In Review: Salinger
In 1951, Jerome David “J.D.” Salinger’s only novel The Catcher in the Rye was published. Following a highly successful release, the novel is regarded as one of the highest points in American literature, and continues to be read today.
While The Catcher in the Rye was published in the public eye, J.D. Salinger remained enigmatic, only occasionally engaging in public affairs.
Salinger is a documentary, directed by Shane Salerno, that follows the life of a man who wished to remain anonymous in a world that treated him as one of the finest authors of the twentieth century.
The beginning of the film focuses on the turbulent childhood Salinger had growing up. He made several attempts to have one of his short stories published in The New Yorker, what he saw as the pinnacle of published short stories.
The other part of his upbringing that is deeply analyzed is his having been thrusted into World War Two, and the traumatizing effect it had on his psyche. The film explored how the experiences of war stayed with him long after the fighting had finished. Many of the people interviewed, which at times Salinger considered friends and at others nemesis’, saw how this affected him and reflected upon the sort of shattering effect the War, and his inability to cope with the society he was put back into afterwards.
Salinger was known for his relationships with various women. There was a heavy focus on how each relationship Salinger had during his life was turbulent and reflected his creed which ensured his work was unaffected by his personal life.
His second wife, following his first failed one-month and highly controversial marriage to an German immigrant that he later accused of being an Nazi, was shown to understand the divide between Salinger’s real family and the Glass and Caulfield families he wrote about. His daughter reflected upon how he treated his fictitious families with more compassion then he ever did for his one in the flesh.
While Salinger sought reclusiveness, sometime he would also engage with the media. One of the many biographers who have written on Salinger remarked that he “stayed out of it all, which allowed him to be in it.”
Salinger, at times, does not reflect as a favorable man, often drawing on the experiences of psychological deprivation he gave to those that surrounded him, but it does portray a man in a light that is genuine, who wrote with a sense of uncompromisable self-purpose and integrity.
J.D. Salinger is seen as an enigmatic figure in the light of critically acclaimed success that shocked the world with his literary prowess.
He was a man that, while cold and absent to those in reality, lived in the psychological mindscape with his creations, the Glass and Caulfield families, where he was able to achieve the ambiguity he sought.