The critics always worked busily to classify J.D. Salinger. He always eluded them.
There was always a feeling in many quarters that altogether too much fuss was being made about J.D. Salinger. George Steiner once castigated it as “The Salinger Industry.” And that was before Franny and Zooey, or Salinger’s iconic protrait on the cover of Time. Even today, as then, there is hardly a journal that has not weighed the merits of the elusive and fascinating Salinger. The “Salinger Industry” still trails the Hemingway legacy, but it is still central to the chase.
Though Steiner at the time classified Salinger as a “good minor writer,” the extraordinary thing about Salinger is that somehow he would , or coud not play nice and stay in his station assigned to him; The sum of the parts being disjointed and remote from the inventoried whole. He preoccupied more than the equation of all his virtues and all his shortcomings that could be suggested and imputed to him. There were other “good minor” writers whose work was arguably better than Salinger’s , but they did not hold the imagination, or for that matter irritate the cognoscenti in nearly the same and annoying manner that Salinger saw fit.
And this was not only true of Salinger’s sympathetic critics, as it held true for the antagonistic and indifferent. How many “minor writers” were there whom the critics felt called upon to take it upon themselves to put in their place? The fact of heavyweights like Alfred Kazin spilling gobs of ink to indignantly point out the philosophical defects or the irritating manners of Salinger’s characters, is representative of Salinger”s capacity for an exalted level of reality; of shoving it up the critics swollen nostrils without hesitation.
In short, there was a Salinger cult, and it still reverberates, with the hostile as well as partisan critics caught up in it. The ghost of Seymour Glass can still be discerned faintly in the shadows of our own popular culture habitat. That is, Salinger’s power to give reality to his creatures was a fact, despite all the cogent and expert strictures against his technique. Another high priest, Maxwell Geismer, complained that Salinger’s characters existed in a sociological void, thet they were not rounded fictional creations, with their environment, friends and foes, their politics, their jobs, their psychological case histories, and their sex lives all in place. Same for Mary McCarthy who backhanded Catcher in the Rye as a performance feat “of a one armed violinist.” Tut tut. Salinger was in advance in using the device of first person narrative.
Whatever the differences, the problem with Salinger critics is their loss at finding a repair to base comparisons on. Salinger was most frequently compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ring Lardner, but this was more a frantic search for models, parallels, or at lest echoes , that navigated literary waters as varied as Tolstoy and Kerouac. In part, this is a
ute to Salinger’s originality, and his inability to be cleanly summarized and clinically examined.
In Salinger’s work, persons and objects, even when they are part of the commonplace, assume a certain glow that cannot be conveyed in lengthy quotations out of context. It is this quality, among all the many others enumerated, that most strongly links Salinger to Fitzgerald.
( see link at end) …If the fistful of Salinger letters that have emerged since 2010 impart any significant news, it is the constant confirmation by Salinger himself that he was indeed still writing during the decades of his seclusion and amassing a considerable body of work. Pages that dissatisfied the author, he burned rather than risk them being retrieved from the trash. A fire that destroyed much of his home in 1992 providentially spared his writing studio where he stored his manuscripts, convincing Salinger to purchase a small fireproof vault in which to safeguard the trove. Neighbors recall him, even at age 90, intently filling in a small notebook he apparently carried everywhere.
These and numerous other references are tantalizing clues to what may potentially prove to be the greatest group of posthumous publications since Kafka – and the hope of Salinger enthusiasts worldwide. But where is Salinger’s Max Brod?
So far, the world has been denied access to Salinger’s legendary hoard of unpublished works and his estate (which legally consists of his widow and son) has refused to acknowledge even the existence of the mysterious manuscripts, much less offer any hope that they will be made available to an anxious reading public. In all likelihood, that decision relies upon Salinger’s last will and testament, the contents of which are rumored to contain a clause requesting that the author’s family wait a number of years before publishing anything new, if only to forestall Salinger’s own fans from dancing on his grave….
…The author, who was famous for demanding control over every detail of his work while living, is still in control. In a sense, J.D. Salinger has been able to cheat death because – in the continued absence of his unpublished manuscripts – he has managed to deny us the ability to measure the second half of his life and to determine his full impact upon literature.Read More:http://www.salon.com/2012/01/17/what_was_j_d_salinger_working_on/