A rare signed copy of J.D. Salinger’s groundbreaking novel, The Catcher in the Rye is going up for auction.
One of the most banned books in the ’60s, The Catcher in the Rye is an iconic literary classic. A must-read for disenfranchised youth, hell, for anyone that is remotely interested in stepping out of the status quo, questioning authority or outdated traditions. And for parents, well, it could also teach parents and teachers a thing or two about communication, and treating children like equals.
Between 1960 and 1982, it was the most censored book in American schools and libraries. Back in the day, it was considered inappropriate for school-age kids to read, lest they got some crazy ideas stuck in their heads about independent thought. It also carries quite a few profanities.
Salinger was extremely private, in other words, a hard man to pin down, and was quite steadfast in his wishes to not have his friends and family members cash in on his signed novels while he was alive. He was well known for resenting such transactions, and as a result, the first signed edition of The Catcher in the Rye was sold at auction only after his death, in 2010.
What makes this particular copy so pricey is its inscription, signed with his childhood nickname, “Sonny”. As inscribed by the author to family friends on the front free endpaper, “To Charles Kirtz with every good wish from JD Salinger (extra greetings to Ada and Victor from Sonny Salinger) New York 10/18/56.”
This copy is being sold by Peter Harrington Books as part of Firsts: London’s Rare Book Fair, which runs at the Saatchi Gallery from September 15-18. The auction house describes it as one of the hardest titles to acquire in 20th-century American fiction.
Pom Harrington, the owner of Peter Harrington Books, said: “It is perhaps the most elusive prize in 20th-century literature. Auction records show only one appearance of an inscribed first edition – owning an inscribed copy would be the high spot of any serious modern American literature collection. The reasons for this owe much to J.D. Salinger’s notorious elusiveness. Salinger was extremely private and shunned publicity in any form, particularly the use of any biographical material to promote his work.”
Harrington added: “This copy was one of two inscribed first editions that Salinger gave to Ann Agoos, inscribed to her grandsons Charles and William. Ann, whose bookplate is on the front pastedown, and her husband, Sam, lived in the same apartment house as Salinger’s parents, at 1182, Park Avenue, New York City.”
Salinger was a childhood friend of their children – the mother of the recipient of this book, Ada, and her brother Victor, are also referenced in the inscription.