The Fiction of J. D. Salinger

The Fiction of J. D. Salinger

The Fiction of J. D. Salinger

The Fiction of J. D. Salinger

Excerpt

For the future historian, the most significant fact about American literary culture of the Post- War Period may be that whereas young readers of the Inter-War Period knew intimately the work of a goodly number of coeval writers (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Wolfe, Sinclair Lewis, for example), the only Post-War fiction unanimously approved by contemporary literate American youth consists of about five hundred pages by Jerome David Salinger.

Just why he is the one writer to whom so many young men and women, high-brow and middle- brow, in college and out, are devoted is not yet clear, although there is no lack of critical guesses as to the magnetic core of his work. For Heiserman and Miller (see Bibliography for these references), Salinger's fiction centers on the necessity for love, and its most striking feature is the poignancy of its humor. For David Stevenson, the typical crisis of a Salinger story sends the reader back into his own problems, making him aware of how we are "members all of the lonely crowd." Ihab Hassan sees a double conflict at the heart of Salinger's writing--the struggle between what Leslie Fiedler calls the "dream of innocence and the fact of guilt," and the tension between "the Assertive Vulgarian and the Responsive Outsider," the typical Salingerian hero being the out-

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