herald

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Catcher In The Rye author was not a recluse but a loyal friend

FRIENDLY: Salinger's image revamp

LETTERS from Catcher In The Rye author JD Salinger shed new light on the "reclusive" writer, say academics.

The American died last year aged 91.

The collection of four handwritten postcards and 50 typed letters dating from October 1986 to January 2002 were given to the University of East Anglia (UEA) in England.

Professor of American Studies Chris Bigsby said they allowed an insight into someone who subjected to controversy.



CLASSIC

He said: "Salinger had this reputation as a recluse, that he kept himself to himself. There is nothing startling in these letters, but that is what is so interesting about them.

"This is another Salinger, this is an ordinary Salinger, not the reclusive, angry person people thought he was."

First published in 1951, The Catcher In The Rye's story of teen angst went on to sell millions worldwide and become a much-loved classic.

Londoner Donald Hartog, who died in 2007, met Salinger in 1937 when they were both teenagers and sent by their fathers to learn German in Vienna.

The pair kept in touch following their return home until the 1950s, and struck up communications again when Mr Hartog, a food importer and exporter, wrote to Salinger in 1986.

Mr Hartog's daughter, Frances, said the steady flow of letters revealed the author's humour and friendship.

She said: "There is tremendous warmth and affection towards my father and this is so different to the man Salinger is often portrayed as.

"The letters have been sitting in a drawer, but hopefully by being in the archive they will show people another side to him."

Addressing Mr Hartog as Don and signing the letters as Jerry, Salinger wrote about everyday topics, referring to his family, old age and recalling the time spent in Vienna.

The author offered to help Mr Hartog's three children, suggesting books which might be of interest and sending cuttings of magazine articles he might like.

The letters also reveal that, despite the public perception of Salinger as a recluse, he did travel, though he admitted he did not enjoy it.



casual

Ms Hartog, who met Salinger when he visited London, added: "I think there was this extra bond between my father and Salinger because they met before the war.

"The letters are very touching, because it's a man growing older, and they are written very much in the style of his books -- casual but using exactly the right words.

"This isn't the fighting Salinger of the 1960s, though he talks quite aggressively about publishing and publicity."

hnews@herald.ie

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