Cover image for A reader's guide to J.D. Salinger
A reader's guide to J.D. Salinger
Alsen, Eberhard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 270 pages ; 25 cm
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
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PS3537.A426 Z538 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Few contemporary writers are as enigmatic as J. D. Salinger. Best known for "The Catcher in the Rye," which continues to be read and discussed by secondary school students, undergraduates, and scholars, Salinger also wrote numerous shorter works. This reference covers his entire oeuvre. Since Salinger's life figures prominently in his works, an introductory essay considers autobiographical elements in his writings and foregrounds the chapters that follow. Subsequent chapters examine each of his major works, or a collection of related writings.

Included are discussions of such topics as, critical reception, themes, narrative structure and point of view, characterization and style, settings and symbols, and interpretations of his texts. Chapters close with lists of works for further reading, and the volume concludes with several appendices and extensive primary and secondary bibliographies.

Author Notes

Eberhard Alsen is Professor Emeritus of the State University of New York, Cortland

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Following recent biographical studies--Paul Alexander's Salinger: A Biography (CH, Dec'99) and Margaret Salinger's family retrospective Dream Catcher: A Memoir (2000), and the sideline volume Letters to J.D. Salinger, ed. by Chris Kubica and Will Hochman (CH, Oct'02)--Alsen's excellent book is a vital resource for students, aficionados, and critics. In the introduction, Alsen (SUNY, Cortland) surveys Salinger's life, reflected in his fiction. He then provides a chronological consideration of Salinger's basic oeuvre: early stories, then all the other, familiar, works. Keenly interested in Salinger's "vision of life" (occasionally expressed in non sequiturs), Alsen examines each text's theme, point of view, symbolism, characterization, and narrative structure. Additional chapters discuss Salinger's Glass Family series and his reputation. Alsen's penetrating intelligence is evident in his evaluation of criticism of The Catcher in the Rye, in which he notes the continuing lack of "any good psychological analyses" and treatment of "the theme of social class and privilege," and "the reader response approach." Alsen includes an extensive bibliography and three important appendixes: "Index of Salinger's Fictional Characters," "Glass Family Chronology," and "Salinger's Philosophy of Composition." Summing Up: Essential. All collections supporting study of 20th-century American literature. S. I. Bellman emeritus, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Table of Contents

Prologue: "Yet there is method in't"p. ix
Introduction: Salinger's Life as Reflected in His Fictionp. 1
Chapter 1 The Early Storiesp. 17
Chapter 2 "The Inverted Forest"p. 41
Chapter 3 The Catcher in the Ryep. 53
Chapter 4 Nine Storiesp. 79
Chapter 5 "Franny"p. 105
Chapter 6 "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters"p. 121
Chapter 7 "Zooey"p. 145
Chapter 8 "Seymour--An Introduction"p. 165
Chapter 9 "Hapworth 16, 1924"p. 185
Chapter 10 The Glass Family Seriesp. 205
Conclusion: The Persistence of Salinger's Reputationp. 215
Epilogue: Salinger's Non-Sequitursp. 221
Appendix I Index of Salinger's Fictional Charactersp. 223
Appendix II A Glass Family Chronologyp. 235
Appendix III Salinger's Philosophy of Compositionp. 241
Fiction Published by J.D. Salingerp. 249
Books on J.D. Salinger and his Workp. 250
Religious Texts Mentioned by J.D. Salingerp. 251
Cumulative List of Works Citedp. 252
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 259
Indexp. 263