J. D. Salinger’s Creations Were Lovable Even When He Wasn’t

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The author's beguiling characters are sometimes hard to reconcile with his persona.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE H ow do you solve a problem like J. D. Salinger?

Born a century ago this year, the author of The Catcher in the Rye (1951) and Franny and Zooey (1961) was a man of considerable contradictions. Let us begin with some bare facts: One of two children born to Sol and Marie Salinger, Salinger had a young adulthood, though free of major catastrophes, that was sufficiently unsettled to result in his being enrolled in Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. After the completion of a term in the army during World War II — a source of significant trauma, according to

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Peter Tonguette — Mr. Tonguette writes about the arts for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, The American Conservative, and other publications.

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