04/02/2010

THROWBACK THURSDAY - AND NOW HE HAS BECOME SILENCE: JEROME DAVID SALINGER.

He had chosen silence and for 50 years he had stubbornly defended it. He left us last 27th January  at 91 and I want to remember him in my first Throwback Thursday - Good reads from the past after that date.
As I was saying, he had chosen silence but , now, he has become silence. In the last 50 years he lived self-secluded in his house in Cornish, New Hampshire.  Fortunately, his Holden will go on speaking to us, he will go on wondering where all the ducks in Central Park go during winter, when the water in the lake turns to ice...
Last time I heard of Salinger being still alive was on June 3rd 2009, I  read that he was fighting - through his lawyer- to avoid a  John David to go on publishing sequels of his own THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (1951). IT was a post on JANE AUSTEN TODAY.  I then commented : "Salinger still alive? I thought he was gone! I'm happy he can fight for his Holden. I've loved him so much. Now I love to read some "special" pages to my teenage students. Holden's conversation with Phoebe about the catcher in the rye? Poetic prose.
P.S.I've also got special pages from Jane Austen I love to read to them"
I really love those pages from "The Catcher in the Rye", so few days later I posted them HERE.
Do you mind if I propose them once again to remember their just gone author? They are touching. ( The excerpt in my previous post is longer and there I also tried to explain the contextual situation. Anyhow, Holden and his little sister Phoebe are talking about the boy's future job )
 
"I couldn't be a scientist. I'm no good in Science."
"Well, a lawyer - like Daddy and all."
"Lawyers are all right, I guess - but it doesn't appeal to me," I said. "I mean they're are all right if they go around saving innocent fuys' lives all the time, and like that, but you don't do that kind of stuff if you're a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge, and buy cars and drink martinis and look like a hot-shot. And besides. Even if you did go around saving guys's lives and all, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys' lives or you did it because what you really wanted to do was to be a terrific lawyer, with everybody slapping you on the back and congratulating you in court when the goddam trial was over, the reporters and everybody, the way it is in the dirty movies? How would you know you weren't being a phoney? The trouble is, you wouldn't."

I'm not too sure Old Phoebe knew what the hell I was talking about. I mean she's only a little child and all. But she was listening, at least. If somebody at least listens, it's not too bad.

"Daddy's going to kill you. He's going to kill you," she said.

I wasn't listening, though. I was thinking about something else - something crazy. "You know what I'd like to be?" I said. "You know what I'd like to be? I mean if I had my goddam choice?"
"What? Stop swearing".
"You know that song ...'if a body catch a body comin' through the rye'? I'd like -"
"It's 'if a body MEET a body coming through the rye'! " Old Phoebe said "It's a poem. By Robert Burns."
"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns"
She was right, though. It is 'if a body meet a body coming through the rye'. I didn't know it then, though.
"I thought it was 'if a body catch a body' ", I said."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 ede 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 goingI 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. I know it's crazy".


I'd like to close with the same thought I used in June to thank J.D. Salinger for these unforgettable character and words.
I'd love to meet a 16-year-old boy or girl who'd like to be a catcher in the rye or something like that. But more and more of them just want to be "veline" (Italians know! They are sort of not very good, half-naked, female dancers on evening  prime time TV ) or rich footballers. Fortunately I know lots of teenagers since I teach them English, and they're not all that shallow.  I go on reading them this page from Salinger's novel ... Who knows? Maybe few of them might choose to be ... catchers in the rye ... We might need them in this careless world.

P.S. Since I'm Italian and most of you native speakers, could you help me with the right pronunciation of the "g" in Salinger? Is it as in gentleman or in goal? I've heard both but probably one of the two is incorrect.

Thank you for your help in advance!

6 comments:

Luciana said...

For such a long time I planned to read "The Catcher in the Rye"! And I was sure he was already dead, so I was catch by surprise when I heard this. This is still in my TBR list...

Jenny said...

I've never read this but have always wanted to.
I don't know anything about Italian, but I always thought it was pronounced with g as in gentlemen.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Luciana
Thank you for being my most faithful reader, Luciana! And, as I wrote in the post, I was as surprised as you last summer, when I discovered he was alive. Hope you'll like his Holden Caufield.
@Jenny
Hi, Jenny! As you see, I like this idea of yours very much. Thanks for helping me with the "G" in Salinger. I've always pronounced it as in gentleman but , for example, my Italian colleagues or the reporters on the TV news ... I always hear them say it the other way, that is, with a G-sound as in goal. I just wanted to know how an American would pronounce the name of this American writer. Thanks again.

JaneGS said...

Soft g as in gentlemen--never heard Salinger pronounced any other way.

Lovely, rich, interesting post. You do good work, reading Salinger (and Austen) to teenagers. I know a lot too, since my kids are that age, and I am hopeful for the future. Of course, I'm also watching American Idol with them, and the teens/young adults who want so desperately to be a starlet make me a little sad, but now I'm starting to sound old and stodgy.

I have still never read Catcher in the Rye--maybe this year...

I love the picture of the boy in the field--perfect.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Jane GS
Thank you Jane! Now I'm sure I pronounce it correctly. I've heard it pronounced the other way by other Italians, of course. Now, since two native speakers ( you and Jenny) told me I'm sure I was right. English is a foreign language to me!

Judy said...

I agree, definitely g for gentleman. I love 'Catcher in the Rye' and also his short story collection 'Nine Stories', published in the UK as 'For Esme with Love and Squalor'.