J.D Salinger dies but Caulfield lives on Monday, February 08, 2010 By Sara Nelson
“I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddamn cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.” A river wouldn’t do Jerome David Salinger justice, but the absence of flowers on his grave would. On Wednesday, January 27, the reclusive author famous for Catcher in the Rye passed away. Living in isolation in his New Hampshire home, J.D. Salinger died of natural causes at age 91. According to a statement made on behalf of Salinger’s longtime literary agency, Harold Ober Association, there will be no service for Salinger. It also asked that “people’s respect for him, his work, and his privacy be extended to his family” during this hard time. After the publication of Catcher in the Rye and a few dozen short stories, Salinger refused to be published anymore. “There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. It’s peaceful…I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure,” he said. He went as far as filing law suits for any type of publication of his words, and wouldn’t allow his photo or any personal information to be printed on book jackets. Fan mail was never answered, and curious worshippers outside his home were never acknowledged. Salinger gave the youth population an idol, but never anything more. No other author of such few known works has gained such popular and critical interest as Salinger. Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951, and went on to sell more than 65 million copies worldwide, translated into 30 different languages. Not only does it boast numbers, but the novel is the most taught as well as most banned book in the United States. The ability that Salinger had to expose the mind of such an unsatisfied, intelligent youth still proves relatable today. Holden dismisses the superficial ethics that are constantly being bestowed on young people, and instead offers readers an anti-phony, rebellious way of thinking. Critics across the world have argued over the significance that Holden Caulfield holds. To some, he is an out dated teenager who holds no relevance to the modern world. To others, he’s an idol for his adolescent disapproval for the hypocrisy of “official” society. Where did such a character as Holden derive? Similarly enough, Salinger’s past is almost identical to that of his rebellious Caulfield. Floating from school to school, he eventually ended up at McBurney Prep School, where he was considered an indifferent student and later expelled for failing to apply himself. Cather in the Rye’s allure is still alive today. Perhaps Holden’s encounters are a bit outdated, but his spark and cynical views are still shared in teenagers across the world. The novel continues to sell 250,000 copies a year. To Mr. Salinger, wherever you are now, hopefully there are no goddam phonies.