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With his landmark novel Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger was an influential 20th-century American writer.
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Born on January 1, 1919, in New York City, J.D. Salinger was a literary giant despite his slim body of work and reclusive lifestyle. His landmark novel, The Catcher in the Rye, set a new course for literature in post-WWII America and vaulted Salinger to the heights of literary fame. In 1953, Salinger moved from NYC and led a secluded life, only publishing one new story before his death.
Writer. Born January 1, 1919 in New York City, New York, Jerome David Salinger, despite his slim body of work and reclusive lifestyle, was one of the more influential 2Oth century American writers. His landmark novel, Cather in the Rye, set a new course for literature in post World War II America and his short stories, many of which appeared in The New Yorker, inspired the early careers of writers such as Phillip Roth, John Updike, and Harold Brodkey.
Salinger was the youngest of two children and only boy born to Sol Salinger, the son of a rabbi who ran a thriving cheese and ham import business, and his Scottish born wife Miriam. At a time when mixed marriages of this sort were looked at with disdain from all corners of society, Miriam's non-Jewish background was so well hidden that it was only after his bar mitzvah at the age of 14 that Salinger learned of his mother's roots.
Despite his apparent intelligence, Salinger, or Sonny as he was known as child, wasn't much of a student and after flunking out of the McBurney School near his home in New York's Upper West Side, was shipped off by his parents to Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
After graduating Valle Forge, Salinger returned to home for what proved to be only a year stay at New York University before heading off to Europe, flush with some cash and encouragement from his father to learn another language and bone up on the import business. But Salinger, who spent the bulk of his five months overseas in Vienna, paid closer attention to language than business.
Upon returning home, he made another attempt at college, this time at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, before coming back to New York and taking night classes at Columbia University. There, Salinger met a professor, Whit Burnett, who would change his life.
Burnett wasn't just a good teacher, he was also the editor of Story magazine, an influential publication that showcased short stories. Burnett, sensing Salinger's talent as a writer, pushed him to write and soon Salinger's work was appearing not just in Story, but in other big-name publications such as Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post.
His career had started to take off, but then, like so many young American men around this time, World War II interrupted his life. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor attack, Salinger was drafted into the army, which he served with from 1942-1944. His short military career saw him land at Utah Beach in France during the Normandy Invasion and be a part of the action at the Battle of the Bulge.
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