Jerome David Salinger, known as J. D. Salinger was born on the 1st of January in 1919. He was the brilliant son of Sol Salinger, a businessman, while his mother, Marie, was a Scottish lady. His father belonged to a Jewish family, and his mother was of Irish-Scottish descent. However, she changed her name and religion out of love after marrying Sol Salinger. Jerome had shared a close relationship with his mother. However, his father was strict in his rules. He had only one sibling, a sister named Doris.
Jerome David Salinger, a prolific literary figure, started his educational journey in 1932 from a private school in New York. About his writing career, he started writing for the school newspaper. He also showed talent in acting despite his father’s disapproval. In defiance, he appeared in many plays. Later, he joined the Valley Forge Military Academy, where he began writing short fiction and became the literary editor of Crossed Sabres, a class yearbook. There, he also participated in the French Club, the Non-Commissioned Officers Club, and Glee Club. After graduating in 1936, he joined New York University in the same year. In 1938, he admitted to the Columbia University School of General Studies and made serious efforts to pursue his career in writing.
Although Jerome David Salinger’s writing career was shortly interrupted by WWII, yet it opened another chapter in his life. He started serving the military instead. Unfortunately, the trauma of war resulted in his nervous breakdown. Thus, he was admitted to a hospital, and there, he met Sylvia, who later became his partner. The two remained in a short union of just eight months until Salinger remarried in 1955 to Claire Douglas, the daughter of Robert Langdon Douglas, a great British art critic. The couple had two children together; Matthew and Margaret. Unfortunately, his second marriage also ended in divorce in 1966, yet he married for the third time in 1988 to a nurse, Colleen O, Neill, and the lady stayed with him until his death.
Jerome David Salinger died of natural causes at the age of ninety-one on the 27th of January in 2010 in New Hemisphere. He continued writing throughout his life. Strangely, he did not publish a large body of his work. After his demise, his wife and son, Matthew Douglas Salinger, an actor, tried to present his unpublished writings to the world. His daughter Margaret Salinger also wrote a memoir ‘Dream catcher’ recalling their childhood.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- Although he continued to write till death, The Catcher in the Rye, remained his only published novel.
- His masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye, has sold over 120 million copies all over the world and is taught in different syllabuses across the world.
- Salinger published a story for the first time at the age of 21.
Jerome started writing at a young age and did wonders in the literary world. He is one of the prestigious writers of the twentieth century. He started his literary career when he was at school; he used to send stories to magazines and evening posts. Later, his friendship with Burnett, whom he met and befriended at Columbia University, further accelerated his writing career. He admired his creative writing skills and advised him to make a career in this field. Although he joined the military in 1942, yet he continued writing with his typewriter while he was serving. In 1951, his masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye, released, and it immediately became a big hit. The novel beautifully represents the teenager’s experience with rebellion. Throughout his career, only one novel, a collection of stories, Nine Stories, and other short stories got published in the magazines, while the rest stayed at his home.
Jerome David Salinger enjoyed a private and secret life. Though his first novel brought him into the limelight, he did not want popularity for writing. Therefore, he moved to New York in 1953 and led a secluded life. However, it has not impacted his writing style. Using his unique character, he has beautifully portrayed his ideas in his literary pieces. Youth and adolescents remain the centerpieces in most of his writings: from his first published story “The Young Folks” and Catcher in the Rye, he has stuck to the portrayal of youth. His writing won universal recognition and was marked with the use of reflective tone, realistically sparse dialogue, symbolism, metaphors. Also, he is identified uniquely with his characters. By using techniques like interior monologue and letters, he provides his readers with a chance to understand the true feelings of the characters. The recurring themes in most of his writings are discontented teenagers, innocence and adolescence, and corrupting influence of the world.
Some Important Works of Jerome David Salinger
- Best Short stories: He was an outstanding author, some of his best short stories include “For Esmé—with Love and Squalor”, “De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period”, “Once a Week Won’t Kill You” and “Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes”.
- Best Novels: Besides writing sort-stories, he produced novels such as The Catcher in the Rye and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction.
Jerome David Salinger’s Impact on Future Literature
Salinger’s opinions about alienation and loss of innocence have made a great impact on the literature. Also, his distinctive writing approach and unique way of expression have made him stand among the great writers of the world. Many great writers and critics applaud his ideas. Alfred Kazin, a critic, said that his choice of subject matter as a teenager is the main reason for his unrivaled literary fame. He has been so much successful in integrating his ideas into his characters, that young writers compete to copy his style.
- “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
(The Catcher in the Rye)
- “That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.”
(The Catcher in the Rye)
- “Everything everybody does is so — I don’t know — not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless and — sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you’re conforming just as much only in a different way.” (Franny)