Catcher in the Rye: The Sequel (or why JD Salinger is heading for the courts)

Hermit author sues to block publication of novel about Holden Caulfield in a nursing home

Scholars and admirers of JD Salinger can be reassured that although he still resolutely refuses to show his face in public – let alone add a new title to his long-stalled oeuvre – he is still alive and alert. Or at least his lawyers are, as demonstrated by a certain lawsuit freshly filed in New York this week.

Regrettably, 90-year-old Salinger himself was not in court but presumably in hiding in his New Hampshire home when his representatives delivered the suit demanding an injunction to block the publication of an unauthorised sequel to the ever-venerated Catcher in the Rye, the 1951 novel that made it fashionable for adolescent boys to wrap themselves for years in existential angst.

How good or awful the unwanted tribute is we may never know, but the signs are not altogether promising. It is entitled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye and apparently aims to reacquaint readers with Holden Caulfield, the young man Salinger conjured in the original.

Caulfield is no longer a fretful teenager running from prep school, but a fretful septuagenarian fleeing a retirement home. Better yet, or worse, the perpetrator, who, we learn, lives near Gothenburg in Sweden and writes under the appropriately cheeky pen name of JD California, even goes to the trouble of giving Salinger a part in the disputed book, agonising over whether he should be relaunching the story of Caulfield or not.

But our man in Sweden was mistaken if he thought the hermit of New Hampshire would find his stunt either amusing or flattering. He should have remembered that in recent decades only court litigation has been enough to flush the novelist back into the open, although never, of course, in person.

"The sequel is not a parody and it does not comment upon or criticise the original," the lawsuit bluntly contends. "It is a rip-off, pure and simple." The court papers go on to say that Salinger remains "fiercely protective of his intellectual property". It points out, moreover, that he has turned down the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Steven Spielberg when they sought permission to put Caulfield on the silver screen.

Named as defendants in the case are Mr California himself, a firm called Windupbird Publishing that is apparently based in London, as well as a Swedish publisher Nicotext and SDB Distributors of California. The suit seeks damages as well as action to prevent the book – due to be published in Britain this summer and in the US in September – ever seeing the light of day.

The papers additionally assert that while Salinger, who holds the exclusive copyright to the 1951 original, which has so far sold 65 million copies, could have at any time agreed that it be filmed, staged or otherwise adapted, he has "decidedly chosen not to exercise that right".

Salinger has not published an original work since 1965 and has not granted an interview since the 1980s. But if his editors have been left idle, his lawyers have not. In 1982, he sued a man who was apparently attempting to sell a fictitious interview with him. Five years later he moved to prevent publication of an unauthorised biography by Ian Hamilton because it included quotes from unpublished letters. That book did at least come out, but in revised form, in 1988. Then in 2003, he blocked a stage version of Rye by the BBC.

Contacted by the Associated Press in Sweden, Mr California – he declined to offer his real name – said he considered the legal action against him a "little bit insane" asserting that while Salinger may have control of his characters he does not of his style or perspective. "To me, this is a story about an old man. It's a love story, a story about an author and his character," he explained.

Not everyone is convinced that Salinger is on strong legal ground. A few years ago the estate of Margaret Mitchell launched a similar lawsuit to block a so-called sequel to her classic Gone With The Wind that was called The Wind Done Gone and written from the perspective of a slave on Scarlett O'Hara's plantation. The suit did not work and the book was published even though its publishers did agree to pay an unspecified sum by way of settlement to the Mitchell estate.

" Catcher in the Ryle is a touchstone. It is published. It is no longer wholly and only the author's," contended Vickie Karp yesterday, an arts writer for the Huffington Post.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Market Administrator (1st line Support, Bloomberg, Broker)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Administrator (1st line Support, Trade Fl...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Server, Reuters)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Se...

Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, Exchange)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, E...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition