J. D. Salinger Typed Letter Signed
Nearly 30 years after its release, the reclusive Salinger discusses Catcher in the Rye
Critics delighted in the “subjective” perspective of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, but Salinger’s later writings fell short of literary acclaim. Released in The New Yorker in 1965, ‘Hapworth 16, 1924’ was his last published work. Though disparaged by critics who deemed the piece self-indulgent, Salinger considered it the high point of his career. The author saw the maturation of subjectivity in his writing, a complete escape from the distasteful “usual context.” He seems to confirm this in the letter, referring obliquely to himself in those “couple of people” who “lonelily reconstitute words to suit themselves.”
Many speculate the harsh critical reception of “Hapworth” caused him to stop publishing, but he continued to write only to suit himself, supposedly completing as many as fifteen novels in his remote New England home. Salinger had moved to “attractively inaccessible” Cornish, New Hampshire in 1953 to escape his unwanted fame. Although he occasionally attended church suppers and was often found shopping in town, he remained aloof even to locals. As to the press and admirers, he was completely remote: Salinger gave his last interview a few months after this letter.
Although the Morgan Library has a number of letters addressed to the identical recipient, this missive is unique in its reference to his bestselling classic, and is signed with his uncommon full signature. A rare and exceptional piece of correspondence from the enigmatic writer, and the perfect combination of topics: his most famous work and his reclusive lifestyle.
TLS, two pages, 5.5 x 8.5, March 10, 1980. Letter to paramour Janet Eagleson, a sometime houseguest at his reclusive New Hampshire home, reads, in part: “I do indeed take your brother Tim’s assessment of The Catcher in the Rye as ‘subjective’ as a compliment. A high and entirely comfortable compliment.”
Salinger goes on to apologize for an “inaccurate magazine article” about his testiness towards outsiders who “sometimes park their cars across my driveway or lay for me outside the P.O. with their zoom-lens cameras, things like that, as that piece he saw tried to convey.” He closes this letter with some kind words about Eagleson’s home state of Maine, and takes a jab at New Hampshire’s first in the country primary, “Nice that you live in Maine, I think. So northern, so attractively inaccessible, so removed from asinine Presidential primaries.”
He goes on to refer a couple of good baseball books for Tim, stating, “Baseball books. There just aren’t that many good baseball books. Wish I’d saved all my good old… Merriwell books…” The letter is signed, “JD Salinger,” a rare deviation from his usual “Jerry.”
In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope.