lundi 24 janvier 2011

J.D. Salinger – a new biography

Cet article a été écrit par Jonathan Goldberg, que je remercie. Une traduction en français sera publiée prochainement sur ce blog.

The iconic American author died exactly a year ago, at the age of 91. Although he failed to graduate from three colleges, he became a giant of American literature.

His best-known novel, The Catcher in the Rye (translated into the major languages, including French ("L'attrape-coeurs") sold more than 65 million copies. Much has been written of his personal life, particularly of his reclusive life style. A lesser known-aspect of his life was his participation in the Normandy campaign in the Second World War, his proficiency in French and German and his assignment to a counter-intelligence division, where he used his language proficiency to interrogate prisoners of war. According to his daughter, he was also among the first soldiers to enter a liberated concentration camp. Salinger's experiences in the war affected him emotionally. He was hospitalized for a few weeks for post traumatic stress disorder after Germany was defeated.

Before Salinger’s death, he engaged in a lawsuit to prevent the publication of “60 Years Later – coming through the Rye”, by Fredrik Colting, which was billed as a sequel to The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger’s estate has now reached an agreement with Colting, which allows the book to be sold in international markets, but not in the United States or Canada.


For more details about that subject, see The New Yorker, January 19, 2011:

For an article in French on the subject of that legal battle,  see «La suite de l’Attrape-Coeurs pourra paraître partout sauf aux Etats-Unis » -

Immediately after his death, The New Yorker magazine posted online (for subscribers only) 12 of the enigmatic writer's stories previously published in the magazine. Readers who are not subscribers are able to see an abstract describing the story and a small image of the original pages in which it appeared. The stories were originally published from 1948 through 1965, including Salinger's last published work, "Hapworth 16, 1924."


This week the first biography of Salinger since his death, “J.D. Salinger: A Life”, by Kenneth Slawenski, will be published.

The Amazon.com review states:

In the year since his death, we've heard much more about J.D. Salinger's reclusiveness and eccentricities, both real and exaggerated, than we have about the writing that made him famous in the first place. Kenneth Slawenski's ‘Salinger: A Life’ avoids such scandal- mongering in order to deliver a sensitive (but not fawning) portrait of Salinger the writer. Slawenski looks not only at Salinger's most famous works, but also finds a wealth of psychological insights in places like rejection letters and biographical statements. Not surprisingly, Salinger's life, and especially his service in World War II, provided much of the raw material for his stories. But Slawenski does much more than compare Salinger's biography to his literary output: he also shows how compromises, conflicts, and editorial intrigues shaped Salinger's works, even when he was at the peak of his career. The book has much less to say about Salinger's post-1960 retirement and self-seclusion, apart from the author's occasional foray into the public eye by way of a rare interview or court case. But Slawenski does this for good reason: Salinger: A Life seeks only to explain Salinger as most of us knew him, through his writing. As a result, both die-hard fans and those who last picked up Catcher in the Rye in high school will find it enlightening.

A longer literary review is to be found in the Los Angeles Times, January 23, 2011:

The following documentary video, entitled “L’attrape-Salinger”, provides a French commentary on the life of Salinger



The resume of the documentary states:

Ce film décalé suit les déambulations d'un écrivain français à la recherche de ses sources personnelles et dresse un portrait distancié de la culture américaine contemporaine.

For a French article on Salinger, see Wikipedia -  http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._D._Salinger

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