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The Impact of World War II on Salinger’s Writing

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In this film outtake from Salinger, writer David Shields discusses the relationship between Salinger’s writing and his grisly experience of World War II, where he faced both the D-Day landing and the atrocities at a subcamp of the concentration camp Dachau.

Watch Film Outtake of Salinger

David Shields sees World War II as a “covert meditation” in Salinger’s literary work. He relates Salinger’s wartime experiences to the depressed characters in his short stories, including the forlorn sergeant in For Esmé With Love and Squalor (1950) and Seymour Glass, a World War II veteran whose depression in A Perfect Day for Bananafish (1948) leads to suicide.

As a man who was half-Jewish, half-Irish, “the horrors of World War II spoke particularly powerfully to him,” says Shields of J.D. Salinger.

David Shields is the co-author with Shane Salerno of Salinger, the official book of the documentary film.