“People think one thing is true to the core.”
Can an American novel excite and involve an Italian reader after more than sixty years? If it’s a masterpiece, yes! A modern classic of world literature.
Get ready to read the story of a boy, a young teenager, to enter his head, with his language and his way of coding and reading the world. Get ready to immerse yourself in his thoughts, to filter everything through his clear and complex gaze and then disgust the entire outside world which incredibly doesn’t understand him.
The reader’s position is therefore very privileged: Salinger gives us ample access to the world of a tormented teenager who is not at all easy to understand: kicked out of school, few aspirations and few ideals, if not that of escaping, forgetting everyone and being forgotten by everyone. What teenager has never thought of doing this? A boy who hates everyone and the next second he doesn’t; who spasmodically searches for a friendship among his peers who seem to be either too disgusting or too intellectual: no one equal to the desperate Holden. And we readers are there a little listening to him, a little trying to console him, and a little also worried, and we often find ourselves agreeing with his vision of the world – admit it!
The writer’s style is an exceptional whirlwind that makes us go up and down the protagonist’s thoughts, but never confuses; the reader can always trace the thread of the conversation without ever getting lost, even when the rhythm of the nation and of Holden’s thoughts and fears becomes harsh and pressing.
The tone of the narration is the real specialty: one moment you laugh at Holden’s antics and the next you will be almost heartbroken by the truth that he has just revealed to you – without thinking too much.
Although the book represents one of the most classic examples of bildungsroman novels, in which the transition to adulthood is vividly represented, we recommend reading it at different stages of life, to rediscover and retrace new truths: all valid.
The young Holden with his story – which is nothing more than a three-day clipping – will keep you glued to the end or, as often happens to a portion of readers, even after the last page you will continue to think of the old Holden Caulfield.
Jerome David Salinger, Il giovane Holden, Einaudi, Torino, 2014
Original edition: The Catcher in the Rye, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1951