On January 16, 2014, PBS.org posted an article titled “Six Degrees of Salinger,” a play on the Six Degrees of Separation thing where you point out connections between people not commonly known. They link Salinger to Judy Garland, Billie Jean King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, Ernest Hemingway, Sam Goldwyn, Harper Lee, John Lennon and James Baldwin. Some of the connections were true connections, others are just similarities, but it is a pretty good read and you can find it here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jd-salinger/six-degrees-of-salinger/2834/ .
They also tell us that PBS will be airing Shane Salerno’s Salinger documentary tonight, January 21, 2014 from 9-11:30 PM. We’ll be setting the DVR to check out the documentary and we’ll certainly post about it soon.
Also coming soon is information about the new biography by Shields and Salerno, recently-released criticism and we’ll be adding to the Reader’s Guides and more.
Editor’s Note: We realize that MLA format has been updated yet again, so we will be doing our best to audit the site and get the correct MLA citations into previous posts as soon as possible. That being said, please double check your MLA format with your current handbook (should be MLA 9) rather than use ours. We’ll post as soon as it’s all fixed. Then they’ll probably update MLA format again.
Written by Kathy Gabriel December, 2009
As two of the most influential and well-known authors of the 20th century it is not surprising that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway would inspire a great many young writers. The surprise is that one of those young writers would go on to achieve a comparable level of importance to his predecessors in the literary world. Fitzgerald and Hemingway both influenced Jerome David Salinger but in very different ways.
Although J.D. Salinger never met F. Scott Fitzgerald he was still greatly inspired by Fitzgerald through his work. In his biography of Salinger In Search of J.D. Salinger, Ian Hamilton states that “the authors he most admired were Sherwood Anderson, Ring Lardner, Scott Fitzgerald: These three had almost classic status in his mind. (53). As he developed as a writer Salinger came to see himself as following in Fitzgerald’s footsteps and perhaps even achieving what Fitzgerald could not. As Hamilton reports:
In 1941 Salinger would have liked to think he was doing what Scott Fitzgerald had to do. Fitzgerald had died a year earlier, and his legendary aspects were fresh in everybody’s mind. Salinger, in his letters, always spoke warmly of him and took heart from the knowledge that it was the Saturday Evening Post that had supported the writing of the Great Gatsby. In later years he would denounce Fitzgerald’s association with the magazine. For the moment though, he believed that he—Fitzgerald’s successor—could perform a balancing act, which the master himself could never master: between the Nathan and the Woodford worlds, between integrity and commerce (64)
Aside from Fitzgerald’s overall influence on Salinger’s vision for the direction his career would take; there is also evidence that Fitzgerald’s writing directly inspired Salinger’s own works. One prominent example of this is the end of “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” which bares a striking resemblance to the end of Fitzgerald’s novelette “May Day,” published in 1920. In his hotel room Fitzgerald’s main character Gordon Sterrett took the revolver he bought at a sporting goods store and fired a shot into his own head “just behind the temple” (Fitzgerald 141). Salinger’s main character, Seymour Glass also committed suicide in a hotel room.