The Catcher in the Rye


Who: Written by JD Salinger.

What: A seminal novel.

Where: Set in Pencey Prep, Pennsylvania, later New York.

Why: Explores themes of identity, adolescence, ‘phoniness’, loneliness and others.

When: Published July 16th, 1951.

“I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It’s partly true, too, but it isn’t all true. People always think something’s all true”

The Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age novel published in 1951. Often voted as one of the best novels of the 20th Century, it has suffered a fair amount of censorship for its use of profanity and sexuality; in the 1960s and 1970s, if was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States. It follows Holden Caulfield, his expulsion from the privileged Pencey Prep school in Pennsylvania and his subsequent wander around New York City. There are various themes and motifs, largely focused around Holden and his emotions and thoughts, his sexuality and beliefs on relationships and intimacy, lying and dishonesty (or ‘phoniness’), loneliness and maturity. Although it is portrayed as a coming-of-age novel, it is notable in that Holden never matures. The book has sold more than 65 million copies worldwilde, and has been translated into nearly all the world’s major languages.

Further reading:

First edition cover.


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