Leading article: Rye smile

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The Independent Online

We shall never see his like again. In fact, we never saw much of him anyway. But the death of J D Salinger is, nevertheless, a sad moment for literature.

Salinger's great legacy will, of course, be The Catcher in the Rye, the tale of a rebellious and lonely teenager who has been expelled from school for his poor grades. The book was set in a distant era, a post-Second World War New York. But the voice of its cynical narrator, Holden Caulfield, still leaps from the page with an extraordinary modern vitality. That is why Salinger is still enjoyed today, by readers of all ages.

Indeed, that is the supreme irony of Salinger's life: this writer who went to such lengths to shun publicity ended up speaking to so many people; and in a voice which cut effortlessly across the generations. If there is an opposite quality to "phony", Salinger's writing surely encapsulated it.