Sunday, March 7, 2010
Good bye, phoney world
So finally we may know the answer to one of those enigmatic questions which are the life-blood of the literary world: Was J.D. Salinger writing away all these years that he hid himself in his New Hampshire fastness and if so, what? The man who turned his back on literary success and adulation, vanished Garbo-like into iron-clad privacy and thus became a living legend, died on January 27 at the age of 91. And that fact entitles us to make an exception to the general rule of not repeating writers in this column.
Salinger's allure is as much due to his only novel, the 1951 angst-ridden classic of American adolescence - The Catcher in the Rye- as to his obsessive desire for privacy. When the book that still sells a quarter of a million copies every year, was coming out in the US, Salinger was hiding in London. He wanted his photograph removed from the dust jacket of subsequent editions, instructed his agents to burn fan mail and come 1953, moved into a wooded compound in New Hampshire where he was to stay till his death last month. A bit strange for a man who, in his college days, had boasted of his literary talents and ambitions, announcing that he would write The Great American Novel.
But the world doesn't let anyone be, least of all people who shun it. Two self-serving memoirs, one by Joan Maynard with whom he had an affair when he was 53 and she 18 and the second by his daughter, Margaret Salinger violated his privacy with revelations and allegations about his behaviour. He also had to wage legal battles to stop an unauthorized biography and an obvious Catcher rip-off. And already people are visiting Cornish, New Hampshire to be told that he was actually no recluse, but a friendly townsman, who liked to come to church dinners.
Full report here Hindu