06 March 2014

The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger

An audio book, and all.

I've read this book before, at least twice, but it's surprising (to me) how much of it I've forgotten. After seeing a documentary about Salinger on TV recently, in which the amazing success of this novel was reported, (Wikipedia says that 65 million copies have been sold) I acquired this recording and listened to the novel over the past few weeks.

Much has been said and written about Catcher, and I doubt that I can add much to the discussion, from the standpoint of literary criticism. What I will say is how strongly I am convinced that Salinger, whether wittingly or not, was describing a young person suffering from something that would today be diagnosed as some variety of mental illness. I am not saying that today's interpretation of Holden's behavior would be beneficial, but that the difference in how such behavior is perceived today is noteworthy.

Imagine a person under the age of 18 wandering freely in New York City, drinking in bars, staying in a hotel where he is offered the services of a prostitute, entering his own home in the middle of the night to visit his little sister, then leaving to seek refuge with a former teacher who seems very likely to be a pedophile.

In 2014, this would be a very different story, I think.

The Praises and Criticisms of J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye author J. D. Salinger Dies (CBC)

July 16, 1951 review of Catcher in the New York Times

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