10 Interesting Facts About The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger and his masterpiece are studies in contrasts. Salinger wrote his only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, over the span of a decade and then found instant success when it was published. Once famous, the author quickly turned from the limelight, fleeing New York City and rarely speaking to reporters. The Catcher in the Rye is both one of the most-taught books in American high schools and also one of the most-banned classic novels in American schools.
Rebel in the Rye, a film that looks at the influences that shaped the young writer, including his time on the frontlines of World War II. In light of this, we thought it was a good time to take a look at the author, and his most-famous work:
1. Rye was with him when he stormed the beach at Normandy on D-Day.
Shane Salerno, the co-author of Salinger, told NPR, "That was something that stunned me. He carried these chapters with him almost as a talisman to keep him alive, and he worked on the book throughout the war."
2. J.D. Salinger published only one novel: The Catcher in the Rye.
The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 and Salinger's other work consists of short stories and novellas—all of which were published before the mid-1960s. In 2013, a few years after Salinger's death, the alleged transcripts of three of his unpublished stories leaked online—despite the author's order that they be kept under lock and key for decades after his passing.
3. About 250,000 copies of The Catcher in the Rye are sold each year.
That's almost 685 copies a day. Since its publication, the novel has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. On Goodreads, the book has more than 2 million ratings and more than 45,000 reviews from readers.
4. The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most banned books in America.
In fact, it appears on the American Library Association's annual top ten most-banned books as recently as 2009 for offensive language and sexually explicit material, 66 years after its publication. It's also the second most-banned 'classic' book (after The Great Gatsby), according to the ALA.
5. The Catcher in the Rye is also one of the most taught books in America.
Between 1961 and 1982, Catcher was the most studied book in high schools. In 1981, the book was both the most frequently censored book in the United States, and, at the same time, the second-most frequently taught novel in American public schools.
6. The New York Times once declared that Millennials hate Holden Caulfield. In a 2009 article titled Get a Life, Holden Caulfield, the newspaper reported that kids thought the book's protagonist was "weird, whiny, and immature." The article ends with this kicker from a children's literature expert who was told by a 15-year-old boy, "Oh, we all hated Holden in my class. We just wanted to tell him, 'Shut up and take your Prozac.'"
7. The best-selling book has never been made into a movie.
"If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me," Holden Caulfield says in The Catcher in the Rye. And so far, Salinger's estate seems to be siding with Holden. Despite interest from moviemakers including Billy Wilder and Steven Spielberg, Salinger's estate (which controls his work since his death in 2010) has actively prevented any movie from being made of the classic.
8. Salinger was considered one of the most reclusive celebrities.
The author began withdrawing from public life after the publication and quick success of Catcher and led a very private life for the next half century. He also sued to keep a biographer from reprinting letters he sent to friends and fans, according to TIME. After once being hounded by a fan, he complained, "I'm a fiction writer! If I'd have known this was going to happen, I don't think I would have started writing."
9. The Catcher in the Rye has been a favorite of high-profile killers.
Mark David Chapman, the man who in 1980 murdered John Lennon, remained at the crime scene reading The Catcher in the Rye. In his statement to police, Chapman said, "I'm sure the big part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil." In 1989, Robert John Bardo was carrying a copy of the book the night he murdered actress Rebecca Schaeffer. John Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, claimed to be fascinated with the book.
10. Salinger's former home in Cornish, New Hampshire, now houses cartoonists.
Salinger's remote cabin, where he retreated from fame, is now serving as home to a residency with the Centre for Cartoon Studies. In details about the residency, the house is described this way: The "secluded home is reached by traveling a mile and half down a winding dirt road. The one-bedroom apartment is equipped with a kitchen, studio, and claw foot tub."
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