J. D. Salinger

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Salinger, J. D.

(Jerome David Salinger) (săl`ĭnjər), 1919–2010, American novelist and short-story writer, b. New York City. His considerable literary stature rests on a small but extremely influential body of work that is noted for its depiction of the loneliness and frustration of individuals caught in a world of banalities and restricting conformity. His most famous work and only novel, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), is a picaresque work that describes, in a vernacular first-person voice, the adventures of Holden Caulfield, a rebellious and alienated schoolboy at odds with society. It remains extremely popular, particularly among adolescents, who over the years have tended to view it as a testament to the purity and honesty of youth. Many of Salinger's sharply observed short stories concern the ex-vaudevillian parents and seven brilliant, quiz-show-star children of the Glass family, presented as sensitive, neurotic, and intelligent individuals in a crass, vulgar world. By the mid-20th cent. Salinger was hailed as one of America's great writers. Nonetheless, in 1953 he retreated from public life amd moved to a rural compound in Cornish, N.H. Becoming a kind of literary recluse, he increasingly shunned and engaged in litigation against those who wished to write about his fiction and his life; in 1987 he won an injunction against a researcher who intended to publish excerpts of his letters. Collections of his stories, most of which, beginning in 1946, first appeared in the New Yorker, include Nine Stories (1953), Franny and Zooey (1961), Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters (1963), and Seymour, An Introduction (1963). His last story was published in the New Yorker in 1965.


See J. D. Salinger's Short Stories (2011), ed. by H. Bloom; memoirs by J. Maynard (1999) and M. A. Salinger, his daughter (2000); biographies by I. Hamilton (1989, rev. ed. 2000), P. Alexander (1999), K. Slawenski (2011), and T. Beller (2014); studies by G. Rosen (1977), W. French (1988), J. Wenke (1991), K. Kotzen and T. Beller, ed. (2001), J. C. Unrue (2002), and H. Bloom, ed. (new ed. 2008).

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Salinger, J. D. (Jerome David)

(1919–  ) writer; born in New York City. He graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy (1936) and studied at New York University, Ursinus College, and Columbia University. He began to write when young, worked as an entertainer on a cruise ship (1941), served in the Army (1942–46), and began to publish short stories. The Catcher in the Rye (1951), his first and only novel, was an immediate success, generating a cult-like dedication among many readers. His subsequent collections of short stories, many of which first appeared in the New Yorker, such as Franny and Zooey (1961) and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963), raised more speculation about the elusive author. Critics have been puzzled by his work—he is considered to be either too intellectual or too sentimental, a supreme stylist or a didactic practitioner of self-absorbed musings. He also ended up as something of a media preoccupation by virtue of his becoming a recluse for most of his adult life; about all that was ever known of his personal life was that he lived and wrote in Cornish, N.H.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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