The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 and is a well known classic in American literature. The novel’s opening lines are known even to those that have not read it.
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
And New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik considers it one of the “three perfect books” in American literature, along with Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby, and believes that “no book has ever captured a city better than Catcher in the Rye captured New York in the fifties”
The book has been banned and then taught as set work in English classes. The main character and narrator, Holden Caulfield, is second in literature only to Huck Finn. Charles McGrath of The New York Times wrote in his article, J. D. Salinger, Literary Recluse, Dies at 91, that:
“The novel’s allure persists to this day, even if some of Holden’s preoccupations now seem a bit dated, and it continues to sell more than 250,000 copies a year in paperback. Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon in 1980, even said the explanation for his act could be found in the pages of “The Catcher in the Rye.”
But more interesting than this is the man himself. Famous for not wanting to be famous. J D Salinger continually turned down offers for the movie rights to his novel and spent the last 50 years of his life living in seclusion. McGrath also wrote a bit about Salinger’s aversion for fame after Catcher became a success:
“But success, once it arrived, paled quickly for him. He told the editors of Saturday Review that he was “good and sick” of seeing his photograph on the dust jacket of “The Catcher in the Rye” and demanded that it be removed from subsequent editions. He ordered his agent to burn any fan mail. In 1953 Mr. Salinger, who had been living on East 57th Street in Manhattan, fled the literary world altogether and moved to a 90-acre compound on a wooded hillside in Cornish. He seemed to be fulfilling Holden’s desire to build himself “a little cabin somewhere with the dough I made and live there for the rest of my life,” away from “any goddam stupid conversation with anybody.”
I’m sure many of you have read it…I have not. So share your thoughts with me; the good, the bad, and the ugly.