Friday, January 29, 2010

JD Salinger - A Literary Giant Of Our Times

JD Salinger, who died at 91 on January 27, 2010 was a literary giant of our times.

Read all about him here.

Thanks Wikipedia.

Jerome David Salinger (1919 – 2010) was an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher In The Rye, as well as his reclusive nature.

His last original published work was in 1965. He gave his last interview in 1980.

Raised in 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 magazine, 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 was influential, 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 Stories (1953), a short story Franny And Zooey (1961), and a collection of two novellas, Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters And Seymour: An Introduction (1963).

His last published work, a novella titled Hapworth 16, 1924, appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965.

Born to a Scottish American mother and a Jewish father from Poland, Salinger attended public schools on the West Side of Manhattan.

He also acted in plays but his father was opposed to him becoming an actor.

Salinger then joined the Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania. There he wrote stories under the covers with the aid of a flashlight.

After leaving the academy, he worked in a company in Vienna, Austria.

In 1939, Salinger attended a Columbia University evening writing class taught by Whit Burnett, the longtime editor of Story magazine.

Burnett told Salinger that his stories were skillful and accomplished, and accepted The Young Folks, a vignette about several aimless youths, for publication.

Burnett became Salinger's mentor, and they corresponded for several years.

In 1941, Salinger started dating Oona O'Neill, daughter of the playwright Eugene O'Neill.

However, she left him for Sir Charles Chaplin.

In 1941, The New Yorker accepted his short story Slight Rebellion Off Madison, about a disaffected teenager named Holden Caulfield with "pre-war jitters".

When Japan carried out the attack on Pearl Harbour that year, the story was rendered "unpublishable".

It did not appear in the magazine until 1946.

In 1942, several months after the United States entered World War II, Salinger was drafted into the Army, where he saw combat with the 4th Infantry Division.

During the campaign from Normandy (France) into Germany, Salinger met Ernest Hemingway, a writer who had influenced him and a war correspondent in Paris.

Salinger was impressed with Hemingway's friendliness and modesty.

Hemingway was impressed by Salinger's writing.

Salinger was assigned to a counter-intelligence division, where he used his proficiency in French and German to interrogate prisoners of war.

He was among the first soldiers to enter a liberated concentration camp.

Salinger continued to write while in the army, and published several stories in Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post. He also continued to submit stories to The New Yorker.

In 1946, Whit Burnett agreed to help Salinger publish a collection of his short stories.

Titled The Young Folks, the collection was to consist of twenty stories.

By the late 1940s, Salinger had become an avid follower of Zen Buddhism.

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.

Salinger told Whit Burnett that he was eager to sell the film rights to some of his stories in order to achieve financial security.

However, Salinger was disappointed with Hollywood’s interpretations of his books The Varioni Brothers and Uncle Wiggly In Connecticut.

The Catcher In The Rye 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 prep school.

The book is more notable for the iconic persona and testimonial voice of its first-person narrator, 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.

The Catcher In The Rye has been reprinted eight times. It spent thirty weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list.

The Catcher In The Rye had the 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 Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men).

The book remains widely read. As of 2004, the novel was selling about 250,000 copies per year, with worldwide sales over 65 million.

Salinger cited as his greatest influences the authors Fitzgerald, Kafka, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, O'Casey, Keats, Rimbaud, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Henry James and Blake among others.

In 1952, Salinger became a Hindu. His love of Hinduism was reflected by the novel Teddy.

As the notoriety of The Catcher In The Rye grew, Salinger gradually withdrew from public view. In 1953, he moved from New York to Cornish, New Hampshire.

In 1955, Salinger married Claire Douglas, a student. They had two children, Margaret (born December 10, 1955) and Matthew (born. February 13, 1960).

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 on 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 after her freshman year at Yale University.

The relationship ended because Maynard wanted children, and he felt he was too old.

Salinger was romantically involved with television actress Elaine Joyce for several years in the 1980s.

The relationship ended when he met Colleen O'Neill, a nurse whom he married around 1988.

Salinger identified closely with his characters and used techniques such as interior monologue, letters and extended telephone calls to display his gift for dialogue.

Recurring themes in Salinger's stories connect to the ideas of innocence and adolescence, including the "corrupting influence of Hollywood and the world at large".

A film released in 2000, Finding Forrester, was loosely based on Salinger.

In the film, Sean Connery played a reclusive author whose only published novel was considered to be a literary masterpiece.

After publishing the novel, Connery's character had become reclusive and remained so for nearly 30 years.