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This is really a harder question than I first thought it was going to be, and to be honest, I can only give it my best guess.
The most likely answer is that the character comes from a story by H. Ashton-Wolfe and was anthologized in a book called "Warped in the Making: Crimes of Love and Hate." This was back in 1927, so it was indeed available at the time of Catcher in the Rye.
It's not a slam dunk, though. The character of Monsieur Blanchard (who did, indeed, live in Monte Carlo as Holden mentions) appears almost entirely in the included story titled: "Orinsi, the Croupier." I have read this story, and for the life of me I don't see any mention of women being compared to a violin. In fact, I don't see a lot to suggest that Blanchard was the lady's man Holden things. Blanchard is more like a security guard (I think story refers to him as a "surete") for the the casino, a dapper man who spots cheats and frauds.
Three things might account for this:
- I have the wrong story in mind,
- Holden is confusing this story with a different one he read,
- Holden is confusing the story of Monsieur Blanchard with another character in another section of the anthology (I haven't read them all, so I can't tell.)
Any of these seems plausible, but I don't think I have the wrong story. I think it is likely Holden that is confusing characters. I am putting a link below that will lead you to the original, public domain version of the book if you'd like to check for yourself.
I am curious, though, if that's the right answer. Holden was a clever guy but his schooling was sporadic. It's possible he's confusing things. The weird part is that Salinger would write it that way, with his character recalling a particular story (that character does come from the Monte Carlo story) and then having him remember it wrong (considering most readers wouldn't know the difference.) Very clever.
As a non-native speaker I guess I miss those nuances. For all I know Holden remembers it right. That's why Google comes in handy. I guess I get about ninety percent of the story.
I reread the book and it hasn't lost anything in the last twenty years. Holden's innocence still moves me. Thanks for your answers. I’ll start in As I lay dying now.
As a non-native speaker I guess I miss those nuances. For all I know the book does exist. I guess I get about ninety percent of the story. I reread the book and it hasn't lost anything in the last twenty years. Holden's innocence still moves me. Thanks for your answers. I’ll start in As I lay dying now.
Thank you. That makes it easier for me to accept that I couldn't answer the question myself :-)
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