J.D. Salinger Dies at Age 91

J.D. Salinger, the author of the classic modern novel about teenage rebellion, “The Catcher in the Rye,” has died. He was 91 and had lived for decades in isolation in a small, remote house in Cornish, N.H.

In a statement from Salinger’s literary agent, the author’s son said Salinger died of natural causes at his home on Wednesday.

Published in 1951, “The Catcher in the Rye” became one of the most influential American novels of the modern era and perhaps left its biggest mark in high school and freshman college English courses.

Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in “The Catcher in the Rye,” became a symbol for the angry and rebellious modern teenager and of adolescent angst. Sales of the book, according to the Associated Press, have reached more than 60 million copies worldwide.

But almost immediately after it was published, Salinger became disillusioned with the publishing industry and retreated into seclusion. He published only three more books: “Nine Stories,” “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.” His last published work was in 1965 in the New Yorker.

On Thursday, Jim Lehrer talked to the University of Michigan’s Nicholas Delbanco and Syracuse University’s Robert Thompson about Salinger’s life and work:

Appreciations for Salinger, as you can imagine, are coming from everywhere. We’ll compile the best here, and please leave your thoughts and comments below.


The New Yorker, where Salinger published many of his stories, is making available all of his stories through its online edition.


Charles McGrath, writing for the New York Times:

“As a young man, Mr. Salinger had a long, melancholy face and deep soulful eyes, but now, in the few photographs that surfaced, he looked gaunt and gray, like someone in an El Greco painting. He spent more time and energy avoiding the world, it was sometimes said, than most people do in embracing it, and his elusiveness only added to the mythology growing up around him. Depending on your point of view, he was either a crackpot or the American Tolstoy, who had turned silence itself into his most eloquent work of art.”

The New York Times Learning Network also has a variety of resources on Salinger’s work for teachers and students.


GalleyCat is compiling reviews from well-known critics, including Jonathan Yardley and John Updike, who last year also died on Jan. 27.


Julia Keller, writing on the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row:

“To read ‘Salinger’ and ‘91’ in the same sentence is a shock, an abomination. And yet there it is, the blunt and brutal fact of it, showing up in news reports of the author’s death like a rock holding down a butterfly wing: J.D. Salinger, who died earlier today, was 91.”


Stephen Metcalf, writing for Slate:

“Like many of my fellow pilgrims, I hit adolescence only to discover my autobiography had already been written; plagiarized, in fact, by a man named J.D. Salinger who, in appropriating to himself my inner mass of pain and confusion, had given me the unlikely name of ‘Holden Caulfield.’”