J.D. Salinger alert: 28 letters come to the Morgan

Starting Friday, Holden-heads can catch a glimpse of never-before-seen correspondence penned by the legendary scribe.

J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger

It isn’t further adventures of the Glass family, alas, but we Salinger fans will take what we can get. Earlier this week, the Morgan Library & Museum acquired 28 letters written by the famously reclusive author between the years of 1967 and 2006. The recipients: two different spiritual leaders, one at the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York, the other at a Vedanta Hindu temple on the Upper East Side.

Salinger took a deep interest in Eastern religion and philosophy for most of his life, and fostered a decades-long correspondence with Swami Nikhilananda and his successor, Swami Adiswarananda, during the author’s long exile from the public eye. The sect had such an influence on the writer that he name-checked 19th-century Vedanta luminary Swami Vivekananda in short story the “Hapworth 16, 1924.” Here are the words he put into the mouth of seven-year-old Seymour Glass on the subject:

“He is one of the most exciting, original, and best equipped giants of this century I have ever run into; my personal sympathy for him will never be outgrown or exhausted as long as I live, mark my words; I would easily give ten years of my life, possibly more, if I could have shaken his hand or at least said a brisk, respectful hello to him on some busy street in Calcutta or elsewhere.”

For those interested in seeing the author's handwriting in the ink, two of the letters will be on display at the Morgan for one week starting Friday (Apr 12–19). For context, stop by at 7:30pm tomorrow for a free lecture on “J.D. Salinger & Vedanta,” with Kenneth Slawenski, the author of J.D. Salinger: A Life. (Call 212-685-0008, ext 560, or e-mail tickets@themorgan.org for reservations.)