Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review : The Catcher In The Rye - J D Salinger****

"In 1981, it was both the most censored book and the second most taught book in public schools in the United States."

That fact sums up the protagonist Holden Caulfield, he may have become an icon of teenage angst and rebellion, but what is he angry about and rebelling against ? Salinger's creation is both very clever and unlikeable, the boy's inner thoughts are nihilistic and aggravating, he sees almost everything as being false and shallow, phony, but he himself likes, enjoys and loves almost nothing, save perhaps his younger sister.

The book still has resonance for teenagers today, I can remember having some of the feelings that Holden Caulfield has, the fear of growing up and accepting your adulthood being expressed in disdain for and a lack of appreciation of other people and their likes and opinions.

Caulfield's opinions about other people are neatly exposed when his younger sister challenges him to find a single thing that he loves or enjoys doing, and he can find nothing of consequence.

The basis of Caulfield's loathing and prejudices are not fully explored but are alluded to at the end of the book when it appears he is residing in a mental institution of some sort, which in turns calls in to doubt whether he was just an angry young man, or whether there was some medical problem underlying his perception of the world around him.


  1. YS you're supposed to be on holiday, so you choose to take a bunch of starchy 'classics' with you and War and Peace, or A Tail of Two Cities to round off the trio....

  2. Er, I also brought Wuthering Heights, The Bell Jar, Lord Of The Flies.......

  3. So that's what the gas guzzling truck is for, moving your library round! Sounds like you're having a cracking time....

  4. I loathed this book, with every fibre of my being, and thoroughly resented having to write two essays about it in high school. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I read it now, with my education in the field of, and experience with the treatment of mental illness, but I can't bring myself to pick it up again.

    Sense and Sensibility, on the other hand, is one that I have read more than once. I'm not surprised that you didn't like it, though, as the best thing about Jane Austen is her ability to create romantic male leads. She does translate well to the screen, and I suggest that you watch the version of S&S starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Alan Rickman. All of the characters are cast perfectly, and Emma Thompson's screenplay is quite impressive. She's much more succinct than Austen. ;) Richard really enjoyed it, twice, and he's no fan of Austen in print, believe me!