The world bid farewell to the legendary author J.D. Salinger on January 27, a loss that resonated throughout The New York Public Library.
“Teens still come in to the library every day to check out Salinger books, especially The Catcher in the Rye,” said Jack Martin, the Assistant Director of Public Programs and Lifelong Learning at the Library. “With Holden Caulfield he created a cultural icon that captures what it means to be an outcast that still resonates with today’s teens.”
“J. D. Salinger was one of those very few writers whose enormous artistic achievement is out of all proportion to the small place their writings occupy on the bookshelf,” said Isaac Gewirtz, Curator of The New York Public Library’s Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature. “His one great novel was, of course, The Catcher in the Rye, but several of the 'Franny and Zooey' Glass family stories, especially the first, 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish,' are also classics. As with all great writers at their best, Salinger seemed never to stumble, and from the moment you begin to read their work, you are immersed in their world, with every detail of it perfectly imagined and rendered. One of Salinger’s early fans was Vladimir Nabokov, whose papers and working library are in the Berg. The latter includes his copy of The New Yorker’s anniversary volume of short stories, containing what the editors regarded as the fifty-five best that the magazine had published from 1940 to 1950. Nabokov graded each of the stories (there are a lot of Cs and Ds), and the only stories he awarded an A+ were his own ('Colette') and Salinger’s 'Bananafish.' A tribute from one master to another.”
The Library has several Salinger holdings within its collections. The Berg Collection holds a small group of Salinger correspondence, including a letter to the American poet Howard Moss in which Salinger praises the new volume of poetry that Moss has sent him, commenting on several poems specifically, and writing about having drinks with the writer Jean Stafford.
Within the Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division there are original submissions by Salinger to The New Yorker starting in 1941 as well as an editorial correspondence with Harold Ross.
And of course Salinger’s classic work is available at branch libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island for patrons to check out.
For more information or to schedule an interview about this please call (212) 592-7710 or e-mail Angela_Montefinise@nypl.org
Image courtesy of the New Yorker Records, NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division.