Seelye, John. “Holden in the Museum.” Ed. Jack Salzman. New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Cambridge UP, 2001. 23-33. Print.
Seelye’s essay starts with a quote from the novel: “I was the only one left in the tomb then. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful. Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall.”
“I don’t think I was alone, as a college undergraduate in the early fifties, in regarding Holden Caulfield as a royal pain, an affront to my generation, which was prone to assume supine positions in the name of material well-being. Most of my classmates were conformists eager to become Organization Men inventing Hidden Persuaders, and the grey flannel suit (with that touch of conformist flair, the tattersall vest) was our uniform of choice. ours was the cause that James Dean’s Rebel was without, and James’s shadow figure, John Dean, was one of us. Our greatest fear was not of losing our individuality to corporate America but of losing our lives in Korea. Like Dan Quayle, we did our patriotic best by joining reverse units, hoping that the winds of war would pass by, leaving our private lives unruffled. About the time that Jack Kerouac was making his westward journey that would become thinly fictionalized as On the Road, I spent two summers driving from Connecticut to California to take part in a naval reserve training program that would result in an ensign’s commission just in time for the end of hostilities in Korea. It was not me that Salinger’s Catcher caught.”
Salzman, Jack. New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991. Print.
“In 1959, eight years after the publication of The Catcher in the Rye, Arthur Mizener began a Harper’s magazine essay about J. D. Salinger by noting that he was ‘probably the most avidly read author of any serious pretensions of his generation.’ There were good reasons why this should be the case, Mizener commented. Whatever limitations the work might have had – either of technique or of subject matter – within these limitations it was ‘the most interesting fiction that has come along for some time.’ Although, as we will see, there was little critical agreement about what the limitations of The Catcher in the Rye may have been, there was little disagreement with Mizener’s contention that Salinger was the most avidly read ‘serious’ writer of his generation. Soon after Nine Stories appeared in April 1953, it made the New York Times best-seller list. By 1961 sales of Catcher were reported to have reached one and half million copies in the United States alone.” (from The Introduction)
Table of Contents:
Series Editor’s Preface
This book is part of The American Novel Series
Introduction by Jack Salzman
John Seelye: Holden in the Museum
Michael Cowan: Holden’s Museum Pieces: Narrator and Nominal Audience in The Catcher in the Rye
Christopher Brookeman: Pencey Preppy: Cultural Codes in The Catcher in the Rye
Joyce Rowe: Holden Caulfield and American Protest
Peter Shaw: Love and Death in The Catcher in the Rye
Notes on Contributors