"All I’m doing is trying to protect myself and my work"
October 9, 2023 7:34 AM   Subscribe

When these endeavors, some of which resulted in unauthorized adaptations of both his books and his own persona, came to light, occasionally exploding into unprecedented legal battles, the ever-resisting Salinger was regarded sort of as a cantankerous ghost of an author—a once welcome houseguest rattling dusty chains at the unassuming newcomers he thought were messing around with things he left behind .... Yet his belief that total ownership is not relinquished with public publication, as well as his radical enforcement of copyright law and reliance on the right to privacy, revolutionized the role of the “author” in modern culture, and consequently helped preserve both his identity and his works as masterful and mythic American originals. from Phonies: J.D. Salinger and Wielding Copyright as Self-Protection
posted by chavenet (6 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The quoted N.Y. Post headline in the story should be "GOTCHA, CATCHER!" not GOTCHA CATHER.
posted by beagle at 8:52 AM on October 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure why it's crickets down here, but I'm just stopping back to say I thought this was an interesting article, with some good insights into Salinger's lifelong wish for privacy. (It could have done with a little better copy-editing, but that's my particular bias.) Not mentioned in this story is the apparent plan of his executors to start publishing some of his work in the course of the next decade.
posted by beagle at 1:57 PM on October 9, 2023 [3 favorites]

I am always torn as a reader as to whether or not unpublished works should be published. On the one hand one sometimes wants to read everything the writer wrote, but on the other, perhaps they didn’t seek publication of that work for a reason. I guess if you know you are part of the cannon you are obligated to burn anything you don’t want published prior to your death.
posted by oldnumberseven at 7:17 PM on October 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

I read the article - thank you chavenet. Salinger seems (seemed)...odd. Trying to reconcile his desire to have people read his words, with his desire to not be "known."
posted by davidmsc at 8:34 PM on October 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

Copyright protections can stop a work from being copied, pirated, poached. They can’t stop it from being misunderstood.

Good article. Salinger is not that high on my list of authors I think about, anymore, but this reframes a lot of what I thought I understood about him.

He had it a bit rough - he managed to get himself into a crazy situation, whereas if he had just Pynchoned or, simply wrote under a pen name, much of his troubles would never have arisen.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:52 PM on October 9, 2023 [2 favorites]

Trying to reconcile his desire to have people read his words, with his desire to not be "known."

But as a way of reaching people, novels are highly controlled, careful constructions (and it's clear that control mattered a lot to him). They are not a relinquishing of privacy or really a way to be personally "known", even if they involve some exposure of the self.

Although he was at an extreme, I think it's quite common for writers to feel uncomfortable with the parasocial aspects of being published. It may be that writing appeals precisely because they can reach a person without having to be present. It may be that they publish to be paid and they wouldn't otherwise share what they write at all. I'm more struck by writers who relish the limelight - not because there's anything wrong with that, but because it isn't obviously compatible with the more solitary, introspective pleasures of writing.
posted by Ballad of Peckham Rye at 2:19 AM on October 10, 2023 [4 favorites]

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