J. D. Salinger Biography

J. D. Salinger Biography

J. D. Salinger is famous primarily for two things: his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) and his reclusive life. Catcher is a semiautobiographical account of its teenage protagonist, Holden Caulfield. The novel’s first-person narration gave voice to a generation of frustrated young men who longed to escape the strictures of “proper” society. Although the work was an immediate popular success, Salinger has never penned another published novel. He did have success with several short stories, including “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” first published in The New Yorker in 1948. Success also followed with his collection Franny and Zooey in 1961. Despite his enormous acclaim, though, Salinger has rarely published after 1959 and has only granted an occasional interview, preferring a life of anonymity.

Facts and Trivia

  • Salinger’s father wanted him to follow in his footsteps as a meat importer, sending his son to Austria to learn the trade. Salinger left Austria just one month before the country fell to Hitler.
  • He served in the army during World War II, saw action in D-Day, was among the first American soldiers to enter a liberated concentration camp, and interrogated prisoners of war as a counter-intelligence officer.
  • The Catcher in the Rye was one of the most banned books and paradoxically one of the most taught books of the twentieth century.
  • The character Holden Caulfield first appeared in the short story “Slight Rebellion Off Madison.”
  • Salinger has been at various times a Zen Buddhist, a Christian Scientist, and a Scientologist.
Additional Content
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