Sunday, 03 July, 2022

Turn The Page: Catcher In The Rye by J D Salinger

The Catcher In The Rye is one of those books that seems to suffer from being part of the landscape. I had forgotten, until a recent re-reading, how vital a voice this book has. There are a few terms which might give away the fact that it was not written in the present day but they don’t represent any kind of stumbling block at all to accepting this as both contemporary and relevant (not that this, of course, is any kind of a mark of good literature, but still). The important thing about this book is the capturing of a psychology — the disenfranchised, disaffected youth who finds no authenticity in anything. Holden Caulfield seems, on a surface reading, to know what he is against and not what he is for — a charge levelled at him in the book by his sister. But it is more that he knows what he wants to find in people and things and he cannot see it there — he finds it all lacking. He is of course guilty of perpetuating this state of things himself (the source of his bouts of self-loathing) and when he tries to kick against it he is frustrated by his inability to express exactly what it is he would replace it all with once he had torn it down. It is important though that he tries, and the exploration of that existence strung between inarticulate rage and an almost poetic confrontation with what is wrong with the world is what makes this book so special. All the thoughts, all the actions, have a solid emotional bedrock in a character that, as they say, lives and breathes, and exists as much more than a cipher through which salinger can explore a few nicely phrased theories. Scrape away all the barnacled bullshit that has encrusted this book and invest some time in it — it will reward you.

One comment on “Turn The Page: Catcher In The Rye by J D Salinger

It’s one of those books that you have to read just because everyone else has. I like the fact that J.D.Salinger has held onto his privacy so ferociously and never tried to capitalise on the success of this book by churning out more.


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