Obituary: J. D. Salinger
The literary world has lost an author who never wanted to be a part of it. On Wednesday 27th January 2010, J.D. Salinger passed away in his New Hampshire retreat, around which he once built a huge wall. The Catcher in the Rye was his only novel, but he only needed to write one. Published in 1951, and described as “the manifesto of disenchanted youth” it is one of the most infamous texts of the last century. Still the subject of much controversy, Catcher has been banned, had teachers sacked, and inspired one man to shoot John Lennon.
Conversely, it has become part of the rite of passage for young people, its voice lending itself to that particular brand of teenage angst and awkwardness that has been unrivalled since. Apart from Catcher, Salinger published very little, and fiercely opposed anyone that tried to write about him. A few short stories about the fictional Glass Family series were published in The New Yorker, but nothing more, and nothing equalling Catcher’s reputation.
It is often said that Salinger spoke through his infamous protagonist, Holden Caulfield, to express his own disenchantment with the establishment that he found so disappointingly lacking. Perhaps, then, the opening of the novel is the best insight we have: “I don’t feel like going into it, if you really want to know the truth”.