"I Think that J.D.Salinger is the most talented fiction writer in America."(Hyman, Edgar p.444) ""Salinger is an oddity, an obsessive, who commands respect.."(Kazin, Alfred p.446) These are just a portion of endless quotes which describe Salinger's impact on typical modern day literature critic. Throughout his career he has turned the heads of many people and has been an inspirational writer for the generations with such books as "The Catcher in the Rye" and "The Glass House,"
J.D.Salinger was born on the first of January 1919, in New York City, to Sol and Mirian Jilich Salinger. Salinger had one sister, Doris, that was eight years older than him. He attended public school on Manhattans upper west side. His grades where slightly above average. There are also reports that he tested to a 104 on an I.Q. test. Salinger was enrolled at thirteen, by his parents, in Manhattans "Highly rated" McBurney school. They where concerned about his grades. He flunked out one year later. Salinger was then enrolled in Valley Forge Military Academy in the Pennsylvania Hills. It was here that certain biographical facts begin to build up in accounting for Salinger as a writer. It was at Valley Forge that Salinger developed a sense of being a misfit, of having been sent away to become part of an alien institution, and that what is needed, what is missed, is a larger, closer family.
It was after graduating from Valley Forge that Salinger wrote some of his first works. Salinger was deeply emotionalize by World war two. This had a great deal to do with his first writings. "Many of Salingers early stories do not deal directly with the war... but a war atmosphere permeates them - and it is not one of patriotism nor is it representative of the kind thought found in so much writing to come out of the war. His early stories generally portray characters who feel estranged and marooned because of WWII."(De Luca, Geraldine p.518)
Salingers greatest writing was "The Catcher in the Rye". This book was a great achievement that first drew and overwhelming amount of attention to him and his work. It is shown that different generations look at the book differently and have very different perspectives of the main character, Holden. "The catcher in the Rye is a deceptively simple, enormously rich look who's source of appeal run in deep and completely varied veins. The very young are likely to identify with Holden and to see the adult world in which he so journs as completely phony for rebels and a guide to identification of squares. The older generation is likely to identify with some part of the society that is satirized, and to see Holden as a bright but sick boy who's psyche needs adjustment before he can, as he will, find his nitch and settle down."(Miller, James p.298)"Few heroes of contemporary literature have aroused so much devotion, imitation, or controversy as J.D.Salingers Holden Caulfield as the dissaflicted adolescent who's lost weekend in New York is chronicled in The Catcher and the Rye."(Galloway, David p. 445) Another of his greatest works includes "The House of Glass". Salinger's writing style enables him to write with such emotions that a family being so perfect could have a corruptional feeling to it."Salingers extraordinary stories... are dominated by the idea of the glass family as exceptional beings." (Kazin, alfred p.446) The book has such a different twist and awkwardness to it, yet makes perfect sense and is highly rated among critics. "The progress of his glass series is a little more than a decade from one of the finest short stories of our time."(Hymen, Stanley Edgar p.444)
Salingers writing style, being unique and creative, gives the reader a sense of feeling and really being within the book and taking a surreal journey through Salingers point of view."The problem a ventriloquist must always get around is to make his audience forget that the figure on his knee is just a wooden dummy not real and this is what Salinger succeeds at doing..."(Lundquist, James p.57) His Style also brings about the feeling of "yin-yang", or opposing forces coming together."The conflicts suggest a certain polarity between what might be called, with all due exaggeration, the assertive vulgarity and the responsive outsider. Both types recur with sufficient frequency to warrant the distinction, and their interplay defines much that is most central to Salingers fiction."(Ihab, hassan p296) It is not surprising that Salinger relates to the younger generations. His writing style focuses on average adolescence which most kids identify with. Although most of his writing is based on young adults, he intrigues the minds of young and old alike. "In one form or another, as fellow novelist [Norman Mailer] commented unlovingly, Salinger is everybodys favorite ... But above all is he a favorite of that audience of students, student intellectuals, instructors, and general literary, sensitive and sophisticated young people who respond to him with a consciousness that he speaks for them and virtually to them, in a language that is particularly "honest" and their own, with a vision of things that captures their most secret judgements of the world."(Kazin, Alfred p.297)
Salingers most criticized piece of literature is his novel "the Catcher in the Rye". It is the work of a conservative who is not interested in overthrowing existing institutions, but in providing a decent world for sensitive youth who are not strong-willed enough to flaunt tradition. Salinger has an unusual fascination with the opposite sex." Undoubtedly part of the reason why Salinger is attracted to cuteness is that it is a characteristic of those who are intellectually precocious without having developed sexually. The sexlessness of Salinger's world has often been noticed. Although prostitutes, adulterers, and such creatures occasionally darken his pages, they are consistently denounced. His attitude toward sex appears the product, however, not so much of a fear or hatred of sex in itself, as of a detestation of sexual promiscuity. (Allen, Walter p.298) Salinger had a certain style to his writing he related well to those crazy college kids. "For the college generation of the fifties, Salinger has the kind of importance that Scott Fitzgerald and Erenst Hemingway had for the young people of the twenties." (Hicks, Granille p.502) Part of the reason Salinger speaks the "language" of the youth of the world. "Salinger has a marvelous sensitivity to the young, to the language, to the fraudulence of contemporary America." (Hyman, Stanley Edgar p. 444)
"When one stands back from Salingers career, it does take on a curious and disturbing pattern, He begins as a writer of formula fiction fresh out of a course in short story writing... and then gradually looses himself within the potentially brilliant concept of the glass family." (Landquist, James p.151) Salinger writing has been an inspiration to some and a joke to others. During the climax and demise of his career time indeed shows he has gained a broad, open-minded audience which have taken his books to heart, felt and understood him.
"The Modern Novel"
E.P.Duton and Co. Inc. 1964
"The Saint as a Young Man"
New York University Press 1965
De Luca, Geradlin
"The Lion and the Unicorn"
"The Love Ethic"
University of Texas Press 1970
"J.d.Salinger: Search for Wisdom"
The Saturday Review. July 25, 1959
Hyman, Stanley Edgar
"J.D.Salingers house of Glass"
Horizon Press 1966
Princeton University Press; Princeton Paperback 1961
"Bright Book of Life"
Little, Brown and Co. 1973
"J.D.Salinger; Everybody's Favorite"
Frederick Ungar Publishing, New york 1979
University of Minnesota
Pamphlets on American writers, 1965
September 16, 1961. pg.84
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