The blog of The Philadelphia Inquirer's Editorial Board.
“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.”
More high-school teens in the last half-century may have read that opening line from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye than just about any other book.
The reclusive Salinger died Thursday at age 91. But his classic novel — exploring teen angst and rebellion as narrated by its main character, Holden Caulfield — lives on.
In reality, Salinger has been gone from public view for decades. The fame that followed Salinger after Catcher was published in 1951 prompted him to move from Manhattan to Cornish, N.H., where he zealously guarded his privacy.
His last published work was “Hapworth 16, 1924,” a 25,000-word story that ran in The New Yorker in June 1965.
Salinger’s works were influenced in part by time he spent attending the Valley Forge Military Academy. He also briefly attended Ursinus College.
Salinger’s place in American literature remains secure along with other greats, including Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway.