fiction out of a set of events that seem almost unconnected, or
very lightly connected.… [Reading Salinger] stick[s] in my mind as
really having moved me a step up, as it were, toward knowing how to
handle my own material." The critic Louis
has observed that the early stories of Pulitzer
Prize-winner Philip Roth
by "Salinger's voice and comic timing."
National Book Award
The New York Times
1977 that reading Salinger's stories for the first time was a
landmark experience, and that "nothing quite like it has happened
to me since." Yates describes Salinger as "a man who used language
as if it were pure energy beautifully controlled, and who knew
exactly what he was doing in every silence as well as in every
word." Gordon Lish
's O. Henry
Award-winning short story "For Jeromé—With Love and Kisses" (1977,
collected in What I Know So Far
, 1984), is a parody of
Salinger's "For Esmé—with Love and Squalor."
In 2001, Louis Menand wrote in The New Yorker
"Catcher in the Rye
rewrites" among each new generation
had become "a literary genre all its own." He classed among them
's The Bell Jar
(1963), Hunter S. Thompson
's Fear and Loathing in Las
(1971), Jay McInerney
Bright Lights, Big
(1984), and Dave Eggers
Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
(2000). The writer
was struggling with her
first short stories when a friend gave her a copy of Nine
; inspired, she later described Salinger's effect on
writers, explaining: "[I]t feels like Salinger wrote The
Catcher in the Rye
in a day, and that incredible feeling of
ease inspires writing. Inspires the pursuit of voice. Not his
voice. My voice. Your voice." Authors such as Stephen Chbosky
, Jonathan Safran Foer
, Carl Hiaasen
, Haruki Murakami
, Gwendoline Riley
, Tom Robbins
, and Joel Stein
Salinger as an influence.
List of works
Published and anthologized stories
- "Go See Eddie" (1940, republished
in Fiction: Form & Experience, ed. William M. Jones,
- "The Hang of It" (1941,
republished in The Kit Book for Soldiers, Sailors and
- "The Long Debut of
Lois Taggett" (1942, republished in Stories: The Fiction of
the Forties, ed. Whit Burnett, 1949)
- "A Boy in France" (1945,
republished in Post Stories 1942-45, ed. Ben Hibbs,
- "This Sandwich Has
No Mayonnaise" (1945, republished in The Armchair
Esquire, ed. L. Rust Hills, 1959)
- "A Girl I Knew" (1948, republished
in Best American Short Stories 1949, ed. Martha Foley,
- "Slight Rebellion off
Madison" (1946, republished in Wonderful Town: New York
Stories from The New Yorker, ed. David Remnick, 2000)
Published and unanthologized stories
Unpublished and unanthologized stories
- See Beidler's A Reader's Companion to J.D. Salinger's The
Catcher in the Rye.
- Gross D. " Lawsuit targets 'rip-off' of 'Catcher in the
Rye'". CNN. Accessed 2009-06-06.
- Alexander (1999). p. 32.
- Lutz (2001). p. 10.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 31.
- Alexander (1999). p. 42.
- Fiene, Donald M. "A Bibliographical Study of J.
D. Salinger: Life, Work, and Reputation," M.A. Thesis,
University of Louisville,
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 39.
- Alexander (1999). p. 55-58. Burnett's quotes were included in
Fiction Writer's Handbook, edited by Whit and Hallie
Burnett and published in 1975.
- Alexander (1999). p. 55, 63-65.
- p. 87.
- Lutz (2001). p. 18.
- pp. 98, 233.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 58.
- p. 420, 646.
- Salinger, M (2000). p.55
- Hamilton (1988). p. 89.
- Lutz (2001). p. 7.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 55.
- Salinger, M. (2000), p. 67.
- Alexander (1999), p. 113.
- Salinger, M. (2000), p. 359.
- Alexander (1999), p. 118-20.
- Alexander (1999), p. 120, 164, 204-5.
- Alexander (1999). p. 124.
- Alexander (1999). p. 130.
- Crawford (2006). p. 97-99.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 75.
- Berg, A.
Scott. Goldwyn: A Biography. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1989. ISBN 1-57322-723-4. p. 446.
- Alexander (1999). p. 142.
- Whitfield (1997). p. 77.
- Nandel, Alan. "The Significance of Holden Caulfield's
Testimony". Reprinted in Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical
Interpretations: J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.
Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000. p. 75–89.
- Crawford (2006). p. 4.
- Whitfield, Stephen J. "Raise High the Bookshelves, Censors!" (book
review), The Virginia Quarterly Review,
Spring 2002. Retrieved on 2007-11-27. In a
review of the book in The Christian Science
Monitor, the reviewer found the book unfit "for children
to read," writing that they would be influenced by Holden, "as too
easily happens when immorality and perversion are recounted by
writers of talent whose work is countenanced in the name of art or
- Hamilton (1988). p. 117.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 155.
- Whitfield (1997). p. 97.
- Whitfield (1997). p. 82, 78.
Cameron, ed. Conversations with Wilder. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. ISBN 0-375-40660-3. p. 299.
- Maynard (1998). p. 93.
- Silverman, Al, ed. The Book of the Month: Sixty Years of
Books in American Life. Boston: Little, Brown, 1986. ISBN
0-316-10119-2. pp. 129–130.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 53.
- Hamilton (1988) p. 64.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 127.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 129.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 12.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 92.
- Hamilton (1988). pp. 136-7.
- Crawford (2006). p. 12-14.
- Lutz (2001). p. 30.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 89.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 90.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 84.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 94-5.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 94-5. Mentions Salinger's interest in
Christian Science, Edgar Cayce, homeopathy, acupuncture, and
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 195. Mentions Salinger's interest in
fasting and vomiting to remove impurities.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 219. Mentions Salinger's interest in
megadoses of Vitamin C.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 96. Mentions Salinger's interest in
urine therapy, glossolalia, and orgone energy.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 115.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 115-116.
- "People", Time, 1961-08-04. Retrieved on 2007-07-10.
- Lutz (2001). p. 35.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 361-2.
- Maynard (1998). p. 158.
- Maynard (1998). p. 97.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 307.
- Lutz (2001). p. 33.
- Crawford (2006). p. 79.
- The 1998 article mentions that "the couple has been 'married
for about ten years.'"
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 108.
- Circular 38a of the U.S. Copyright
- Lundegaard, Karen M. " J.D. Salinger resurfaces ... in Alexandria?",
Journal, November 15, 1996. Retrieved on August 13,
- Lutz (2001). p. 42-3.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 7.
- Maynard (1998). p. 94.
- Salinger, M (2000). p. 195.
- Whitfield (1997). p. 96.
Alfred. "J.D. Salinger: "Everybody's Favorite"," The Atlantic
Monthly 208.2, Aug. 1961. Rpt. in Bloom, Harold, ed. pp. 67-75.
- Shuman, R. Baird, ed. Great American Writers: Twentieth
Century. Vol. 13. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2002. 14 vols.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 70.
- Mondloch, Helen. "Squalor and Redemption: The Age of Salinger,"
World & I. SIRS Knowledge Source: SIRS Renaissance. Nov.
2003. Retrieved on 2004-04-02.
- Lutz (2001). p. 34.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 105-6.
- Hamilton (1988). p. 188.
- Osen, Diane. "Interview with John Updike", The National Book
Foundation. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-07-10.
- Yates, Richard. "Writers' Writers" (fee required),
New York Times, 1977-12-04. Retrieved on 2007-10-24.
Relevant passage is excerpted on richardyates.org.
- Gordon Lish Criticism
Aimee. "Holden Schmolden." Kotzen, Kip, and Thomas Beller, ed.
With Love and Squalor: 14 Writers Respond to the Work of J.D.
Salinger. New York: Broadway, 2001. ISBN 978-076-790799-6. pp.
- Beisch, Ann. "Interview with Stephen Chbosky, author of The
Perks of Being a Wallflower", LA Youth,
November-December 2001. Retrieved on 2007-07-10.
- Epstein, Jennifer. "Creative writing program produces aspiring
writers, The Daily Princetonian, 2004-12-06.
Retrieved on 2008-10-30.
- "What Authors Influenced You?",
Authorsontheweb.com. Retrieved on 2007-07-10. Both
Hiaasen and Minot cite him as an influence here.
- "You have to trawl the depths", The Guardian, 2007-04-25.
Retrieved on 2007-12-26.
- "Author Bio", Louis Sachar's Official Web Site, 2002.
Retrieved on 2007-07-14.
- Stein, Joel.
"The Yips." Kotzen, Kip, and Thomas Beller, ed. With Love and
The Squalor: 14 Writers Respond to the Work of J.D. Salinger.
New York: Broadway, 2001. ISBN 978-076-790799-6. pp. 170-6.
- Lutz, Norma Jean. "Biography of J.D. Salinger." Bloom, Harold, ed. pp. 3–44.
- Whitfield, Stephen J. "Cherished and Cursed: Toward a Cultural
History of The Catcher in the Rye," The New England
Quarterly 70.4, Dec. 1997. pp. 567–600. Rpt. in Bloom, Harold, ed. pp. 77–105.