Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye , written in the form of a 28,word letter from a seven-year-old child at summer camp. No one could know it at the time, but this story was to mark one of the longest and most fascinating silences in literary history. Shortly after the story appeared, Salinger retreated into his reclusive rural New Hampshire home, and never published anything again in his lifetime. One of the most common criticisms leveled against the Glass stories was that Salinger was writing them purely for himself, at the price of alienating his readers.
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See also: J. Salinger — In Memoriam For many Salinger fans, securing a copy of Hapworth 16, will at first seem an exceptional boon. The book will be purchased on impulse, eagerly opened on a bus or in a nearby coffeehouse—and, despite its unusual brevity for a book, probably never finished. Lest we doubt that seven-year-olds typically write 20, word letters, we quickly recall that this is the same Seymour Glass who entered college at 16, earned his Ph. He is characterized as eccentric, intelligent, and perhaps too fond of children, but we hear nothing of his superlative spiritual powers, nor of the Glass family as such.
In neither Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters which depicts his wedding day nor Seymour: An Introduction a formless hagiography by Buddy is Seymour treated as a character in any traditional sense: i.
The device of the letter gives Salinger carte blanche to address his readership without the onus of producing action, dialogue, or characterization. Hapworth represents a complete abnegation of authorial responsibility and effort. But what does Seymour write about at such length? In affected, adjective-heavy Salingerese, Seymour describes his lust for Mrs. Note: This review was written from a re-reading of the old New Yorker story; as of this writing, the book has not appeared.
“Hapworth 16, 1924” Revisited
This too, has a meaning. It testifies our ability to transcend the innate inclination to judge things based solely on the dictates of so called teluric reason. Seymour is merely a person, he is a ghost. This letter seems to give a lot of speculations towards the way he is still haunting the Glass family after his death as he did when being alive. The idea that a seven year old kid would write this letter home to his family from camp ruins the narrative before it can even begin to develop out of its embryonic state. Furthermore, the writing is dilapidated and stale; just steeped with unbelievable haughtiness. Salinger has no focus here, other than Salinger at his most aimless and Sisyphean.
Hapworth Revisited: On J.D. Salinger’s Most Inscrutable Short Story
Surely sixty to eighty per cent of the time, to my eternal amusement and sorrow, that magnificent, elusive, comical lad is engaged elsewhere! As you must know in your hearts and bowels, we miss you all like sheer hell. Unfortunately, I am far from above hoping the case is vice versa. This is a matter of quite a little humorous despair to me, though not so humorous. It is entirely disgusting to be forever achieving little actions of the heart or body and then taking recourse to reaction. My God, let me achieve missing my beloved family without yearning that they miss me in return! It requires a less wishy-washy character than the one available to me.
Hapworth 16, 1924 (J.D. Salinger)
Buddy has just received a registered mail from his mother, Bessie. Opening it, he discovered a letter written by Seymour to his family back in The letter is addressed from the infirmary of Camp Simon Hapworth, Maine, where Seymour and Buddy spent the summer when they were seven and five. It is an extremely long letter and a mass of contradictions that display Seymour embroiled in a kind of tug-of-war between spiritual maturity and the confines of his earthly young age.