If you asked a room of ten people what their all-time favorite novel is, we guarantee you at least one of them would say The Catcher in the Rye. This seminal coming-of-age tale is a stone-cold American classic and rightly talked about as one of the greatest novels ever written. Penned by the enigmatic, elusive, and hugely talented J.D. Salinger, the book continues to influence and inspire people around the world.
Salinger died in 2010, at the age of 91, yet his legacy continues to endure to this day. His novel about a rebellious teenage boy coming of age against the backdrop of a changing America became a staple of classrooms everywhere. Just 32-years-old at the time the novel was published, Salinger was considered one of the most promising writers of his generation; here are some stunning things you never knew about him.
He only ever wrote one novel
If you thought Harper Lee’s slim body of work and subsequent withdrawal from public view was impressive, she had nothing on Salinger. After penning The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger would never write another novel. Indeed, he continued publishing short stories, but his final original work was as far back as 1965, and he gave his last ever interview in 1980. Salinger did not embrace his celebrity, nor did he care for it, and this is probably what led to him not writing any more novels.
He only allowed one movie adaptation
At the beginning of his career, Salinger was more amenable to the idea of having his work adapted for the big screen. He allowed a movie adaptation of ‘Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,’ a short story he wrote. The movie, titled My Foolish Heart, was released in 1949 and took a lot of liberties. Salinger reportedly hated it, and, after the movie was panned he resolved to refuse all future rights to adapt anything. He even went so far as to turn down legendary Hollywood director Billy Wilder, who proposed an adaptation of The Catcher in the Rye.
He sued his biographer
If one thing sums Salinger up more than any other, it’s the fact that he tried to sue his biographer! Author Ian Hamilton pursued the idea of doing a biography on Salinger in the 1980s, which Salinger, of course, was angered by. He tried to prevent Hamilton from using extracts from unpublished letters and won the court ruling. In 1988, Hamilton wrote a book about his legal wranglings with Salinger entitled In Search of J.D. Salinger. The book is a fascinating read and sheds some light on the enigmatic character of Salinger, as well as his aversion to any kind of fame or recognition.
The man continues to fascinate, almost a decade after his death. In fact, J.D. Salinger was so elusive and reclusive that he has become almost an urban legend in his own right. The brilliant mind who crafted one of the greatest novels of all time, and then struggled to live with his newfound status. These are just a few of the remarkable things you definitely won’t have known about J.D. Salinger, and they give you a great insight into the man behind the book.