RIP J.D. Salinger 1919-2010
Jerome David Salinger, the reclusive legend whose writing inspired generations of young Americans, died in New Hampshire of natural causes.
“The Catcher in the Rye,” with its immortal teenage protagonist, the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield, came out in 1951, a time of anxious, Cold War conformity and the dawn of modern adolescence. The Book-of-the-Month Club, which made “Catcher” a featured selection, advised that for “anyone who has ever brought up a son” the novel will be “a source of wonder and delight – and concern.”
Enraged by all the “phonies” who make “me so depressed I go crazy,” Holden soon became American literature’s most famous anti-hero since Huckleberry Finn. The novel’s sales are astonishing – more than 60 million copies worldwide – and its impact incalculable. Decades after publication, the book remains a defining expression of that most American of dreams – to never grow up.
The effect of Salniger’s work was was pronounced in many ways.
The cult of “Catcher” turned tragic in 1980 when crazed Beatles fan Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, citing Salinger’s novel as an inspiration and stating that “this extraordinary book holds many answers.”
Salinger was rarely available to anyone and claimed he continued to write for his own pleasure, much of his work unpublished.
The world had come calling for Salinger, but Salinger was bolting the door. By 1952, he had migrated to Cornish. Three years later, he married Claire Douglas, with whom he had two children, Peggy and Matthew, before their 1967 divorce. (Salinger was also briefly married in the 1940s to a woman named Sylvia; little else is known about her).
Meanwhile, he was refusing interviews, instructing his agent to forward no fan mail and reportedly spending much of his time writing in a cement bunker. Sanity, apparently, could only come through seclusion.Click here for reuse options!
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