Read the very first reviews of The Catcher in the Rye.

Read the very first reviews of The Catcher in the Rye.

Seventy-two years ago this week, The Catcher in the Rye first hit bookshelves across the US, and people still have some pretty strong opinions J. D. Salinger's groundbreaking debut. Die-hard fans and rabid haters are legion. Indeed, of all the mid-century American novels to stand the test of time, perhaps only On the Road provokes a comparably polarizing response among contemporary readers. Many argue that Catcher remains the quintessential of teenage angst and alienation, as resonant and formative a text for today's youth as it was in the 1950s; while no small amount of others, still pissed at being forced to write 11th grade English papers on the motivations of its, em, singular protagonist, resent the book's exalted status as a foundation text in the modern American canon and staple of high school syllabi countrywide. Love it or hate it, though, The Catcher in the Rye has endured (it still sells about a million copies a year, bringing its grand total to somewhere in the region of 75 million), and we felt that this auspicious publication anniversary merited some manner of retrospective. So, here it is: a load of phonies from The New York Times , TIME, The New Yorker , and elsewhere about their impressions of Holden Caulfield and his New York odyssey way back in 1951. * “I was surrounded by phonies…They were coming in the goddam window.” “This girl Helga, she kills me. She reads just about everything I bring into the house, and a lot of crumby stuff besides. She's crazy about kids. I mean stories about kids. But Hel, she says there's hardly a writer alive can write about children. Only these English guys Richard Hughes and Walter de la Mare, she says. The rest is all corny. It depresses her. That's another thing. She can sniff a corny guy or a phony book quick as a dog smells a rat. This phoniness, it gives old Hel a pain if you want to know the truth. That's why she came hollering to me one day, her hair falling over her face […]

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