J. D. (Jerome David) Salinger was born in New York City on January 1, 1919. He published his most famous work, The Catcher in the Rye, in 1951. After that, he never wrote another novel but focused his work primarily on a family that he created: the Glasses, composed of the parents, Les and Bessie, and the children, Seymour, Buddy, Boo Boo, Walter, Waker, Zooey, and Franny. As children and adolescents, all of the siblings performed on a radio talk show for children called "It's a Wise Child." But most of the stories deal with the adult lives of the children.
The stories about the Glasses were published almost exclusively in the New Yorker magazine. The Glasses, and J. D. Salinger, were extremely popular. Many people attribute this popularity to the fact that the Glass stories were all about one family. The idea of family and domesticity was often explored in 1950s literature. Some critics argue also that the general interest in fame and the effects of celebrity caused these stories to interest so many people. Or perhaps it was just Salinger's dry wit and attention to detail. Whatever the cause, these stories caused a sensation when they were published.
These texts, though so popularly successful, are sharp social criticism. Many of the things that J. D. Salinger attacks in his fiction were prominent features of postwar society. For example, the 1950s are notorious for being an age of conformity and of blind acceptance of the work of intellectuals. Salinger's Glass family stories, as well as his other works, specifically mock these two trends. Furthermore, in that period, an age of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, extreme patriotism, and general unreserved support of Western culture, Salinger drew inspiration and values from Eastern philosophy and Russian folk tales. Despite these potentially controversial elements, Franny and Zooey, published in book form in 1961, was an instant bestseller.
I am a huge JD Salinger fan, and I'm one of those people who's read "Catcher in the Rye" like 200 times, several times a year since I was about twelve. I buy into every cliche said about it: it changed my life, it made me want to write, it validated my own teen angst, Salinger captures teen-speak amazingly well, Holden Caulfield is vulnerable and wise, a kid-hero, etc.
Take a Study Break!