J. D. Salinger wrote one of the most famous books ever written, The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger wrote many stories and, in 1941, after several rejections, Salinger finally cracked The New Yorker, with a story, "Slight Rebellion Off Madison," that was an early sketch of what became a scene in "The Catcher in the Rye." The magazine then had second thoughts in part because of World War II in which Salinger was in combat, and held the story for five years before finally publishing it in 1946, buried in the back of an issue. Everyone was surprised when the story and the book that followed it became a bit hit. Even today nobody can really explain why Catcher in the Rye is so famous and so popular. Yet, millions have been sold and are still being sold even though only available as used books nowadays. When The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951, it was registered for copyright as "additional material." This obviously referred to the earlier work "Slight Rebellion Off Madison." The copyright page on "The Catcher in the Rye" states "Copyright 1945, 1946, 1951 by J. D Salinger." The date of 1945 obviously refers to the publication of "I'm Crazy," a short story written by Salinger and published in the December 22, 1945 issue of Collier's magazine that first introduced the character Holden Caulfield to the reading public. Salinger later reworked this short story to incorporate it into The Catcher in the Rye. The two earlier stories are "I'm Crazy," an early version of Holden's departure from prep school that later shows up in The Catcher in the Rye. With minor alteration, much of this story is familiar to readers as the chapter where Holden visits Mr. Spencer. What sets this story apart is the presence of an additional Caulfield sister and the clarity of Holden's resignation and compromise at the end. "Slight Rebellion off Madison" is an early version of another scene in The Catcher in the Rye. The story follows Holden when he is home from Pency and goes to the movies, then skating with Sally Hayes, followed by his drunken calls to her apartment late at night. An early story, it is the first of Salinger's Caulfied works to be accepted for publication.
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Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."
His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.About the Author:
J D Salinger was born in 1919. He grew up in New York City, and wrote short stories from an early age, but his breakthrough came in 1948 with the publication in The New Yorker of 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish'. The Catcher in the Rye was his first and only novel, published in 1951. It remains one of the most translated, taught and reprinted texts, and has sold some 65 million copies. It was followed by three other books of short stories and novellas, the most recent of which was published in 1963. He lives in Cornish, New Hampshire.
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