Read “Slight Rebellion Off Madison,” J.D. Salinger’s First Story in The New Yorker & Early Holden Caulfield Story (1946)

eartly salinger story“Slight Rebel­lion Off Madi­son” — The first sto­ry J.D. Salinger ever pub­lished in The New York­er was also a sto­ry that intro­duced read­ers to his most famous char­ac­ter, Hold­en Caulfield, long before the pub­li­ca­tion of The Catch­er in the Rye. Accord­ing to Paul Alexan­der’s biog­ra­phy of Salinger, the edi­tors of The New York­er accept­ed “Slight Rebel­lion Off Madi­son” back in 1941, but delayed pub­lish­ing it when the US entered World War II. The time just did­n’t feel right for a sto­ry about jad­ed, cyn­i­cal youth. Even­tu­al­ly the war end­ed and the sto­ry appeared in the mag­a­zine on Decem­ber 21, 1946. The Catch­er in the Rye came out five years lat­er, in July, 1951.

In the sto­ry, Hold­en Caulfield, “on vaca­tion from Pencey Prepara­to­ry School for Boys,” meets up in New York City with Sal­ly Hayes, also on vaca­tion from prep school, and togeth­er they go to the movies, smoke in the lob­by, drink, com­plain about the tedi­um of school, dream of leav­ing the big city for Ver­mont, and maybe get­ting mar­ried one day. Oth­er char­ac­ters who lat­er appear in Salinger’s gen­er­a­tion-defin­ing nov­el — for exam­ple, Carl Luce — also make appear­ances too.

You can read “Slight Rebel­lion Off Madi­son” in the New York­er archive. Click here to see a fac­sim­i­le of how the sto­ry orig­i­nal­ly appeared in the mag­a­zine. When you click through, please click on the image/page to zoom into the text.

Note: Anoth­er sto­ry sto­ry fea­tur­ing Hold­en Caulfield — “I’m Crazy” — appeared in the Decem­ber, 22 1945 edi­tion of Col­lier’s. It starts here and ends here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

J.D. Salinger, Out for a Stroll: Reclu­sive Author of The Catch­er in the Rye Caught on Film

Hold­en Caulfield in NYC: An Inter­ac­tive Map

The New Yorker’s Fic­tion Pod­cast: Where Great Writ­ers Read Sto­ries by Great Writ­ers

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