In Search of J. D. Salinger, A Biography

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9780394534688: In Search of J. D. Salinger, A Biography

Ian Hamilton wrote two books on J. D. Salinger. Only one, this one, was published. The first, called "J. D. Salinger: A Writing Life", despite undergoing many changes to accommodate Salinger was still victim of a legal ban. Salinger objected to the use of his letters, in the end to any use of them. The first book had to be shelved. With great enterprise and determination however, Ian Hamilton set to and wrote this book which is more, much more, than an emasculated version of the first. For someone whose guarding of his privacy became so fanatical it is perhaps surprising how much Ian Hamilton was able to disinter about his earlier life. Until Salinger retreated completely into his bolt-hole outside Cornish in New Hampshire many aspects of his life, though it required assiduousness on the biographer's part, could be pieced together. A surprising portrait emerges; although there were early signs of renunciation, there were moments when his behavior could almost be described as gregarious. The trail Hamilton follows is fascinating, and the story almost has the lineaments of a detective mystery with the denouement suitably being played out in Court. 'As highly readable and as literate an account of Salinger's work from a biographical perspective as we are likely to receive' - "The Listener". 'A sophisticated exploration of Salinger's life and writing and a sustained debate about the nature of literary biography, its ethical legitimacy, its aesthetic relevance to a serious reading of a writer's books' - Jonathan Raban, "Observer". 'Hamilton's book is as devious, as compelling, and in a covert way, as violent, as a story by Chandler' - Victoria Glendinning, "The Times".

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About the Author:

Ian Hamilton was born in 1938, in King's Lynn, Norfolk, and educated at Darlington Grammar School and Keble College, Oxford. In 1962, he founded the influential poetry magazine, the Review, and he was later editor of the New Review. He also wrote biographies and journalism, mainly about literature and football. He died in 2001.

From Publishers Weekly:

This embattled biography has been revised because of the legal suit Salinger instituted to stop publication, and the most valuable part of the book is Hamilton's proud and indignant exposition of those long proceedings, torturous to him and endangering, he feels, to Constitutional freedoms. At issue were Salinger's unpublished letters, and Hamilton is rightly disturbed by the fact that, in covering the case, newspapers and magazines were able to print the very correspondence he was restricted from using. He wonders: "Can we assume that the letters have been released into the public domain, that they are no longer 'unpublished' ? Would the Random House lawyers now let me put them back into my book?" The answer is no, and in its spelling out of Salinger's "writing life" (even in his original version, Hamilton only chronicled that life up to 1965, when Salinger stopped publishing), the biography is a dry, adequate chronology of publication dates and landmark events that lacks passion and driveperhaps the natural result of recounting a life so obsessively removed from engagement with the world. Within the text, Hamilton refers to himself and his biographer "alter ego" as "we," an affectation that distracts the reader.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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