Christopher Hitchens on J.D. Salinger

10 thoughts on “Christopher Hitchens on J.D. Salinger”

    1. i never assigned it to a whole class–we didn’t have a class set–but i gave it to a few kids to read here and there. i think the essential themes of the book are pretty timeless even if the whole postwar culture shift the book points to is a bit dated.


  1. Salinger, along with F Scott Fitzgerald, is one of the most overrated and uninteresting writers in the history of literature. Being so-called ‘dated’ is not the problem. From that point of view, Shakespeare is ‘dated.’ The problem with Salinger is the lack of a real vision as well as his adolescent conception of reality. He is no Melville, let alone Faulkner, let alone Purdy!


  2. Salinger is overrated; Fitzgerald is overrated, sure; also overrated: Shakespeare, Nietzsche, The Wire, Thai massage, the LA Lakers, etc. Just because something’s overrated isn’t an argument that it sucks. Your nebulous contention that Salinger has no “real vision” seems negated by the second part of your sentence, the (overrated, uninteresting) idea that Salinger espoused an “adolescent conception of reality” (not sure what that means; perhaps a confusion distinguishing between the narrator Holden and the author Salinger. The Bloomian idea that authors must be in some kind of Oedipal battle with each other holds no water at Biblioklept–so what if Salinger is “no Melville” or Faulkner? Who gives a flying fuck?


  3. There’s a difference between oversaturation, and something being overrated. Granted, there is, perhaps, a degree to which we’re oversaturated with Shakespeare, and perhaps Nietzsche, but neither can be overrated. Both remain far beyond their times, and far beyond this time, and when the dust settles in another 100 years, and another, both Shakes and Nietzschy will remain.

    The view espoused above is not informed by Bloom, nor is there a confusion between character and narrator, or character and writer. This is a question of vision, of scope and variety, and such scope and variety are not evident in America’s beloved JDS. He has what he has, but the arc of that line is short. Nothing nebulous there. Who gives a fuck? Those to whom proportion and measure mean something. Now Faulkner, there’s a different story, Charley.


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