J.G. Keely’s review of The Catcher in the Rye > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Kelly (last edited Jun 11, 2009 07:55AM) (new)

Kelly Oh, Keely, thank you. You said everything I wanted to say about this book, but was too irritated/enraged by Holden Caufield to articulate. Much appreciated. :)

message 2: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Glad to be of service, as ever.

I know some of the people who like this book have fairly good reason, I tried to give at least a glimpse of that. Hopefully Frederick will be along to give his two cents.

message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I'm not sure what the fairly good reasons are- I've never been able to figure it out. Except maybe that its an accurate portrayal of a certain kind of teenager. But you can get that from lots of other books that are less high on themselves for doing it. But I suppose I didn't have any personal connection to the book at all, so I'm still willing to hear other perspectives.

And who is Frederick? A Catcher fan, I take it?

message 4: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Yeah, he's another GR friend who I've discussed the book with in the past.

message 5: by Wealhtheow (new)

Wealhtheow Loving The Catcher in the Rye is, to me, an easy signal that I probably won't enjoy a friendship with that person. There's just something about it (and Keely, I think you nailed just what "it" is) that leads to people I find insufferable, pompous or boring to adore it.

message 6: by Dmitry (new)

Dmitry yes interesting thoughts, i like this book so unusual

message 7: by Alfred (new)

Alfred Bates I have a friend who kept on trying to explain to me how Catcher is 'inward social commentary'. I'm not sure what that is, but he sounded a tad idiotic and I almost hurt him very bad. Like, broke his fingers or something.

message 8: by Miriam (new)

Miriam The pain of having ones fingers broken could also be an inward social commentary. Have a speech ready to that effect.

message 9: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten I read this book when I was 15 and my high rating reflects my age at reading and the fact that I'd never really read anything like it before. I thought your points are valid and plan to reread it and give it an adult perspective. I'm not sure about the legions of fans. Catcher has become the Coldplay of literature. It is fashionable to dislike it.

message 10: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Well, I can only hope that fashionability (or unfashionability) will not have a detrimental effect on my critiques.

message 11: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten Sorry I wasn't meaning that as a slap against you. As I said I thought your points were valid enough for me to give it a reread and reevaluation. In fact I thought your review was insightful and well considered.

message 12: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Oh, no worries, I was just flirting with the idea of how larger perceptions can affect our thoughts. I know I can be a bit of an iconoclast, though whether that makes me follow the fashionably unfashionable or rebel against it for being a popular movement, it's hard to say.

message 13: by Duffy (new)

Duffy Pratt My trouble with this review is that it's more of a review of the book's admirers than of the book itself. People who admire Ulysses also tend to be unimaginable insufferable, but that doesn't say anything at all about the book. This is especially true, when, as you point out, the admirers tend to misunderstand the book.

For me, the key point with Salinger is that he seems to have gotten so tired of people loving his books for the wrong reasons that he gave up on publishing. (I don't know whether he also gave up on writing.) Also, I think your generalizations about Salinger and his imagination may be true with regard to this book, but that doesn't mean that it applies to him across the board. I like the Glass stories much better than Catcher, which I thought was very well written but kind of trite.

Finally, I also think its a bit unfair to pan an author because he's not as good as Checkov. By that standard, you could basically throw out just about all of American literature.

message 14: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe But what is more interesting is that those who idolize Holden tend to be those who most misunderstand him. Upon close inspection, he's not depressive, not consumed with ennui or an existential crisis, he's actually suffering from 'Shell Shock'--now known as 'Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder'.

He also seemed to have been suffering from pneumonia.

Interesting review, though I don't agree with you--I've always admired it as a portrayal of a broken person, and not because I particularly "idolized" Holden (who seemed to me to be a sad sack indeed, even when I first read it at 16).

message 15: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely "Finally, I also think its a bit unfair to pan an author because he's not as good as Checkov. By that standard, you could basically throw out just about all of American literature."

Are you suggesting I grade world literature on a curve to make up for the Americans' shortcomings?

message 16: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Interesting review, though I don't agree with you--I've always admired it as a portrayal of a broken person, and not because I particularly "idolized" Holden (who seemed to me to be a sad sack indeed, even when I first read it at 16).

I guess most of the broken people I have met were more interesting.

message 17: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe Keely wrote: "Interesting review, though I don't agree with you--I've always admired it as a portrayal of a broken person, and not because I particularly "idolized" Holden (who seemed to me to be a sad sack inde..."

I thought the way that Salinger wrote Holden's failure to action captured something particularly accurate about teenage boys, then and now. It's a tragedy more than a bildungsroman.

message 18: by Duffy (last edited Oct 31, 2011 02:01PM) (new)

Duffy Pratt Keely wrote: ""Finally, I also think its a bit unfair to pan an author because he's not as good as Checkov. By that standard, you could basically throw out just about all of American literature."

Are you sugges..."

Not at all. I'm saying that its not much of a criticism to say that something doesn't live up to one of the greatest strengths of perhaps the best short story writer of all time. Similarly, I don't think your reviews stand up to, say, Nabokov's Lectures on Literature or Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature. But I don't dismiss them because of that.

message 19: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely But the main strength of Catcher in the Rye is supposed to be psychological realism. I'm not comparing apples to oranges. If you don't find my criticisms as useful or insightful as Nabokov and Lawrence, then I think it makes sense to ignore me and read them.

But I guess that's just my experience with reading: I keep finding new things that change my perspective and I recognize that things I used to think were original and well-written are actually redundant and clumsy. But there's a great deal of subjectivity: a book is poorly written compared to a set of standards for what makes writing good, and these standards are developed and refined by a varied experience in literature.

So, when I read a book of cynical, psychological realism, I compare it to similar books, to see whether it performs its task as well as they do, or whether it has some unique aspect they lack.

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review!

I started reading this book yesterday. I think it's hilarious but I'm not sure if I'm s'posed to take it seriously or not. It's certainly a pleasure to read but I don't think it's thaaat great.

I have one(silly)question. I remember on your review of Scott Pilgrim you mentioned you watched FLCL. I had a conversation about FLCL and one person told me that in order to fully appreciate it you have to read Catcher in the Rye. Did you see any great similarities between the two?

message 21: by David (new)

David Acevedo It figures... You hate this book too... hum... now I see a pattern. Well, more like a blood trail.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Fashionable or not fashionable, as one commenter noted, I had most of the same opinions as you about this book.

I asked someone whose literary opinion I value whether he REALLY liked the book and his response was, "Yes, doesn't everyone like Salinger?"

I read a time capsule review at the time of the book's release and it was so glowing and so full of praise my first thought was, "Someone either got paid or laid."

My point: I silently thought I was alone in my opinion. So my own review might just point to yours and have the caption: What he said.

message 23: by J.G. Keely (last edited Oct 28, 2012 08:16PM) (new)

J.G. Keely Lohengramm said: ". . . one person told me that in order to fully appreciate it you have to read Catcher in the Rye. Did you see any great similarities between the two?"

Not particularly, no.

Melissa said "I silently thought I was alone in my opinion. So my own review might just point to yours and have the caption: What he said."

Well, that's very flattering of you to say. I'm glad my review worked so well for you. As for being alone, I know it can sometimes feel that way, especially with a popular book that everyone is required to read, but I know a lot of intelligent, literary-minded people who didn't care for it.

message 24: by Traveller (new)

Traveller How on earth did it happen that i never saw this wonderful review before? Although the novel under discussion does not get 5 out of 5, your review certainly does, Mr K. ;)

message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy Hi, Keely, this review is a delightful piece of writing. It is a very political reading of the novel and the broader culture that I would like to respond to, but first I will have to re-read the book.

I would like to better understand how one (wo)man's bland can be another (wo)man's brilliance.

message 26: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Well, glad you both liked the review. Looking forward to your thoughts, Ian, if you decide to take another look at it.

message 27: by Derek (new)

Derek Thank you, Keely.

"This allows the book to draw legions of fans from all of the ridiculously dull people who take themselves as seriously as Holden takes himself."

It's like I've just been validated as someone who's not ridiculously dull...

message 28: by Keith (new)

Keith Michael this critique is certainly deserved, and i'm not fond of Catcher myself, but i cringed a little bit at the last paragraph. it is not for us to measure suffering. white man's despondency might be annoying in a world with "bigger" problems, but the same could be said of western feminism when considered from the perspective of an African refugree. This might explain why young or emotionally stunted people relate to Holden, even though it is a kinship that denies that reality of larger traumas.

i'd like to think awards are given for quality, visceral prose, and not for "stances" or politics. McCarthy is one of america's best prose writers. Perhaps his Pulitzer was belated appreciation for Blood Meridian: or the Evening Redness in the West, which is a perfect novel.

message 29: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Derek said: "Thank you, Keely."

No problem, we all need a little validation, now and then.

Keith said: "it is not for us to measure suffering"

Then who?

I'm not saying that it's invalid for the well-off to have their own pains. Everyone has their own pain, we all have difficulties we must deal with in life, and however minor they are, they will seem serious and real to the person suffering because of them.

I'm not saying a wealthy depressive suffering from ennui should be forced to feel better because there are others in the world in worse condition--that isn't how the human mind works. An American youth cleaning their plate does nothing for starving children in Africa, despite the non sequiturs of their mothers.

What I am saying is that it is naive, arrogant, and insulting to equate one experience with another. If a star quarterback is put on academic probation then turns around and says 'now I have experienced discrimination, and know what it's like to be Black, gay, and a woman', that statement is ignorant and imprecise. It doesn't mean he isn't inconvenienced by what he's going through, but to equate it with a much more painful experience is inaccurate.

I think it is imperative for every person to 'measure suffering' in their own life and in the lives of others, so that they develop a healthy sense of sympathy and empathy with their fellow human beings instead of living life only through a lens of insular self-obsession.

When a tween tweets "My parents didn't get me an iphone5--my life is over!" I don't think to myself 'what justifiable and profound suffering', I think 'what an unpleasant prat'.

"i'd like to think awards are given for quality"

I'd like to think that, too, but from what I know about awards committees, it's simply not true. They are put together by groups that have their own social, political, and artistic interests, funded by organizations that have their own preferences. Look back through the history of any award, and you will find that many of the works now considered masterpieces won none of them, while many of the former winners have become dated and forgotten.

Indeed, as critic and author William Gass famously said: "The Pulitzer Prize in fiction takes dead aim at mediocrity and almost never misses". It is an award with a history as fraught and politicized as any other, as came to light notably this year. I don't think The Road won on the merits of its prose, but as the last gasp of insular American fiction trying desperately to stay relevant amidst globalization and a Nobel Committee whose politics no longer has any interest in the hardship of white privilege.

message 30: by Keith (new)

Keith Michael Well-put. I got a little confused about whether you were referring to Salinger, McCarthy, their admirers or those that judge and award literary work. But yes, if some comparison is being made between first world and third world suffering, that is silly and insensitive. I don't really follow the culture around literary award-giving, but I thought I'd put my chin out for McCarthy, even if he is in bed with Hollywood at this point.

I saw Jonathan Franzen give a talk at my college campus, and he was an avatar of the American self- importance that you're describing. He was upset with the "disrespect" towards American writers from the Nobel committee. But why would a Swede enjoy The Corrections? It's a snarky story with microscopic focus

message 31: by Traveller (new)

Traveller If i may use the opportunity to vent a little: Jonathan Franzen is such an insufferably pompous shallow egotist, that i'm not in the least interested in him or anything he has to say, either verbally or in print.

message 32: by Derek (new)

Derek but interested enough to comment :) Vent away!

message 33: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Keith said: "I got a little confused about whether you were referring to Salinger, McCarthy, their admirers or those that judge and award literary work."

Yeah, I'm talking a bit about all three, and it does get rather busy in there. Basically, I'm trying to say that in Catcher, both the story events and the character psychology are portraying not everyday angst, but a post-traumatic disorder resulting from witnessing death. Hence, a reader who looks at a story of a boy trying to cope with the death of a friend and reads it as being 'teen angst' is conflating their own ennui with something much more psychologically damaging, which, as you say, is insensitive.

In the case of The Road, I felt that while the events of the story were certainly of the more harrowing type of suffering, the character psychology did not match up to that, and felt more like the ho-hum depression of White suburbia than the reaction of someone always surrounded by death and horror.

In the Oprah interview, McCarthy, himself, states that the theme for the book was his own sometime-distant relationship with his son, and I think that shows through. Instead of the reader, in this instance it would be the author equating the psychological turmoil of a father/son relationship in Middle Class America with the sorts of experience one expects from African civil wars. Again, it's an insensitive comparison.

And as for the Award Committees, I was trying to imply that it might be in the interest of the Pulitzer to promote precisely that sort of comparison, since American literature has so long been based around small instances of personal suffering instead of the grand, impersonal, institutional suffering of the revolutionary, the criminal, a culture, a race, or women under patriarchy.

But yeah, I've heard of Franzen remarked upon in similar ways, and there's a reason I've learned to mistrust American critical darlings, particularly those that end up on Oprah.

message 34: by Lucky Remina (last edited Dec 03, 2012 06:05PM) (new)

Lucky Remina I just learned I'm certainly a terrible person as i enjoyed those 2 books.

The New Egalitarianism reference is quite intriguing. Should it be correlate with the Awards Committees pointed above? What about Art and Music?

This review is sure eloquent and interesting. Except eventually for §6-8, which I didn't get, or was there to categorize people on how they interpret the book.

message 35: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Luckystrike-rx said: "I just learned I'm certainly a terrible person as i enjoyed those 2 books."

Oh dear, I hope that wasn't the result! As long as you enjoyed them for some other reason than the selfish justification of your own solipsism, I think we're fine. I mean, I could always be wrong about them, myself.

"The New Egalitarianism reference is quite intriguing. Should it be correlate with the Awards Committees pointed above? What about Art and Music?"

Certainly, I think it's applicable to all the arts. I suppose that's another idea that deserves to be fully fleshed-out somewhere so I can link to it handily.

The basic idea is that art is originally under control of the idle rich: they create and distribute it, and the worth of art is determined by their preferences. At that point, art is valuable when it's complex, stylized, and referential. To become a great artist (or writer, or whatever), you need to be educated, to be able to draw upon this deep well of knowledge of the history of art.

So then you have the Industrial Revolution and The Great War and these old social power structures break down and it changes our cultural values. So you got movements, like the Dadaists, where the whole idea is to reject tradition, to take art out of the hands of the establishment and make it a 'personal expression'.

Of course the irony of such conspicuous rebellion is that you have to follow trends rigorously so you can reject them and do the opposite, making you just as reliant on the tradition for your inspiration. So you get the Beat Poets, and Punk Rock, and other movements which are based not around refinement or knowledge, bu 'authenticity'.

I think a good illustration of the shift is poetry. Traditionally, poetry was considered the most difficult and complex art, require vast knowledge and skill, and works of poetry were held above prose because they were much more difficult to produce. Now, poetry is thought of mainly as an outlet for angsty teenagers trying to 'express themselves'.

And the idea of 'self-expression' is central to this concept of artistic egalitarianism, where every person's opinion is considered equally valid. Indeed, if a teen hands you their poetry and you start talking about the scansion and meter, they'll probably get upset and take is as criticism, because for them, the importance of the work is what it expresses, not how it was made.

Of course, this egalitarianism has produced great things in art: it has made the arts available to more people than ever before, it has lent importance to folk art, and it has forced art to change and evolve. But, it also means that art is no longer vitally connected to that central, knowledgeable class of experts. There are still critics, but after deconstructionism, they are just dabbling in self-expression, too, and so we get an art world full of pretension and very weak in aesthetic theory.

And yes, I think that holds for the award committees, too, since they are made up (at least in part) of those same self-indulgent critics, authors, and teachers. It is in their best interest to promote a certain brand of pretension, since it is the basis of the cultural capital which makes them respected and influential in the first place.

"Except eventually for §6-8, which I didn't get, or was there to categorize people on how they interpret the book."

Yes, I was trying to address other common readings and interpretations.

message 36: by Leajk (new)

Leajk Keith wrote: "I saw Jonathan Franzen give a talk at my college campus, and he was an avatar of the American self- importance that you're describing. He was upset with the "disrespect" towards American writers from the Nobel committee. But why would a Swede enjoy The Corrections? It's a snarky story with microscopic focus."

Yes, this Swede at least did not enjoy Franzen's Freedom. It was just trying so hard to any anything relevant to say about women's lives, when it was obviously more focused on the men and their manly buisiness. It was quite sad.

But then again the Nobel committee is as flawed as most other committies, and the guy who made the statment about American litterature is no longer the head of the board, so maybe they will choose one of the great American males soon.

message 37: by A (new)

A I think you do a better job of articulating the problems of the novel and Caulfield as a character than most. The novel still works for me, personally, even after I got over my teenage need to identify with the narrator. While I agree Salinger wasn't going for satire of the character, there is too much ironic counterpoint for it not to be at least somewhat intentional. I do like how you interpret the character as having PTSD, which works surprisingly well.

Mind you, it's been many years since I've re-read this one, so my opinion might be off here. Like most Salinger fans, I would say his other works are better than this, his most well-known.

message 38: by Lucky Remina (last edited Dec 06, 2012 02:58AM) (new)

Lucky Remina Good lord, who gave pencil and access to education to those peons, they are poisoning culture with their narrowed selfish view.

Useless sarcasm aside, I have to admit that's was interesting idea with valid argument.

However, rejecting any naïve or existential art can also lead to some lack of understanding.

Positivist knowledge can be insufficient when it comes to Art as it involve some illogical entities like feeling or unconscious.

Sensitivity is obviously part of Art beauty, even if it's almost impossible to rate and not referring on education. It would be pretty bland otherwise. Well it would be just like math.

We may also consider there were also a lack of things to discover, analyse and technically improve at some point in art history, paroxysm being certainly dadaism, which is more than a reject of tradition, but a deep questioning about art. And there were a lot of material left to dig in human sensitivity.

Sure art shouldn't be only personal projection. But individualist(sensitive) and intellectual works are both legitimate when it comes to creation.

Regarding prehistory, art also came from self conciousness. Human being most likely felt the need to project there idealist view to assert their individuality. First art being hand stencil painting. In that regard, it could be considerate as a side effect of human selfishness and arrogance.

Causality thrown me in the non-intellectual and uneducated pool, though I try to balance things and palliate my lack of knowledge. But I don't plan to give up my selfish amazement on artists and authors' semen projection any-time soon.

Well, I'm certainly missing something oblivious, let me know.

I actually liked this book because it provided quite strong feeling with bland situation, poor language (if I remember well) and insensitive hero. Well It was a while ago, I can't really detail much.

Sorry about the funky grammar and blurry ideas. I'm not really used to writing (and thinking) and it isn't my first language.

message 39: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely That's alright, your ideas are still coming across.

I was simplifying and generalizing in my comment, and I tried to say that I don't think an egalitarian approach to art is worse than an elite approach--both systems have both benefits and drawbacks.

When art is in the hands of an elite, then most artists and critics will be knowledgeable and have a well-developed aesthetic, but this also prioritizes form over content, so you get periods like the 18th Century where work was highly complex and stylized, but often at the expense of depth and passion.

Contrarily, when art is in the hands of the public, it will be much more passionate and ever-shifting, but the market will also be flooded with both artists and critics of lower skill and quality. Both approaches are valid, and each can produce great works and artists.

But they also produce very different artistic communities. The elite community is rigid and slow to change, but has a highly-developed central philosophy. The public community is very open to change, but has no common points of agreement, which can be problematic for critics, since, in order to talk about art, there must be a common basis for understanding.

It's like how, in America, a university degree started out as something an elite few got, and which was difficult to get. Now, it is a requirement for anyone who wants to get a career, and so university classes have become much easier so that the average person will be able to get a degree without too much trouble.

So, if everyone must be allowed to be an artist now, then becoming an artist is not an accomplishment. This decentralization can lead to the sort of situation which produced the 'Sokol Affair', where a scientist wrote a deliberately nonsensical paper which ended up being published and praised because the keepers of the gates did not have sufficient ability to tell quality from nonsense.

In the art world, this would lead to a situation where, without a central aesthetic by which to judge art, we default to valuing art only as an aspect of celebrity and infamy, since those will be readily apparent even to the least capable critic. At that point, art is no longer judged by the skill with which it is created, or the meaning behind it, but by its pretentiousness or ability to shock.

message 40: by Lucky Remina (last edited Dec 14, 2012 05:16PM) (new)

Lucky Remina Statu quo on egalitarianism then.

I came from the Ishmael review where I react on the Seagul and Donnie Darko reference. Reading other review I noticed a reject against more passionate/escapist tales. I have more keys now to understand and weighting incoming reviews.

I hope you don't mind if I pop in to derail some other review if I need more enlightenment.

message 41: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely "I noticed a reject against more passionate/escapist tales."

Yeah, though it depends how one defines 'escapist'. I think of it as moving away from the world, as something a person can pour time into without learning or changing. I reject that because it's not a healthy way to treat the mind.

Some people use 'escapist' to refer to something they can get 'lost in', but I don't think this is accurate. A person can get lost in the act of learning, or by confronting something new, even though these activities bring you closer to the world, not further from it. So yes, I tend to reject something that is 'escapist' in that it has no purpose outside of itself.

Even in the cases of fantasy or science fiction or horror, the themes, characters, philosophies, and art of the piece can all lead the reader to look at the world and at themselves in new ways, and can teach them things, and hence, I wouldn't consider them to be 'escapist'.

"I hope you don't mind if I pop in to derail some other review if I need more enlightenment."

If another one of my reviews inspires a response, then certainly, pop in.

message 42: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Corcoran thank you. so much more eloquent than my own review. in fact I feel quite stupid now, but you prefectly worded everything I thought about this book, and then some.

message 43: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Thanks, I'm glad it worked for you.

message 44: by Maria (new)

Maria Thank you. I have read several reviews for this book (particularly the lower ones) if only to feel that I am not alone in my opinion. This is the one I have considered best written, and also most accurate; at least from my viewpoint. I am now a sophomore, having read this book in school as a freshman. I was literally the only person in my entire grade to dislike it. They found it "relatable," simply because it was our first introduction to "picaresque" literature, whose protagonist was nothing more than a teenager, much like us. I remember our teacher telling us "if you're ever going to like this book, you'll like it as teenagers." I resigned myself to never understanding what this book had that made people come back to it time and time again.
Also, regarding one of the previous comments saying that it is fashionable to dislike it: I have found quite the opposite. It seems to me that it is a book it is "cool" to like, as though simply enjoying a certain piece of literature reflects some kind of deep self-aware psychological trait, rather than simply reflecting the fact that you liked the book. It was also mentioned to us the book had a cult following, and I have met several people outside of my school who enjoyed it.

message 45: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely I'm glad you liked my review, and that it resonated with your experience with the book. Like you, I never had the experience of sympathizing with Holden, even though I read it when I was seventeen. I guess by that point I'd already been through quite a bit in my life, not that I was particularly mature, it was just that Holden's life didn't resonate with me.

But yeah, it's funny with a big book like this, where one side says people only like it because its fashionable and the other side responds that people only dislike it because that's fashionable--just goes to show that its more important to discuss the actual book rather than get mixed up in whether or not people like it, or are supposed to like it.

Thanks for the comment.

message 46: by NK (new)

NK Layne I really like this review but it is two fold. On one hand I really like the book because the mc reminded me of my own experiences with death mourning and mortality. That to the side, it is very natural to shove yourself in a book even when the subjects and themes should be distant to you. That's what empathetic connections are about which is the core to reading. Dumbing down the book to your own angst is frustrating to myself as well because I connected to it in a certain way and even if my way is more correct, I can't be angry at others for exercising their empathetic muscles.

message 47: by Anirudh (new)

Anirudh Nice review :) I haven't read it but going from what I am hearing from my friends I won't like it.

message 48: by Cosmic (new)

Cosmic Arcata The Catcher in the Rye is about WW2. It is a story within a story. Holden (which is the name of a car) is just a vehicle to "understand" the WW2. See my review. When you understand that Salinger couldn't say what he knew about this war so he wrote it as a children's book... Just like Felix Salten in Bambi (not the Disney version, which is probably why Salinger didn't get his published.

Salinger tells you this is nit a David Copperfield story. So don't read it like it is about Holden. Hint: look at the first page of David Copperfield to understand "Caiulfields" name.

I hope you will reread it again. This time when you get to the Merry go round play the music Salinger said was playing, and see if that makes sense or if he is using this book to tell you about money, power and war.

message 49: by Wealhtheow (last edited Jan 14, 2014 08:40AM) (new)

Wealhtheow Huh, I never thought that Holden got his last name from David Copperfield's caul, but it's possible. Is there anything about drowning or spirits in The Catcher in the Rye, though?

Keely talks about shell shock and Salinger's experiences with war in this review already, so I think he got that WWII was an influence, but thanks for expounding on that point.

message 50: by Wealhtheow (new)

Wealhtheow Oh no, I loved Hesse when I was a teen, but I haven't read anything by him in years. What if I don't like any of it anymore? You've put fear into my heart, Achim!

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