“I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice,” said J.D. Salinger’s character Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. And personally, I’m excited about the recent Salinger news.
The author had stored away some books which he stated could only be published after his death. Salinger died in 2010 and the books are due to be published in the next few years.
The news was released at the Toronto Film Festival where the new Salinger documentary was being premiered. The documentary appropriately titled Salinger, interviews stars such as Edward Norton, John Cusak, Martin Sheen, Judd Apatow, Danny DeVitto and will even feature archival footage of Salinger himself. Judging by the trailer, the movie seems to center around The Catcher in the Rye and the conspiracies surrounding the novel. The trailer claims that the movie will expose why Salinger stopped publishing his writing.
“Never trust the movie. Treat it how you’d treat a Wikipeadia article,” English professor Matte Robinson said. “The worst thing you could do, would be to go to a literary movie with a literary scholar. If you want learn about the period, trust the scholar and not the movie.”
In 1965, Salinger received major backlash after The Catcher in the Rye was said to have been the cause behind several murders, the most well known being the murder of John Lennon. Since then, Salinger had retreated from the public eye and ceased to publish anything else. However, that did not mean he stopped writing.
During the forty years which Salinger had withdrawn from society, he had been working on The Family Glass which is a continuation of the Glass family from his novel Franny and Zooey, and The Last and Best of the Peter Pans, a collection of shorter works, some of which will include the Caulfield family from Catcher in the Rye. The soon to be published works will also include a World War Two novella.
The news has some fans excited and eager while others are worried they may ruin the classic characters which we know and love.
“It’s kind of scary to have more works on the Caulfields because it might wreck your perspective of them,” said Alyssa Fry, an English major at STU.
“I think fans will be disappointed if they edit it too much because it’ll be different from how we’ve come to expect his writing style to be. I think you’d be able to tell the difference.”
As a literary scholar, Robinson works on editing manuscripts by deceased authors. He says there is definitely a difference between a living author publishing a book rather than a dead one. A living author is able to collaborate with the editor and approve their works.
Robinson says it’s a scholar’s job to be faithful to the author’s work. In some manuscripts, authors leave some words crossed out and the scholar is left with the option to either cut out the crossed words or keep them in the piece, but with footnotes .
Although it may ring truer to the author’s original manuscript, a book with footnotes is not going to look or read the same as most fictional books which were used to seeing at bookstores.
Robinson says there is a set of rules on how to treat manuscripts. “Dead authors can’t approve manuscripts. You really gotta make sure you don’t mess around with the manuscript.”
As Holden Caulfield would say, “People are always ruining things for you”, but let’s hope that when it comes to Salinger’s new works, that isn’t the case.
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