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J. D. Salinger (Jerome David Salinger) Biography

(1919– ), (Jerome David Salinger), The Catcher in the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, Nine Stories

American novelist and short-story writer, born in New York, educated at Valley Forge Military Academy, New York University, and Columbia University. The Catcher in the Rye (1951), his first published book, had enormous success, particularly with the young who were able to identify with the young hero/narrator, Holden Caulfield. Owing something to Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Holden relates his adventure in a racy vernacular (which was to affect the idiom of generations of readers). Nine Stories (1953, UK title For Esme with Love and Squalor and Other Stories) collects earlier stories from 1948 onwards; its first, ‘A Perfect Day for Banana Fish’, and others, introduce the Glass family, by whom Salinger was to become increasingly obsessed. The Glass family, resident in New York, but of Irish and Jewish descent (Salinger's own position), are headed by Bessie and Les, distinguished vaudeville artists. Franny and Zooey (1961) presents the youngest two members of the family at crisis moments of their early lives. Franny, a college senior, goes up to Boston to visit her boyfriend for a football weekend, but suffers a nervous attack through her realization of the hollowness of ordinary life when contrasted with the religious and inner life. Zooey, her handsome young actor brother, attempts to give her spiritual ease. Both stories are related by Salinger's self-confessed alter ego, Buddy Glass, and have a marvellously acute ear for the inconsequential logic of ordinary conversation. Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963) is a single volume made up of two Glass family stories originally printed in The New Yorker (1955, 1959). In the first, Buddy Glass tells of his return to New York during the War to attend his brother Seymour's wedding, and goes on to describe Seymour's jilting of his bride and later elopement with her. The second story is Buddy's anguished brooding on his loved and admired brother's suicide. Salinger began to lead an increasingly isolated country life in New Hampshire, and blocked any attempt to draw him out of it, including a book to which he originally appeared to give some kind of consent (In Search of J. D. Salinger by Ian Hamilton, 1988).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: M(acha)L(ouis) Rosenthal Biography to William Sansom [Norman Trevor Sansom] Biography