J. D. Salinger? Wilhelm Stekel? Otto Ludwig? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: “The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger is a popular work embodying adolescent angst and confusion. During one scene a teacher of the protagonist Holden Caulfield gives him a remarkable quotation ascribed to a psychoanalyst named Wilhelm Stekel. Has anyone attempted to trace this quotation?
Quote Investigator: The provenance of the quotation remained mysterious for decades. In 2013 retired Professor of English Peter G. Beidler published “The Sources of the Stekel Quotation in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye” in “ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews”. 1 Beidler found a match for the quotation written in German by the dramatist and novelist Otto Ludwig. Many years after the statement was crafted, the Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Stekel quoted the words while crediting Ludwig. Salinger’s novel contained a rephrased instance of Ludwig’s statement credited to Stekel.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 2013, ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews, Volume 26, Issue 2: Twentieth-Century American Literature, Article: The Sources of the Stekel Quotation in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Author: Peter G. Beidler, Start Page 71, End Page 75, Publisher: Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group. (Accessed online at tandfonline.com) link ↩