When Salinger returned to New York in 1946 he quickly set about resuming his life as awriter and soon found his work published in his favorite magazine, The New Yorker. Healso continued to push on with the work on his novel. Finally, in 1951 The Catcher in theRye was published.The book earned its share of positive reviews, but some critics werent so kind. A fewsaw Caulfield and his quest for something pure in an otherwise "phony" world aspromoting immoral views. He seemed unhinged, possibly crazy.Not surprisingly, Catcher vaulted Salinger to a level of unrivaled literary fame.
HIS CAREER HAD STARTED TO TAKE OFF, BUT THEN, LIKE SO MANY YOUNG AMERICAN MEN AROUND THIS TIME, WORLD WAR IIINTERRUPTED HIS LIFE. FOLLOWING THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR ATTACK, SALINGER WAS DRAFTED INTO THE ARMY, WHICHHE SERVED WITH FROM 1942-1944. HIS SHORT MILITARY CAREER SAW HIM LAND AT UTAH BEACH IN FRANCE DURING THENORMANDY INVASION AND BE A PART OF THE ACTION AT THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE.DURING THIS TIME, HOWEVER, SALINGER CONTINUED TO WRITE, ASSEMBLING CHAPTERS FOR A NEW NOVEL WHOSE MAINCHARACTER WAS A DEEPLY UNSATISFIED YOUNG MAN NAMED HOLDEN CAULFIELD.SALINGER, HOWEVER, DID NOT ESCAPE THE WAR WITHOUT SOME TRAUMA AND WHEN IT ENDED, HE WAS HOSPITALIZED AFTERSUFFERING A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. THE DETAILS ABOUT SALINGERS STAY ARE SHROUDED IN SOME MYSTERY, BUT WHAT ISCLEAR IS THAT WHILE UNDERGOING CARE HE MET A WOMAN NAMED SYLVIA, A GERMAN AND POSSIBLY A FORMER NAZI. THETWO MARRIED BUT THEIR UNION WAS A SHORT ONE, JUST EIGHT MONTHS. HE MARRIED A SECOND TIME IN 1955 TO CLAIREDOUGLAS, THE DAUGHTER OF A HIGH PROFILE BRITISH ART CRITIC, ROBERT LANGDON DOUGLAS. THE COUPLE WERE TOGETHERFOR A LITTLE MORE THAN A DECADE AND HAD TWO CHILDREN TOGETHER, MARGARET AND MATTHEW.
Despite Salingers best efforts, not all of his life remainedprivate. In 1966, Claire Douglas sued for divorce, reportingthat if the relationship continued it "would seriously inure herhealth and endanger her reason."Six years later Salinger found himself in another relationship,this time with a college freshman named Joyce Maynard,whose story, "An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life" hadappeared in The New York Times Magazine and caught theinterest of the older writer.The two lived together in Cornish for 10 months beforeSalinger kicked her out. In 1998 Maynard wrote about hertime with Salinger in a salacious memoir that painted acontrolling and obsessive portrait of her former lover. A yearlater, Maynard auctioned off a series of letters Salinger hadwritten her while they were still together. The letters fetched$156,500. The buyer, a computer programmer, later returnedthem to Salinger as a gift.In 2000, Salingers daughter Margaret wrote an equallynegative account of her father that like Maynards earlierbook was met with mixed reviews.For Salinger other relationships followed his affair withMaynard. For some time he dated the actress Ellen Joyce.Later he married a young nurse named Colleen ONeill. Thetwo were married up until his death on January 27, 2010 athis home in Cornish.
Despite the lack of published work over the last four decades of his life, Salingercontinued to write. Those who knew him said he worked everyday and speculation swirlsabout the amount of work that he may have finished. One estimate claims that there maybe as many as 10 finished novels locked away in his house.