For anyone who was a literate North-American adolescent during the 1950s, it is probably difficult, even after fifteen or twenty years, to go beyond a personal estimate and/or historical estimate of the fiction of J. D. Salinger and attempt a 'real' estimate. The task will be especially difficult for those who were in those days uncritical enthusiasts of Nine Stories, The Catcher in the Rye and the Glass stories; for a retrospective distaste and embarrassment over one's youthful intensities, idealisings and over-simplifications may well make for a prejudiced reading.
The possibility of overreaction on my part may be indicated by a catalogue of the Salingeresque items—tokens of sensitivity, emblems of non‐ aggression, touchstones of selflessness—that fell out of my copy of Catcher when I recently opened it for the first time in a decade and a half: (a) a transcript of a poem by the then Brother Antonius, which begins
Annul in me my manhood, Lord, and make
Me woman-sexed and weak,
If by that total transformation
I might know Thee more;
(b) another of a Bob Dylan song, which begins with____________________