...not because it's obscene or perverse. But it should be rejected flat out by high-school English professors because it's a lousy book. It's literary garbage that debases rather than celebrates the human condition.
What if every teenager in America who was forced to read a junk novel like Catcher in the Rye, also had to read a truly uplifting modern work like Angels in Iron by Nick Prata?
Which do you think would resonate more with them? How would our country be different today?
I read this book as a 19-year old. I found it to be one of the most uplifting and inspiring works of fiction I had ever read. Reading The Catcher in the Rye was truly a transcendental experience for me. I do not think it is the best book ever written. It has its place among other similar works. I find many of the books which are assigned reading for students much more vapid than Salinger's work.
So you think it should actually be banned just because you didn't particularly like it and feel that there are more uplifting novels? That sounds like a ridiculous reason to ban it. Maybe you could just give it a bad review and move along.
In truth, many teenagers identify with Holden Caulfield, and maybe they need more books with characters with whom they can identify. Sometimes the human condition feels lousy, depending on a person's perspective. Still, that's no reason to ban a book.
if what Florentius says is true, then so should the Bible...to which celebrates the coming of the Apocalypse. "Which do you think would resonate more with them? How would our country be different today?", sorry, but a dumb question. I believe all books have merit but to answer that question here I will take the devil's advocate stance (one I just love to do) "literary garbage that debases rather than celebrates the human condition." that, my friend you just summed up a behemoth amount of literature... Ironic, yes indeed, perhaps strayed to the extreme to show an example of what one reader's opinion is, a Holy Bile.
This book is so widely read and generally beloved for the exact reasons you believe it should be banned. Life isn't always "uplifting" and teenagers desperately need thought provoking literature such as this to relate to. This is modern literature, in every sense of the word. The themes and emotions of The Catcher in the Rye are experienced by teenagers and adults every day in every part of the world, especially now. Perhaps if you ceased ignoring every book that doesn't sugar coat adolescence or "celebrate the human condition," you'd have a more open mind and would stop promoting censorship through your self centered opinions.
Your comment contained a false choice: That a book must either debase or celebrate the human condition. Actually, this book can lead an informed and critical reader to question the human condition, and to critically examine how one individual responds (or fails to respond) to his particular set of challenges and circumstances. I want my children to read what you consider "junk" and to develop the critical thinking skills to determine for themselves what can be learned about the universal search for meaning. What I don't want is for anyone to determine, in advance, what is "uplifting" and what a steady diet of pre-determined "uplifting" material is supposed to do for "our country." Life is bigger than your country (whichever one you're referring to) and how presumptuous of you to even suggest banning a book. Exactly which authority figure would supervise the list of banned books? I suppose that would be you, or someone who you believes shares your mindset. How preposterous!
Catcher in the Rye should remain in schools, and not just because it's a good book. It represents a turning point in American literature because of its use of language. It deserves to be studied. And isn't it great when an assigned book is also a lot of fun to read? I think this book helps hook young people on reading.
Mark Chapman read and re-read this book during 1979 and 1980, until he came to believe the book had been written to express his own life. He identified so strongly with the fictional character of the book, he told his wife he wanted to change his name to Holden Caulfield. He also came to believe that John Lennon was a phony like the people in the book and therefore needed to assassinate John Lennon.
To Stephanie Thiebold: The "themes and emotions" of many classic works from ancient times until today "are experienced by teenagers an adults every day in every part of the world." There are plenty of excellent books that are thought provoking, such as: "Julius Caesar", "Oliver Twist" and ""The Pearl". These can show children the realities of life,whilst giving them rich examples of how to effectively and skilfully communicate ideas so that the reader can enjoy the beauty of language. So what is so special about "Catcher in the Rye?" Is it any better than "The Great Gatsby" or "Lord of the Flies" or "Treasure Island"?
I haven't yet read "Catcher in the Rye" yet (which is why I am reading these comments), but I've read enough books to know that only very exceptional modern literature is good enough for my children to spend their valuable time reading. Your final suggestion that Florentius is narrow-minded and should stop ignoring every book that doesn't "sugar coat adolescence" has done more to put me off reading "Catcher in the Rye" than any other comment I have read. All I know about this book from your comment is that it probably makes life seem horrid and will contribute more that a teenager doesn't need today's intellectual smorgasbord of media and electronic junk food.
Furthermore, reading this book doesn't seem to promote a discerning approach to literature. If your reading of literature is as superficial and reactive as your reading of Florentius' comment, then I would hold your comments on literature up for careful scrutiny. Florentius obviously hasn't ignored this book - or why would he/she be making a comment about it? and the comment suggests that it should be "rejected" - not banned.
Even as far as internet threads go, this is kind of odd: folks suggesting that a fifty-year-old book, one of the first to honestly appraise the slow/exhausting bridge between childhood and adulthood in a respectful and urbane manner, should be banned (yes, banned - that's the title of this thread, posted by Florentius him-/herself) or left unread simply because it might be less than uplifting. Speaking as a former college lecturer in fiction and, currently, an occasional high school tutor who has to teach Catcher about twice a semester, I'd argue that the book's notoriety leads from the two most extreme positions being expressed here - that it troubles people who are already troubled (i.e. Mark David Chapman, your average moody teen) and, alternately, that people take it as a "transcendental" book with a main character who validates their immature/alienated feelings. Perhaps both are true, but they miss the point, that being that this is a work of very thoughtful fiction, one proceeding from the biting American social studies of F. Scott Fitzgerald and concerned with the unsustainable solipsism of adolescence, the use of criticism as a coping mechanism for insecurity, and the importance of growing up and accepting the world's incongruities/imperfections. Every time I'm made to reread the thing - and, believe me, it's often - I'm stunned by how pro-adulthood this book is, how wistful it is about teenage myopia and all its aimless, passionate, antisocial misdirection. Like I said, I tutor it to high schoolers, so I'm aware that it's often taught poorly, with its moral element buried under contextless lessons on Voice and Alienation and Symbols and Metaphors and other lit-by-numbers etcetera. But, like any modern classic, it's not just some collection of writing concepts slapped together, nor is it (as is sometimes suggested) a YA book frosted with curse words and self-involvement; it's more like Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, another finely crafted piece of post-/modern writing whose innovations and charms and lucid philosophy have been clouded by the cultural noise surrounding it. Vonnegut's book, read recently after eight years of college English and creative writing, feels like the best World War II story ever, a jarring treatise on time and coming to terms with life/death shot through comic book sci-fi without sacrificing any of its complexity or humor - it brings Samuel Beckett's wide-eyed absurdism to non-academic readers and casts it as a sad, unchanging state of affairs that only humans have the capacity to overcome. Meanwhile, Catcher's depiction of a boy desperately clinging to innocence as an ideal while reality sputters forward without him still resonates and, frankly, got both me and a raft of others through many a week in high school. And I suspect, thinking about it, that the "transcendental" identification mentioned earlier may have been why, though with a slight revision: it was wonderful to think that, while Holden was stuck in a holding pattern (pun, I'm sure, intended on Salinger's part), I wouldn't be a teenager forever - I had the option of changing myself or, at the very least, being changed by new experiences. I'm not going to speculate on the end of the book or throw out spoilers or anything, but I will say that these expectations for myself were linked to my hopes for Holden, a feeling in which I'm sure I'm not unique. Forgetting all the academic hoopla above, this alone is a solid reason to let fifteen-year-olds dive into the book.
As an actual highschooler, I can say that Catcher in the Rye is an important experience for teenagers. Yes, its a little depressing, but that a sacrifice you have to make sometimes in reading a great piece of fiction. You know what another book some high school students have to read is: Fahrenheit 451. Think about it, he's suggesting banning a book that is a downer. Anyone who's read Fahrenheit 451 should be able to see the humor in this...
"But it should be rejected flat out by high-school English professors because it's a lousy book. It's literary garbage that debases rather than celebrates the human condition."
Don't you think people ought to be allowed to figure that out for themselves, rather than deciding it for them and denying them to opportunity to exercise their independent judgment on the matter? That is, after all, a significant part of the learning process -- discerning valid or worthy ideas from invalid or unworthy ones.
I dont think that Catcher in the rye should be banned. Some parents have complained about the foul laungage, innuendo, sexual references, etc. Foul laungauge is used almost everyday. This is a great book that teaches many lessons to young teanagers. What i dont understand is that almost every movie there is some innapropriate content and its no big deal, but when someone finds out that there is innapropriate content in a book, its a big deal if their kid has to read it. This book is not only a great literary book, but it is a valuable lesson on human emotions. This book is a significant literary achievement and anyone who works this hard on it to teach a lesson should obtain respect.
I would have quit reading this book by about page 10, except the librarian told me it was required for the high schoolers in my town. If you cut out the repetitive sentences, swear words, and ramblings, it becomes a very short story about a kid with undiagnosed ADD. And the ending seems like it's just thrown in because the author had to have an ending. Perhaps it's a lesson to adults to be sure your child's ADD is treated, but I don't see what good kids get out of it-in older parlance, the kid is just a loser. I don't believe in banning books, but assigning this? Harry Potter covers coming-of-age and teenage angst with positive moral direction, and kids love it. Let's leave this one to go out of print as being out of touch with today's world.
I agree with K. Smith. I read Catcher in high school. It sure didn't teach me any lessons, or give me any insight on human emotions, except for an incredible feeling of boredom with Holden and his huge pity party. I had to force myself to finish it, in order to pass a test. Was also force-fed The Bell Jar (and lots of Plath poetry), and The Outsiders by high school teachers. I sort of liked The Outsiders, but it's terribly dated (and was even then -- early '80's). Frankly, I didn't know why books like these were assigned reading in high school. But I wouldn't want to see any book banned -- I just think there are better books to assign to high schoolers.
I rather enjoy The Catcher in the Rye. I read it in high school, but not as a student. It wasn't on the reading list in my English class, but I still enjoyed it. For me, personally, it was very uplifting. The thing about reading is that everyone has different taste and everyone conditions themselves differently. Think of music. In the past when people were feeling depressed, they often listened to Blues music (which was considered highly depressing) but for some reason they felt better. The same could be said of literature. Not everyone who reads the book will come away from it feeling debased by the book. It's rather unlikely that everyone who reads it will.
There is a bit of the writing that can be grating on the nerves (Sallinger used the metaphor: "Like a madman," over and over and over again, not to mention the use of the word goddam got really really repetitive), but I don't think you or anyone can dictate how people will feel when coming away from this book. As a teenager, I felt rather uplifted from this book. I felt pretty good about myself. And if there's one thing most of us can probably agree on, it's that being a teenager sucks. Sometimes people don't read a book to convey human emotion. Then again, some people like to read a book that they can connect with. A book that truly captures what they feel. For some people (teenagers and adults) The Catcher in the Rye probably does that for them.
As for banning a book... I don't think a book should be banned for any reason. Especially for your reason basically coming down to you not really liking it. Again, when it comes to books, people come away from many different books feeling very different.
I also find it hard to believe that just this one book has such a profound effect on the country... especially when the world keeps moving at such a breakneck pace. Not to mention that for every few thousand teenagers who read "The Catcher in the Rye" there are millions more who don't. And think about the adults who can't remember the book. And what of those who don't particularly like it? Who read it, and put it aside either because they didn't like it or because they just didn't take anything away from it? With a book as big and successful as The Catcher in the Rye... one thing we all know is that not everyone will come to like it or enjoy it. For the millions of people who love it, there are also millions who do not.
The point is, while many consider it a literary masterpiece, it's still a book that is meant to be read and enjoyed however the reader sees fit. It is still, by and large, entertainment. I also think that you could probably find many more books (especially in this day and age) that are written far worse and that are far more debasing than The Catcher in the Rye. As much as I enjoy the book, reading the book in the early 2000's, it's easy to see that while I still enjoy it, it's still dated. The sex and alcohol references... has anyone read "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"? That book is filled to the brim with it. Has anyone read Ned Vizzini? How about Jodi Picoult or John Irving or even Stephen King? These are all authors who wrote about teenagers at one point or another (in the case of Vizzini and Picoult they're always revisiting teens) who put these characters in far worse situations than what Holden gets into (in the case of King there is often a lot of death involved). It's not hard to find a Young Adult book that deals with the themes that The Catcher in the Rye deals with. Nor is it too hard to find a book that debases the human emotion.
I personally did NOT resonate with Catcher. I thought the book was bad, and it also pissed me off. The protagonist is always whining/complaining. I did not find it endearing or stimulating. Don't know what all the hype was about :(
to Florentius---How strange that people who are expertly trained, and have studied English lit for years think that "Catcher in the Rye" in a masterpiece....but YOU don't so therefore it should be replaced by what? Some book, I haven't read it so I don't know, but I bet its all "Happy/Happy/Joy/Joy as somebody used to say...in other words, teens should be "protected" against anything "real" or anything that may cause them to THINK.
AND are you really blaming C. in Rye for what is going on in our society in general? Drug use, teen pregnancy....I don't recall any of that being encouraged in C. in the Rye.