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The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye by
Publication Date: 1991-05-01
Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories, particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is fully of children. The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.
January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010
J. D. Salinger passed away January 27, 2010; he was 91. The famously-secretive author rose to prominence in the 1950's for The Catcher in the Rye, a book that has resonated with every generation of youth since. He is more celebrated in literary circles for his shorter stories, many of which centered on the Glass and Caulfield families and explored deeper religious and philosophical territory than his sole novel.
The special place awarded him in the world of American literature was shunned by Salinger. He never wanted to be troubled at all, in fact, hiding from the world with a vigor that goes beyond mere reclusiveness. His few public statements make it clear that he wanted to be left alone, focused only on the few people he brought into his life. He allowed that his published works would be absorbed by readers, but he never wanted the scalpels of criticism and devotion that followed.
copied from salinger.org