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Lot 225

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J. D. Salinger 3 Great Items with Writing Content, One Signed in Full

J. D. SALINGER, two Typed Letters to Rose-Ellen Currie, April 1953-January 1954. 3 pp. + 1 envelope.

Salinger reassures the young author that it is impossible to lose characters whom she loves. He is likely reflecting on his early passion for Holden Caulfield, who later became the central character of The Catcher in the Rye and one of the most important characters in twentieth-century American literature.

Highlights and Excerpts
-J. D. Salinger, Typed Letter Signed, to Rose-Ellen Currie, April 18, 1953, Windsor, Vermont. 1 p. + envelope, 8.5" x 11". Expected folds; very good; envelope torn on opening.
“I’m not sure that I’m not best left as a pink light, but I do thank you for that exceptionally nice letter. So generous and thoughtful. I’m very glad to have it. Who is our mutual friend? I don’t seem to know who any of my friends are any more.”

-J. D. Salinger, Typed Letter Signed in Type “Charles of the Ritz,” to Rose-Ellen Currie, January 15, [1954?], Windsor, Vermont. 2 pp., 8.5" x 11". Expected folds; tears on center folds on both sheets.

“That typically fecal, editorial note from the Junior Expatriate in Paris, Glenway Wescott Division, irritates hell out of me, and I hope he does you, too. He’s a pustule-abroad type I know so well, a champion of Colette, a sweetheart of Skull and Bones and Coceau, and if you take seriously anything he has to say, you may as well go bury yourself in a grave of old Harper’s Bazaars. Your stories are not imitative of the Person he mentioned. Not one bit.... I’ll tell you what I think, though. Both stories reek of talent. I promise you I wouldn’t say that to you if I didn’t mean it.”

“Both these stories are loaded – I mean that – with Rose-Ellen flashes and treats, and I mind your spending them (spending them now) on the people in these stories. I mind your struggling with the sheer mechanics of handling highly stylized characters – so early, I mean. Eventually you’ll have to go back to these people – I see that, I see that – but at least while you’re waiting, wouldn’t it be good to get one naked Rose-Ellen book over and done with? Monica and Heather Loewenstein will wait for you very patiently. I promise you you’ll overtake them sooner or later, or they’ll overtake you. I know from experience how impossible it is to lose the people you fell in love with in your twenties.... Enough said. If not too much. In my own way – of no consolation whatever to you – I’m pleased as hell with both these stories.”

The character Holden Caulfield was the protagonist of one of Salinger’s first stories written in 1941 and appeared in another in 1945. He told Ernest Hemingway in 1946 that he was working on a play about Caulfield, and of course Caulfield was the central character of The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951.

J. D. Salinger (1919-2010) was born in Manhattan into a Jewish family, though his mother was a convert. He graduated from the Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania in 1936 and attended New York University for part of a year. He studied the meat-importing business in Poland and Austria, but left just a month before Nazi Germany annexed Austria. Returning to the United States, he briefly attended Ursinus College and Columbia University. He published his first short story in the magazine Story in 1940. He began submitting short stories to The New Yorker, which rejected most, but accepted “Slight Rebellion off Madison” about a disaffected teenager named Holden Caulfield. However, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor left the story “unpublished,” and it did not appear until 1946. Salinger was drafted in 1942 and saw combat in Europe on D-Day, and at the Battle of the Bulge and other battles. He later served in counter-intelligence in the interrogation of prisoners and in Denazification duty in Germany for six months after the war ended. In 1948, he published “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” which received critical acclaim and earned him a contract with The New Yorker for future work. A 1949 film adaptation of one of his short stories failed, and Salinger never permitted film adaptations to be made from his stories. He published his most famous work, The Catcher in the Rye, in 1951, about protagonist Holden Caulfield’s experiences in New York City after his expulsion from a college preparatory school. Although it was widely taught in schools, other schools banned it for its use of swear words and coarse language. Salinger became an adherent of Hinduism in 1952 and gradually withdrew from public view, publishing only a few stories for the rest of the decade. In the early 1960s, he published two volumes of short stories previously published in The New Yorker. His last published work appeared in 1965. For the next forty-five years, he lived a reclusive life in New Hampshire.

Rose-Ellen Currie (1930-2012) was born in New York, the daughter of an electrician and his Scottish wife. In the late 1950s, she wrote and published several short stories, including at least one in The New Yorker. Around the same time, she left the manuscript of her first novel in a taxi and never recovered it. She worked as a copywriter and vice president for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency for twenty-four years. Currie published her only novel, Available Light, in 1986, and a collection of short stories, Moses Supposes, in 1994.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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