Salinger, J.D.: Signed letter written by J.D. Salinger to Carrol Roderick
Salinger, J.D.: Signed letter written by J.D. Salinger to Carrol Roderick
Salinger, J.D. (1919-2010)
Letter written by J.D. Salinger to Carrol Roderick, 14 May 1966
J.D. Salinger. (1919–2010). Enigmatic American author of the iconic novel Catcher in the Rye. TLS. (‘J.D. Salinger’). 2½pp. 4to. (8.5 x 11 inches). [Hamilton, Bermuda], May 14, 1966. To Carrol Roderick of Hampshire England.
DOCK STRIKE IN THIRD DAY
MRS. BROWNE-EVANS CALLS FOR DEMOCRACY
FLATTS BRIDGE OPEN
BANK OF BERMUDA BUILDING A MERE SHELL
SIX DECREES NISI GRANTED IN COURT
NEW FIRE HOUSE TO BE READY BY 1984
NO RAIN IN SIGHT
PARLIAMENT UNHAPPY – PARTICULARLY MRS. BROWNE-EVANS
BURNABY STREET NOISIER THAN EVER
UNNECESSARY TO BLOW ON HANDS WHILE TYPING
If the London Times can print news on the front page, I might be permitted headlines at the top the letter. So how you are? Well and happy I hope.
Yes, Byers is in Bermuda. I came down for the purpose of writing you a letter. I find that here I have enough time to do so, and this is such a newsy spot. Winds of change and all that.
The beginning of this week I got back from a three weeks progress to: Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Los Angeles, Alburquerque [sic], Chicago, and New York. I made a lot of friends for the Company.
Thursday Mother and I came down on my delayed Christmas present holiday present to her. The weather is not but bearable. I of course told Mart it was too cold. The visiting parrot is still visiting and performed nicely for us last evening. Last evening we had a Canadian and an English lady to dinner. They asked me to justify American policy in Vietnam and were rather shocked when I told them this I could not do because our VN policy stinks. I fear they were greatly disappointed.
1. Dock Strike: According to the Bermuda Industrial Union, there is no dock strike. It is a simple case of men refusing to go to work. As you know, a strike does not involve refusal to work (This is Bermuda, remember?). Since the British seamen go on strike Monday, and since the Flower (Baltimore) boats are on re-fit, whether or not there is a non-strike makes little difference except that it gives people something to talk about.
2. Mrs. Brown-Evans: Yesterday the HA debated a motion to upgrade twenty-three civil servants less they defect to private industry. Mrs. BE approach showed that her feet remain firmly planted in mid-air. In her view (?), the problem involves the inexcusable inefficiency of the civil service which, in turn, is due to the complete ineptness of the average MCP. She did hold out a ray of hope: When we get democracy the people will elect good MCPs and all the problems will go away. She was particularly incensed about the upgrading of an English raod [sic] supervisor (road). A road supervisor does nothing but stand around and watch other people work, she said. And, she added, ‘Mudians can do THAT just as well as the English.
3. FLATTS BRIDGE: Yes, indeedee. It are open! Two years of carefull [sic] work have borne fruit. They plan to remove the construction debree [sic] by 1968.
4. BERMUDA BANK: This is the one at Alboy’s Point. I gather the internal structure was wood and such construction has a limited life here. The exterior is quite lovely and they seem to intend to preserve it. The building has no innards at the moment but will in 1978 1/8.
COURT: Very dull Friday. Divorce, you know.
6. NEW FIRE HOUSE: They have one hell of a hole in the ground at Church and Parliament Streets. But something about unexpected sand in the hole have held the whole thing up and new contractors are to be brought in. Judging from the size of the hold, they must expect a whale of a fire.
7. RAIN: Second only to the dock strike as the main topic of conversation. But, I will admit, they have a new gripe. True, the water refinery is in operation but this water is too pricy and the carting firms spill half of it. I can remember in the days before civilization they would have been unspeakably grateful for a refinery.
8. PARLIAMENT UNHAPPY: Put in its simplest terms this means that Mrs. B-E is unhappy with Parliament, and Parliament is unhappy with Mrs. B-E. What ever happened to Baby Jane,,,, [sic] Barbara Ball I mean.
9. BURNABY NOISE: Consists of vehicles, local rowdies and construction, as you know. As an added attraction, the building next store left its new giant air conditioning plant on all night Thursday which caused the whole south side of the house inmates to lose a nights sleep.
10. BLOWING ON HANDS: It is not absolutely necessary to blow on your hands in May to limber up the fingers for typing.
I think that about does it for this six-penny edition. If something happens before we leave I will report it back to you. It alone remains for me to remind you of your lack of patriotism in not being in manufacturing employment. It is said that we have the government we deserve. It would appear that the British and Americans have been very naughty indeed to have the governments they currently have.
The above paragraph is a model of unclearness. I was referring to your new Selective Employment Tax.
In the 1940s. Salinger had just started seeing the publication of his short stories when he was drafted into the Army and shipped off to Europe. He served with distinction during World War II while simultaneously continuing to pursue a writing career. While in Europe, he sought out Ernest Hemingway whose writing he admired and with whom he maintained a correspondence. He also managed to get his stories published in Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post while serving abroad.
He continued to publish short stories until releasing the 1951 novel that would change his life, The Catcher in the Rye. The main character was Holden Caufield a troubled teenager and protagonist of his short story ‘Slight Rebellion off Madison’, which had been published in The New Yorker in 1946. The first person narration of the resonated with the readers of 1951 and continues to be wildly popular, having sold more than 65 million copies since its first appearance. The work is routinely listed among the most influential books of the 20th century.
Although, Catcher in the Rye brought Salinger the literary success he had long desired, he grew increasingly uncomfortable with the fame that came with it. In 1953, he moved from New York City to rural New Hampshire. For a time, he continued to publish: Franny and Zooey in 1961, Raise the Roof Beam, Carpenters and and Seymour: An Introduction in 1963, and, in 1965, his last published work, ‘Hapworth 16, 1924’.
Thereafter, he retreated from public view, actively avoiding the spotlight. During the remaining four decades of his life he became famous for his attempts to stop would-be biographers including British literary critic Ian Hamilton and his former lover Joyce Maynard.
Our letter was written to a trip to Bermuda with his mother Marie “Miriam” née Jillich.
Although the U.S. had been sending support to Vietnam since 1955, it was not until 1965 that American troops officially entered the conflict. By 1966, American involvement had already become controversial around the world. Our letter reveals Salinger’s anti-war sentiments.
This chatty and humorously written missive goes on to discuss at length current events in Bermuda, including the completion of Flatt’s Bridge which crosses Flatt’s Inlet at Flatt’s village and Lois Marie Browne-Evans (1927-2007), Bermuda’s first female barrister and first black women elected to the House of Assembly. In 1963, she was elected to Parliament, eventually becoming the first female Leader of the Opposition in the Commonwealth. An outspoken member of the Progressive Labour Party she often courted controversy. In his critical report of Browne-Evans’ interaction with Parliament, Salinger invokes the 1962 psychological thriller Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
In September 1966, Britain’s Selective Employment Tax went into effect, taxing workers in the service sector while subsidizing employment in manufacturing, prompting Salinger’s tongue-in-cheek remark about the recipient’s lack of patriotism for not working in manufacturing. Implemented by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the tax was short-lived.
The Byers mentioned in our letter is perhaps bandleader and concert promoter Verne Byers (1918-2008). Famous for bringing the Beatles to Denver in 1964, Byers led a number of big band orchestras including Verne Byers & His Bermuda Brass.
Salinger’s mention of divorce is notable because of his own marital problems. In September of 1966, just four months after writing our letter, his wife, Claire, filed a petition for divorce after years of discord. The divorce was granted the following year.
Since his 2010 death, interest in Salinger has only increased. New York’s Morgan Library and Museum has mounted several exhibitions of his letters. A 2013 documentary film simply entitled Salinger and an accompanying book made news by revealing that previously unknown works by Salinger will soon be published.
Letters of Salinger are rare and highly sought after. Folded with staple holes and some paper loss in the upper left corner, affecting no text. In very good condition.