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
Shaw, Peter. “Love and Death in The Catcher in the Rye.” Ed. Jack Salzman. New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Cambridge UP, 2001. 97-114. Print.
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“By the time The Catcher in the Rye appeared in 1951, the theme of the sensitive youth beleaguered by society was well established in the American novel. Reviewing Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms in 1948, Diana Trilling complained about the tendency of contemporary novelists to employ a ‘deterministic principle’ in which the youth was repeatedly presented as a ‘passive victim.’ Also well established by 1951 was the link between neurosis, self-destructive behavior, and social maladaptation on the one hand, and artistic sensibility and special insight on the other. Not surprisingly, Holden Caulfield was regarded as yet another fictional example of the sensitive, outcast character vouchsafed a superior insight by a touch of mental disturbance.”
Next paragraph for clarification purposes:
“Holden’s disturbance was taken to be both his unique, personal gift and the fault of a hypocritical, uncaring society, one particularly indifferent to its more sensitive souls. Holden’s insight into the adult world’s hypocrisies, moreover, appeared to derive precisely from his being its casualty. Given the deplorable world in which he lived, if by the end of his adventures Holden seemed ready to effect some kind of accommodation with society, this struck readers as inevitable, if regrettable.