'The Catcher in the Rye' is Published

The Catcher in the Rye introduces Holden Caulfield, who ranks with Huckleberry Finn among the most celebrated adolescent heroes in American literary history.

Indeed, the book is a pleasure to read: verbally witty, sardonic, ironic, sometimes sad and poignant, and insightful of young adults and the dilemmas sensitive people face in modern society. The sustained tone and characterization are a fine literary achievement, and the encounters of an adolescent boy unable to adapt to 1950s metropolitan New York upper-class society, commercial business, and exclusive schools occasionally provide uproarious humor. A memorable book with a memorable hero, The Catcher in the Rye is of major importance to post-World War II American history as well as to young adult readers.

The Catcher in the Rye has been listed as one of the best novels of the 20th century. For The New York Times, James Stern wrote a negative review of the book, while Nash K. Burger called it "an unusually brilliant novel". George H. W. Bush called it "a marvelous book," listing it among the books that have inspired him. In June 2009, the BBC's Finlo Rohrer wrote that, 58 years since publication, the book is still regarded "as the defining work on what it is like to be a teenager. Holden is at various times disaffected, disgruntled, alienated, isolated, directionless, and sarcastic." Adam Gopnik considers it one of the "three perfect books" in American literature, along with Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby, and believes that "no book has ever captured a city better than Catcher in the Rye captured New York in the forties".

Not all reception was positive, however. The book has had a share of critics. Rohrer writes that "Many of these readers are disappointed that the novel fails to meet the expectations generated by the mystique it is shrouded in. J. D. Salinger has done his part to enhance this mystique. That is to say, he has done nothing." Rohrer assessed the reasons behind both the popularity and criticism of the book, saying that it "captures existential teenage angst" and has a "complex central character" and "accessible conversational style"; while at the same time some readers may dislike the "use of 1940s New York vernacular", "self-obsessed central character" and "too much whining".