07 de junio de 2020
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Hispanic World

NY library opens exhibit on reclusive author J.D. Salinger

By Jorge Fuentelsaz

By Jorge Fuentelsaz

New York, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- Photographs, notebooks, mementoes of childhood and correspondence with friends and writers like Ernest Hemingway are some of the items belonging to author J.D. Salinger (1919-2010), a jealous guardian of his own privacy, that the New York Public Library will exhibit for the first time on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

In a small room in the corner of the iconic library, on 5th Avenue, an attentive group of library officials carefully watch visitors to make sure that no more than 20 people enter the exhibit at a time and that they are not carrying bags or purses and do not use mobile telephones - to take photos, for instance - while they enjoy a glimpse into the private life of the famously reclusive author.

Salinger's 1951 novel "The Catcher in the Rye," considered to be one of the most influential works in American literature, was the big splash of his career but starting in 1953 he lived a very private life in Cornish, New Hampshire, far from the spotlight and the hoopla that often surrounds artistic success.

That book has sold more than 55 million copies in 30 languages and is an iconic depiction of teenage alienation and loss of innocence. Even today, it is required reading in high schools across the country.

Jerome David Salinger, the son of a Jewish businessman from Poland, had an obsession with privacy that moved him to order the suppression of photos in editions of his books and even to get a court to order that an Internet page devoted to him be taken down.

He told Judge Pierre N. Leval during court proceedings to try - without success - to prevent the publication of an unauthorized biography by Ian Hamilton that although he was an author with a certain amount of renown, for personal reasons he had decided to completely forsake public attention.

He said during the same court proceedings that any biography written about him would be an "invasion of (his) privacy."

Nevertheless, from now until Jan. 19, 2020, the library will be allowing the public to peek in through a small window to view heretofore largely private details of Salinger's life, displaying objects never before seen by the public but made available by his family.

Among the items on display is a photo of the writer of "Nine Stories" and "Franny and Zooey" seated in a field in front of a typewriter.

Salinger was drafted into the US Army during World War II, serving with the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. and seeing combat at Utah Beach on D-Day, in the Battle of the Bulge and in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest.

It was during his military service in Europe that he met Hemingway, describing his meetings with the author as the "only minutes of hope" he experienced during the war.

In the exhibition, in fact, there is a letter from Hemingway in which he praises three of Salinger's stories and saying "You are a damned good writer, and I will look forward to everything you write."

The exhibit was organized in cooperation with Salinger's son Matt and his widow Colleen, who shared with the writer the last years of his life in New Hampshire.

There is also much relating to "The Catcher in the Rye" in the exhibit, including a copy of the first edition illustrated by Michael Mitchell, with a very nice photo of the author, and the original copy of the work just as it was sent to the publisher.

There are also several pipes the author used until he quit smoking in the early 1970s, small yellow pencils with which he underlined the books he read and his Royal typewriter, on which he probably typed many of his works, along with his correspondence.

There is also a 16 mm film projector, Salinger being a real movie lover, although he never allowed any of his works to be adapted for the silver screen.

He was also a passionate reader of mystic and religious texts from many different belief systems - including Sufism, Chinese philosophy, Taoism, Judaism and Christianity - as the revolving bookcase he kept in his bedroom shows.

Saliger also kept a small collection of articles and photocopies, as well as notebooks of ideas and writing, some of which are on display, that he called "Vade mecum," Latin for "Walk with me" or "Go with me."

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