The book “The Catcher in the Rye” was written by J. D. Salinger and published in 1951. The novel has become a classic with over 64 million copies sold to date. Even today, 250 thousand copies are sold each year and it has been translated into all major languages. Walk into any decent bookstore, and you will likely find a copy of this book.
One reason for the book’s popularity over the years is that the main character Holden Caulfield is one that most teenagers can identify with. Holden Caulfield is portrayed as a cynical and rebellious youth and in many ways, can be seen as increasingly relevant in today’s cultural climate and teenagers grow up in and even more complex social environment. Many of the themes in the novel such as alienation of adolescents have therefore remained timeless.
Making the Time Magazine list of the 100 best English-language novels in 2005, it has won many other awards. Despite its popularity, the book has been banned by some countries due to the excessive use of profanity and sexuality.
The title of The Catcher In The Rye is explained in the novel and actually refers to Holden Caulfield himself.
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around–nobody big, I mean–except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff–I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going. I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”
Illustrating J. D. Salinger’s brilliance, the title of the novel represents the main theme of the book, it being Holden’s deep desire to preserve our childhood innocence that gets hopelessly lost as we grow up in our crazy and phony world of adulthood, full of deceit, corruption and superficial social values. The title of the book is also a reference to the Robert Burns poem, ‘Comin’ Thro the Rye’.
Since The Catcher In The Rye was published, its author has remained a recluse and largely hidden from the public eye. Salinger died of natural causes on January 27, 2010, at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire. Jerome David Salinger was born on New Year’s Day, 1919 in Manhattan, New York.
Since J. D. Salinger’s death, many rumors have been circulating about the making of a movie based on The Catcher In The Rye. Salinger has been opposed to this proposal since the release of the novel, and it will now depend on who obtains rights to the book.