Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Salinger, J. D.
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(Jerome David Salinger)(săl'ĭnjӘr), 1919–2010, American novelist and short-story writer, b. New York City. His considerable literary stature rests on a small but extremely influential body of work that is noted for its depiction of the loneliness and frustration of individuals caught in a world of banalities and restricting conformity. His most famous work and only novel, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), is a picaresque work that describes, in a vernacular first-person voice, the adventures of Holden Caulfield, a rebellious and alienated schoolboy at odds with society. It remains extremely popular, particularly among adolescents, who over the years have tended to view it as a testament to the purity and honesty of youth. Many of Salinger's sharply observed short stories concern the ex-vaudevillian parents and seven brilliant, quiz-show-star children of the Glass family, presented as sensitive, neurotic, and intelligent individuals in a crass, vulgar world. By the mid-20th cent. Salinger was hailed as one of America's great writers. Nonetheless, in 1953 he retreated from public life amd moved to a rural compound in Cornish, N.H. Becoming a kind of literary recluse, he increasingly shunned and engaged in litigation against those who wished to write about his fiction and his life; in 1987 he won an injunction against a researcher who intended to publish excerpts of his letters. Collections of his stories, most of which, beginning in 1946, first appeared in the New Yorker, include Nine Stories (1953), Franny and Zooey (1961), Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters (1963), and Seymour, An Introduction (1963). His last story was published in the New Yorker in 1965.

  • See J. D. Salinger's Short Stories (2011), ed. by Bloom, H. ;.
  • memoirs by J. Maynard (1999) and M. A. Salinger, his daughter (2000);.
  • biographies by I. Hamilton (1989, rev. ed. 2000), P. Alexander (1999), K. Slawenski (2011), and T. Beller (2014);.
  • studies by G. Rosen (1977), W. French (1988), J. Wenke (1991), K. Kotzen and T. Beller, ed. (2001), J. C. Unrue (2002), and H. Bloom, ed. (new ed. 2008).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article Salinger, J. D. (1919-)
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature

Part-Jewish, part-Irish American novelist and short story writer. Salinger is best known for the celebrated novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951)...

Full text Article J. D. Salinger (1919 - )
The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story

Given the singularity of his subject matter and the odd shape of his career, J.= D. Salinger’s fiction both benefits and...

Full text Article Salinger, J[erome] D[avid]
Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature

S. has gained prominence and cultlike acclaim from a large cross section of the American public on the basis of a rather...

See more from Credo