Category Archives: Journal Articles

Journal articles related to Salinger and his works

Amis and Salinger: The Latitude of Private Conscience

MLA Citation:

Green, Martin. “Amis and Salinger: The Latitude of Private Conscience.” Chicago Review, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Winter, 1958), 20-25.

First Paragraph:

“J. D. Salinger and Kingsley Amis are brothers, with a common inheritance, tendency, and temperament.”

Summary:

Green points to similarities in the works of Salinger and Kingsley Amis, but says, “… the point is not that they are so similar, as that they are so different from everybody else.” (21) Green notes ways in which their styles differ from the Modernists, notably Hemingway , Faulkner, James, and Kafka. By comparison he says, Salinger and Amis are more playful with language and themselves, noting their sentences are “strikingly personal, self-conscious, clumsy, [and] “clever.” (21)

He notes that they write about similar people and stresses that this is why the sentences quoted from both authors’ characters are “equally the utterance of the author.” (22) Green states that the “crucial category … is the phony.” (22) The effort to be not phony and also not too kind or rude to those who are phonies leaves both authors’ heroes “unable to live a normal life” as they “fight a perpetual guerilla war with the ordinary world.” (22)

Green suggests that in spite of “temperamental and national differences” their situations have a similarity as well. He presents Amis as more interested in the squalid world and less forgiving of his characters, noting that Salinger’s central characters are “beautiful and much loved” and “never lose their natural dignity.” (22) Green also emphasizes that both writers are connected by their attention to characters’ language, specifically their slang and that their level of personalization is what separates them from other “comic” writers.

Moreover, Green says, the characters gain even more similarity during the serious points of their works. He labels both Salinger’s and Amis’s heroes as “puritanical” and “pedagogical,” noting how difficult it is to make characters sympathetic at the same time. (*Editor’s Note: While there is some didacticism in the example he gives of Franny speaking to Zooey, and even, it could be argued, some fanaticism, it is difficult I think to make the case that all of Salinger’s characters are this way.)

The main problem both writers tackle, Green argues, is “how to take one’s place in intelligent, privileged, ruling-class society–which presents itself to both of them as horribly inadequate and dangerous.” (24) Green asserts that Salinger and Amis provide “at last a positive , life-giving alternative” to the Modernism of Hemingway, Faulkner, Greene, Waugh, McCullers and others. (25)

“The Holy Refusal”: A Vedantic Interpretation of J.D. Salinger’s Silence

MLA Citation:

Pattanaik, Dipti R. “”The Holy Refusal”: A Vedantic Interpretation of J.D. Salinger’s Silence.” MELUS23.2 (1998). JSTOR. Web. 25 Nov. 2010. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/468015>.

First Paragraph:

“The silence of J.D. Salinger continues to be an enigma.  That a successful writer should cease to publish at the height of his glory not only defeats our everyday notions about success, it also baffles the serious students of Salinger’s work and life.”

Summary

Pattanaik cites biographer Ian Hamilton and Salinger scholars Warren French and James Lundquist trying to sort out the reasons Salinger may have gone into seclusion.  He also cites Ihab Hassan’s The Dismemberment of Orpheus as a place where “a more rigorous analysis of Salinger’s refusal to publish his works and make himself public…”

Pattanaik attempts to use “the Eastern religions and mystic Catholicism” to find an answer to his question.  He ultimately comes to the conclusion that Salinger’s silence is a result of the author’s attempt at “right living” and that it is all explainable through his characters.

On Burning, Saving, and Stealing Letters

MLA Citation:

Jolly, Margaretta. “On Burning, Saving and Stealing Letters.”  New Formations.  London: Summer 2009., Iss. 67;  pg. 25, 11 pgs

First Paragraph:

forthcoming

Summary:

While dedicated primarily to feminist autobiography, Jolly’s article does not deal at length with Salinger’s letters, but does mention them in elucidating her larger points about the negotiation involved in the author/subject relationship.  In the section entitled, “Stealing Letters: The Ethics of Epistolary Research” Jolly writes,

“The key negotiation takes place over how and whether the private should be publicized, in which the balance of power becomes a central question. But there are special ethical challenges involved for letters, for here there is also the relationship between the correspondents (or their inheritors) themselves to be negotiated.”

And that, “biographers like Ian Hamilton and Diane Middlebrook, who tracked down unpublished letters of J.D.  Salinger and Ted Hughes in university libraries, find themselves up against the financial and psychological demands of immensely influential literary estates.”

She goes on to suggest,

“[r]ecent theory on the ethics of life writing pushes us to rethink privacy as the effect of relationships.  The question is not so much the protection of an absolute form of privacy but of understanding and respecting the kind of contract or sociability each form of address presupposes. But how do we apply this to the publication of letters, which themselves owe their existence to relationship?”

Thus, Jolly’s article contains on the barest mention of the Ian Hamilton/J. D. Salinger contreversy but does a good job in what it seeks to do, which is to discuss the status of literary letter writing and its appropriation, specifically within a feminist framework.