Jolly, Margaretta. “On Burning, Saving and Stealing Letters.” New Formations. London: Summer 2009., Iss. 67; pg. 25, 11 pgs
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And that, “biographers like Ian Hamilton and Diane Middlebrook, who tracked down unpublished letters of J.D. Salinger and Ted Hughes in university libraries, find themselves up against the financial and psychological demands of immensely influential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.