Fringe at the Forefront: J. D. Salinger, The New Yorker, and the Sensation of Convention

By Daniel Maseda

Salinger
Salinger in 1950; photo Lotte Jacobi, courtesy of Wikipedia

 

Nestled between advertisements for the chic Canadian Château Frontenac, the 1947 Paul Brown Sporting Calendar from Brooks Brothers, two separate waterfront Miami vacation destinations, and distinguished liquors and wines, J. D. Salinger’s short story “Slight Rebellion Off Madison” appeared in the December 21, 1946 issue of The New Yorker. [1] Portraying the anxious attempts of a teenage preparatory school student to escape with his sweetheart from the restricting world of the New York City to the open land of the north, this piece was the first in a long line of Salinger’s short works to be published in the revered and widely circulated magazine. Salinger would go on to publish stories in The New Yorker with increasing frequency in the years that followed, as acclaim and approval for his work grew rapidly among audiences and editors alike. By the end of the decade, his work would become a staple of the magazine, to the extent that Salinger and The New Yorker were indicative of each other even in name. Though he had published sixteen stories in other magazines before the publication of “Slight Rebellion,” it was his relationship with The New Yorker that ultimately catalyzed his emergence in the literary mainstream and positioned him at the forefront of contemporary American fiction in the midcentury post-war era. Just as critics specifically recognized Salinger as “a New Yorker writer,” The New Yorker was his platform.[2]

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