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Although I see an existentialist thread running through J.D. Salinger's works, Salinger himself seems to be the antithesis of Albert Camus' ideal absurd man and even of Holden Caulfield.

Salinger had immense success with The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey, but he wasn't happy. The literature establishment didn't take him seriously as a writer and leveled pointed criticisms at his work. Salinger grew bitter at the criticism, so bitter that biographers say it drove him into his reclusion in Cornish, New Hampshire.

In short, Salinger eschewed the offerings of modern culture through the characters of Holden Caulfield and Zooey Glass, but became disillusioned and bitter when success within that modern culture didn't yield up happiness.

It was an illogical response given Holden Caulfield's perspective on life (what would a jaundiced teenager like Holden care about the haughty literature establishment?). It was also the exact opposite of what Camus' absurd man would have done. He would have written the novels without regard to what people thought. He would have received the acclaim without self-congratulation. He would have received the criticism without disillusion.

Eric Scheske

Eric Scheske