Timeline 1951: The Catcher in the Rye is Published by Little, Brown and Co. It is Salinger’s first novel. 1951: Banned in libraries and schools across the United States and continues to find a place on banned lists across the nation. 1951: The Catcher in the Rye was on the New York Times bestsellers list and remained there for 30 weeks! It was both the most frequently banned and the most widely read book in the year of its publication. 1963: Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is published and often taught as a companion to The Catcher in the Rye as it also portrays madness sympathetically. 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald assassinates President John F. Kennedy and there are some claims that in part his inspiration came from The Catcher in the Rye.
Timeline continued... 1965: Jerome David Salinger stops publishing and becomes a recluse. His fame rises exponentially, with rumors of his eccentric personal habits and unpublished manuscripts. 1980: Mark David Chapman murders John Lennon (of Beatles fame) and claims to have been inspired by The Catcher in the Rye. He even read a passage from the book during his sentencing. He was denied parole earlier this month. 1998: Former lover, Joyce Maynard, publishes a memoir that betrays the reclusive lifestyle Salinger aspired to by vividly portraying their affair. 2000: Margaret Salinger, J.D.’s daughter, publishes a controversial memoir that exposes her reclusive father, revealing a number of similarities between her father and his famous protagonist. January 29, 2010: J.D. Salinger dies at home; he was 91. An average of 200,000 copies of The Catcher in the Rye are sold in the U.S. each year.
Former Lover Confirms Holden and J.D. Collide Joyce Maynard, “It’s true of Jerry [J. D.], as it is of Holden Caulfield, that there are many things he despises in the world. Most things, probably. But he is also funny and observant and extraordinarily tender--sentimental, even--about things he loves. Often things have to do with his children, or with any rare evidence he finds in the world of true innocence or simplicity.” (83) Joyce notes after reading The Catcher in the Rye, “Although this is my first exposure to Salinger’s published work, the voice in the novel is instantly recognizable. It could be Jerry [J.D.] talking. It’s not just that Jerry has inserted so many of his opinions--about movies, or books, or actors, or music--into Catcher in the Rye. What’s familiar is the point of view and the eye of the young Holden Caulfield, which is very nearly the same as that of the man with whom I have been corresponding these last few days.” (88) Joyce Maynard states, “The portrait of Phoebe, the tenderness with which Jerry portrays her, makes all other girls in the novel seem corrupt and practically ugly by comparison. Reading his description of Phoebe makes me love her. I want Jerry to feel, about me, the way he does about Phoebe.” (88) Joyce Maynard, “I hate myself for wanting worldly things, and still I want them. The wonderful un-self-consciousness and innocence of Phoebe Caufield riding the carousel is something I no longer possess.” (167) Joyce Maynard recalls, “Jerry [J.D.] can be mood and cranky, and even his humor is tinged with sharp, practically sneering bitterness that scares me. His assessments of most people around him are withering, even brutal.” (148)
Time Period of TCITR 1941 Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor 1942 Anne Frank Goes Into Hiding T-shirt Introduced 1943 Italy Joins the Allies Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 1944 Ballpoint Pens Go On Sale D-Day First German V1 and V2 Rockets Fired Hitler Escapes Assassination Attempt Polaroid Cameras Invented 1945 FDR Dies First Computer Built (ENIAC) Germans Surrender Hitler Commits Suicide Microwave Oven Invented Slinky Toy Hits Shelves United Nations Founded U.S. Drops Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1946 Bikinis Introduced Dr. Spock's The Common Book of Baby and Child Care Is Published Dr. Spock's The Common Book of Baby and Child Care Is Published Juan Perón Becomes President of Argentina
Timeline Continued... 1947 Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier Dead Sea Scrolls Discovered Jewish Refugees Aboard the Exodus Turned Back by British Marshall Plan 1948 Berlin Airlift "Big Bang" Theory Formulated Gandhi Assassinated State of Israel Founded 1949 China Becomes Communist First Non-Stop Flight Around the World George Orwell Publishes Nineteen Eight-Four NATO Established Soviet Union Has Atomic Bomb December 1949: This is the stated time period of the action in the book. Two weeks before Christmas. Holden would have been telling the story in the summer of 1950. Remember, the book was published in 1951. J.D. Salinger was 32.
What the Critics Say... “The Catcher in the Rye was the book that taught me what I ought already to have known: that literature can speak for you, not just to you. It seemed to me ‘my book.’” -Ian Hamilton, Author of In Search of J. D. Salinger “The pleasures of The Catcher in the Rye adequately are revealed by its famous first paragraph...The ear, inner and outer, is certainly evident, and the tone is alive and consistent.” -Harold Bloom, as stated in Modern Critical Reviews, J. D. Salinger “With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young. Reading “Catcher” used to be an essential rite of passage, almost as important as getting your learner’s permit.” -Charles McGrath, New York Times