Jerome David Salinger

(1919-2020), American

J.D. Salinger was an American novelist and short-story writer who is remembered today for his novel The Catcher in the RyeSalinger was known to write almost exclusively about young people and identify quite closely with his characters. The latter is seen through his use of interior monologue and personal recollections through letters and diary entries.


Life Facts

  • J.D. Salinger was born on January 1st 1991.
  • The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951.
  • He was drafted and fought in World War II.
  • He lived out most of his life in New Hampshire on a 90-acre estate.
  • J.D. Salinger died in 2010 at the age of 91.

Interesting Facts

  • Salinger was a “mediocre” student and dropped out of Ursinus College after one semester.
  • His favorite magazine was The New Yorker.
  • He mostly became a recluse after writing The Catcher in the Rye.
  • In 1972 Salinger started a relationship with a 19-year-old named Joyce Maynard.
  • His family plans to publish all his as of yet unpublished works.


Famous Books and Stories by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is the obvious first choice on anyone’s list of best JD Salinger books and stories. When it was published in 1951 the story of the character Holden Caulfield was loved by some and hated by others. It was censored in schools around the world and rocked the author to a level of fame that he hadn’t sought. The novel tells the story of a young man who is at odds with everyone and everything around him. It has inspired a generation of writers and spoken directly to the hearts of many dissatisfied teenagers.

Franny and Zooey is a two-part book. The first part is a short story that follows Franny Glass who is unhappy with the world she’s living in and tries to escape it spiritually. The second part is a novella about Zooey and is set shortly after Franny has left New York. She comes to Franny’s aid offering what she can to make life easier.

“A Perfect Day for Bananafish” is one of Salinger’s best-loved short stories. It explores the marriage of Muriel and Seymour Glass while they vacation in Florida. It was first published in The New Yorker in 1948 and then later in Nine Stories in 1953.

“For Esmé-with Love and Squalor” is another of Salinger’s best short stories. It was also originally published in THe New Yorker. The story describes a meeting between a young girl and a sergeant who is on the verge of being sent out to fight in the war. It is considered by some to be one of the finest pieces of literature to come out of from World War II.

“The Laughing Man” was first published in March of 1949. It was later included in Nine Stories. It uses a frame narrative to allow the speaker to describe his childhood and adolescence and focusing in on the story of the “laughing man”.


Early Life

J.D. Salinger was born Jerome David Salinger. He was born on January 1, 1919, in New York, New York, and was the youngest of two children. His father was a rabbi who ran a cheese and ham business and his mother was Scottish. Salinger was known as a poor student who did not enjoy his school world. He failed out of McBurney School in the Upper Westside and then was sent to military school from which he graduated in June of 1936.

Early Career, WWII, and Relationships

Post-graduation, Salinger went home before traveling to Europe. He spent five months in Vienna. After, he spent one semester at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania before he dropped out and went on to take night classes at Columbia University. It was during his time at Columbia that he met Whit Burnett, a professor and the editor of Story magazine. He proved to be an incredibly important influence on Salinger. He encouraged the young man to write more and ended up publishing his work in Story. Salinger’s writing also featured in Collier’s. His first story, “The Young Folks” was published in 1940. He continued to write and found some success in popular magazines. 

In 1942, he was drafted into the military and served until the end of World War II. He was part of the Normandy Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. Despite his surroundings, he continued to write, beginning work on The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger was hospitalized at the end of the war after suffering a nervous breakdown. He married a mysterious woman named Sylvia while there but their marriage only lasted eight months. In 1995 he married again, this time to Clair Douglas. Together they had two children, Margaret and Matthew. 


Writing Career

 in 1946, Salinger returned to New York where he went back to writing. He published work in The New Yorker before finally publishing The Catcher in the Rye in 1951. It immediately got mixed reviews with some speaking out against the language and themes in the novel. Despite this, and the censorship of the novel in schools, he got several offers to adapt the novel into the movie. He rejected all of them. 

The novel made Salinger famous, something that resulted in the novelist retreating and becoming something of a recluse. In1953 he moved to a 90-acre home in New Hampshire. He wrote little during this time but in the 1960s new collections Franny and Zooey and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters were published as books. 

In 1972 Salinger started a relationship with a 19-year-old named Joyce Maynard. They were together in New Hampshire for nine months. They ended their relationship over the issue of children. Salinger gave his final interview in June of 1980 to The Baton Rouge Advocate. 


Death

Throughout the last decades of his life, Salinger was involved in various legal battles to stop the publication of books and the release of films. He died in January of 2010 at the age of 91. He had broken his hip the year before, but his death was, by the family’s account it was peaceful.


Influence from other Writers

 J.D. Salinger was notably influenced by writers such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He went on to inspire writers such as Phillip Roth and John Updike.


Literature by J.D. Salinger

Explore literature by J.D. Salinger below, created by the team at Book Analysis.