SALINGER, Jerome D. (1919-2010). An archive of 14 typed and 1 autograph letters signed ("J," "Jerry," and "JDS") to Robin Biffle, most from Windsor, Vermont, 1975-81.
Together 36 pages, most 280 x 215mm (three smaller at 126 x 181mm); all with transmittal envelopes.
"The only theater I've ever really cared about or wanted to write for is the little one inside the private reader's head." – 12 November 1975
An important unpublished correspondence, replete with discussions of Salinger's work and full of biographical detail. The letters cover his qualms over dramatic adaptation and writing for the stage, his unpublished work, the ultimate conflict between creativity and public life, the Glass family that appears throughout his short fiction, his creative philosophy, his writing schedule, and more, together with many other topics, including film and music (Ingmar Bergman and jazz), astrology ("I spent a lot of time, years ago, reading and digging in Far-Eastern medical lore, in which the positions of the planets and such play quite a part"), the nature of love, his grandparents and his children, nutrition and alternative medicine, and the challenges of being away from home ("I can't go this long away from my fiction. Miss my work"; "Relieved no end to find my papers intact, my paranoiac safes unbroken into"). The recipient, Robin Biffle, a young student with a radio show, initially contacts Salinger about the prospect of adapting one of his books, eliciting a lengthy denunciation of literary adaptation: "I do my best, really, to write for the same kind of reader (good or bad) that I am myself – somebody, in brief, who demands painstaking page-writing, and with no middlemen coming between writer and reader. I don't feel that staging or screening is what's best for my fictional characters..."
The letters offer insight into Salinger's reclusive life. On 24 March 1977 he discusses the change in his writing schedule over the years. While he used to work "after midnight" to avoid missing out on "something possibly terrific or unspeakably romantic," now he "must, but must, drift directly towards the typewriter when I wake up in the morning, and stay there without interruptions, no meals, no mail, till I run dry for the day…" The following month, while mentioning new work, he emphasizes the importance of privacy: "I've been writing longhand in bed, some parts of a poem intended for S. Glass's papers. Sometimes I wish I felt free to publish at least some of this, but really very much of it is good, but really good, and would plunge or shove me into a different kind of limelight than I've ever survived before..." He mentions the Glass family more than once; writing again in April 1977 he discusses a story in the context of Eastern religion and "writing at such length about family stuff." "As I think you'll see one day, I had to, and did, go into this subject at some pretty fair length in one of the Glass scripts, yet unpublished. I don't know that I can deal with the subject competently at all, but if I stand any chance whatever, it would be only, solely, while I'm rather unselfconsciously writing fiction, lost, steeped, in fiction. It is a terribly unsimple subject."
While the correspondence is not really romantic in nature, the topic of love arises more than once. Salinger replies in one letter, "I do have a heart, yes, but it's my muddy introspective nature to suspect it's a fiction-writer's heart..." (24 March 1977). The correspondence draws to a close in 1981 after Biffle marries and has a daughter, and Salinger leaves her with an avuncular vote of confidence: "Well, you're a pretty tough and adroit little runner and mother and lover and grand-daughter, and I'd put my money on you." His last letter speaks to his interest in alternative medicine and encloses a copy of John W. Armstrong's The Water of Life: A Treatise on Urine Therapy (London: True Health Publishing, 1957). Provenance: Robin Biffle.