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UNESCO Cities Bookshelf: The Catcher in the Rye by Jerome Salinger

On the bookshelf of UNESCO cities, we will meet many different authors from different parts of the Earth with their multifaceted works that have excited more than one generation of readers. Polina Nikolaeva, press secretary of the program, a young poet and writer from Ulyanovsk, will tell us about them. Today we continue our column with a no less interesting work by Jerome Salinger "The Catcher in the Rye".

Through the pages of Salinger's biography

Jerome David Salinger was born on January 1, 1919 in New York City. The boy's father, Solomon Salinger, was a Jew of Lithuanian origin, who was engaged in the wholesale trade of smoked meats and cheeses. Miriam's mother, who before the wedding bore the name Mary Gillick, who was of Scotch-Irish descent, converted to Judaism. In addition to Jerome, his older sister Doris was brought up in the family.

The father sought to raise his son an educated person. In 1936, the young man graduated from a military school in the city of Valley Forge. Here he made his debut in literature: Jerome wrote 3 stanzas for the school anthem, which is still performed today.

In the summer of 1937, Salinger attended lectures at New York University, and after a year he was in Poland, where in the city of Bydgoszcz, at the request of his father, he studied the production of sausages. Returning home, he attended lectures at Ursinus College, in Pennsylvania, and in 1939 he entered Columbia University, where he attended a course of lectures on short history, read by W. Burnett.

As a result, David did not graduate from any educational institution and did not show career aspirations. By this, he aroused the displeasure of his father, with whom he eventually quarreled forever.

In the spring of 1942, Jerome was drafted into the army, where he graduated from the officer-sergeant school of the signal troops. The following year, with the rank of sergeant, the man was transferred to counterintelligence and sent to the city of Nashville (Tennessee).

Gallery of creativit

The main characters of most of Salinger's works are children under 17 years old. However, he can hardly be called a "children's" writer. In his work, the author raises the theme of confrontation between a teenager and the world around him. The heroes of the works contain an existence that does not find certain boundaries.

The debut story "Young People" in 1940 was published by the magazine "Stori". As for the first serious fame, she came after the publication of "It's Good to Catch a Banana Fish," which describes the day of Seymour Glass and his wife.

11 years after the publication of the first work, on July 16, 1951, the only novel “The Catcher in the Rye” was published, the author worked on this story for 10 years. And that is what we are going to talk about today.

Literary critics of that time approved of the novel, which is still not losing popularity. However, the book was banned in some countries and US states due to depressiveness and swear words.

By the release of the novel, 26 works by Jerome were published in various editions, including 7 of 9 short stories. In 1953, they compiled a separate collection called Nine Stories. In the 60s, the work "Franny and Zooey" and "Above the rafters, carpenters" were published.


Interesting Facts

Salinger was deeply interested in philosophy, was interested in Zen Buddhism, Scientology, and Christian teachings. From time to time, Jerome arranged fasting weeks - either he ate only vegetables, or ate exclusively proteins.


Name mystery

"The Catcher in the Rye" is a garbled phrase by Robert Burns, an English poet. If Burns had a call in the rye, then Salinger changes the quote to "If someone caught someone over a precipice in the rye", supposedly wrong. But in fact, the writer changed the quote to make a reference to the Bible, referring to the fishers of human souls. That is, the author wants to save other children from the callousness and cynicism of the adult world, which they will recognize ahead of time. It is necessary to help them to preserve the immediacy of perception and the purity of the soul. You need to be able to catch the children over the moat, which is filled with falsehood and lies. And in the text, this name means a lot to the hero: when he hears the boy's song, he recalls unfinished lines and then thinks about really important things that lead him to realize true values.

This message explains the novelty of the form of the work: we do not notice the author in the text. It seems that he does not exist at all, and before us is just the research of some young man. The narration is a monologue, stylistically sustained in the manner of teenage speech. If earlier writers strove for the artificiality of speech, elevating it, then Salinger, on the contrary, strove to convey everyday conversations with friends, internal monologues, without embellishing them, so that the reader would believe Caulfield. The writer is trying to "fish" children out of the pit of cruel reality, showing a living boy with all the problems and nuances inherent in his age. It was Holden, and not his literary creator, who had to teach his peers as equals. Therefore, the book is called "The Catcher in the Rye" - it is there that the action of the novel takes place, which draws to itself fragile minds and souls unclouded by aggression.


Genre features

Salinger gave the narrative a confessional tone. Before readers is the very personal diary that teenagers are embarrassed to start. They associate themselves with the hero, arguing and agreeing with him in the depths of their souls, not confiding their secrets to anyone. Thus, their internal polemic is kept untouched by extraneous views and judgments, which they do not want to hear and see. Thus, The Catcher in the Rye can be called a confessional novel.

In addition, literary critics use such a term as "romance-growing" in relation to the work. It is not difficult to guess that we are talking about an attempt to give the genre the meaningful characteristics of the book. Nevertheless, it is in this case that such a formulation is fully justified, because it reflects the essence of not only the plot, but also the composition, ideas and themes. The attempt to classify literature in terms of all these components certainly deserves attention.


The main character - who is he?

Holden Caulfield is a young man of 16 who was kicked out of school. The novel is narrated from his perspective. It frankly tells about his heightened perception of American reality and the rejection of the general canons and morals of modern society. Holden Caulfield being treated at the clinic: he tells a story that happened to him last winter and preceded his illness. The events he narrates take place on the eve of Christmas in December 1949.


What did Salinger want to say?

The novel "The Catcher in the Rye" tells a little about the most important thing in a person's life: about loneliness, about love and family, about conscience, about experience and about mistakes.

Holden Caulfield does not feel spiritual kinship in anyone, so it is hard for him to study and keep calm. His acquaintances at school are superficial, and the loss of his brother and separation from his sister weighs on his soul. The author shows how dangerous it is to leave a child alone during such a period: he can turn off the road simply because he had no one to pour out his soul. At the same time, Salinger shares loneliness, an illness, and solitude, which is a boon for a person who is alienated from society.

The boy lacked the warmth of parental care, he was not close to his father and mother. Of course, this fact provoked his disorder and anger against the world of adults. From the lack of communication with them, he does not understand what kind of people they are, since they do not know "where the ducks go."

A teenager goes through a lot of trials and temptations, often takes the wrong steps, which he later regrets.

Internal moral guidelines help Holden stay on track. Unlike his self-satisfied neighbor, he does not cease to be a modest and naive boy, real depravity does not concern him. He tends to carefully consider even what he has already done and check with his code of rules.


You can find a work on the shelves of any department of the centralized library system of the city of Ulyanovsk that is convenient for you, and the directorate of the Ulyanovsk – UNESCO City of Literature program is always open for interesting literary conversations!