J.D. Salinger might have tried his best to be a reclusive author, but that has never stopped the world at large from developing an endless fascination with him — his work, his personality, the minutiae of his days. This morning, news broke of a new set of letters from the writer, recently acquired by NYC’s Morgan Library & Museum. Though these letters are not available yet to the public, plenty are, and they’re filled with the daily mundanities and sharp insights that flesh out Jerry Salinger: the man. Check out a few fascinating passages from Salinger’s varied correspondence below.
From a series of letters to Marjorie Sheard:
His bravado/insecurity is on full display: “Let’s have no more talk of my New Yorker piece [the very first Holden Caulfield story]. God and Harold Ross alone know what that bunch of pixies on the staff are doing with my poor script.”
On a currently unknown story called “Henry Jesus,” which he said comes “straight from the belly”: “It will doubtless tear the country’s heart out, and return the thing a new and far richer organ… (I’ll probably fail completely with it.)”
After requesting her photo: “Sneaky girl. You’re pretty.” What an awkward flirt!
Perhaps that was part of the reason he was shifty about his relationships: “I was supposed to get married on furlough,” he wrote in 1942 “but she wanted it all said and done at her Daddy’s house in Hollywood. So I picked up where I left off with an old typewriter.” However, according to the Times, Salinger’s biographer “said he could not be certain if this was a veiled reference to Salinger’s relationship with Oona O’Neill, the daughter of the playwright Eugene O’Neill, or to some other matrimonial near miss. Though Salinger and Oona O’Neill dated briefly in the early 1940s, Mr. Slawenski said she did not return his affection and broke his heart when she married Charlie Chaplin. It is more likely, he said, that Salinger was puffing himself up to Ms. Sheard while privately nursing his romantic wounds.”
[via The New York Times]