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    Salinger archive of letters to a childhood friend and ally "in the general war against the Adults"

    J. D. Salinger Archive of Six Letters, totaling seven pages with additional material. A delightful collection of surprisingly sweet and nostalgic letters from J. D. Salinger to his childhood friend, Ines Aschard Warner, with whom he spent many happy days in the town of Long Beach on New York's Long Island in the 1920s. The five letters to Ines and the one letter to her daughter Lois span the years 1961 to 1997, and all are signed with his childhood nickname, "Sonny."

    The very first letter dated January 23, 1961 begins: "Dear Ines, Swell to hear from you. You sound like Ines still, under all that furniture of adulthood," and it continues wistfully with "[o]ld and affectionate memories of you, Ines. Probably parts of us are still sitting in the Long Beach movie, watching the Saturday installment of 'The Green Archer.'"

    Throughout this collection, Salinger returns time and again to his happy memories of Long Beach, often with great enthusiasm: "I can picture all of us so clearly as we once were, the whole cast of characters - especially in the Long Beach setting. . . . I do remember that guy who threw me in the Castle pool, and I've still got him on my list, boy. . . . I think Long Beach in the 1920's must have had the best, whitest, hottest beach anywhere."

    Ines seems to have held an almost magical place in Salinger's memories of childhood, a symbol, perhaps, of the happy and carefree time before he became an international literary sensation and began to withdraw from the crush of celebrity he never seemed to want. In a letter to Ines' thirteen-year old daughter Lois, he writes: "Your mother and I were really good friends when we were children. No fighting, no bickering. No tattling on each other. Really good friends and allies in the general war against the Adults." He recounts a story of how he got lost trying to find Ines' house when he was seven, ending the memory with "I reminisce no further. Childhood is never very far away though."

    Salinger brings things back to the present when he responds to Lois' appreciation of The Catcher in the Rye: "A good many gray things happen to writers, among which is the rather deadly reality of being on somebody's required reading list, but I'm glad you read the novel 'several times' anyway - your mother says so - and I hope it was mostly a pleasure." He signs this charming letter "J. D. Salinger / 'Sonny' if you prefer."

    The last letter in this collection, dated July 12, 1997, is Salinger's lighthearted (but firm) reasoning on why he cannot fulfill Ines' request of a signed book: "I can't just flatly and without some explanation decline to sign a book for an old Green Archer fan - that is, I prefer not to leave it willynilly to the imagination or trust, as I do with people I don't know at all, that I have to hold to some principle about books. I honestly don't know any good reason to deface the inside cover of a book, and it's all too easy for a sourball like me to think of a lot of reasons I think not good at all." He closes by warmly apologizing for "this unnice, flippant letter."

    The letters, though chatty and upbeat for the most part, have the occasional melancholy musing on the inevitability of growing older: "Some of us who got through childhood more or less intact have had considerable practise [sic] surviving. . . . Ageing, on the whole, isn't a positive riot of fun."

    But always, Sonny returns to the happy childhood days he and Ines spent together. Included with these letters is an original photograph of Salinger from this time, holding a miniature baseball bat and smiling broadly. On the back of the photo is written "Sonny wanted you to have this," likely written by Salinger's mother. This is the period of his life that Salinger continued to recall with such fondness all the rest of his life.

    Included with the letters are a Christian Science tract and a somewhat carelessly typed copy of a page from a biography of Isaac Newton which Salinger thought Ines might enjoy reading as much as he had. These are accompanied by four warmly informal letters to Ines from Salinger's parents, Miriam and Sol, who were close family friends and who seem to have been as enamored with Ines as Sonny was.

    An incredible collection of correspondence from one of modern literature's towering figures. Often portrayed as a prickly and aloof recluse, these letters offer to the reader another side of J. D. Salinger - that of a warm and even playful man whose nostalgia for his childhood seems to have been a life-long source of pleasure and comfort.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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