ALSSalinger, J.D. Famous American Author. Very rare Autograph letter signed, entirely in the hand of the reclusive author. 2 pages on letterhead of the "Writer's Manor Hotel" in Denver, CO. Dated "Nov. 18, 1972." To Olga Pastuchiv Clow, a long-time friend, regarding the death of her husband. In black marker, signed "Jerry."
American Author J.D. Salinger, famous for his coming of age novel, The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his compilation Franny and Zooey, writes a heart-rending letter to a recently widowed friend, Olga, about her husband Howard's "deep love" for her. Olga was a former paramour of the reclusive writer, however, they remained friends long after severing romantic ties, and in fact it seems that after Olga married, Salinger became good friends with her husband as well. He writes in this letter, "I learned so much from Howard, and valued his friendship more than I can say. I never knew a kinder or better or wiser man." Though from another person's pen these words might appear the expected tidings transmitted upon a bereavement, Salinger did not easily disperse praise unless it was heartfelt, and for the reclusive author, that was a rare occasion.
This letter shows a rare side of Salinger, who had been known to comment both in his writing and personally regarding his belief in the inevitable corruption of love relationships and marriage, beliefs forged from his two failed marriages and unhappy upbringing. He comments here on an apparently shining contrast to his assumptions on how the rest of the world functioned in love and marriage, "I never once heard Howard speak of you without deep love and humor and respect in his voice, and I guess you must know and feel sure that he loved the life you lived together and wouldn't have exchanged it for any other. How many wives, widows, can feel even half so sure their husbands loved their lot in life?" Salinger's published writing, most notably Catcher, echo with themes of authenticity in battle with falsity; specifically false social behavior, false relationships, and unworthy ambitions he associated with adult life. In contrast, the young people who were so often the central figures of Salinger's work injected sparkling authenticity, shadowed with tragedy as they would inevitably not stay young or retain their truth in the corrupt adult world. Families were a particularly poignant arena for his characters to battle out their insidious internal dramas. It is interesting to note that the feelings which informed Salinger's writing are unchanged as of the date of this letter. As he writes, "How many wives, widows, can feel even half so sure their husbands loved their lot in life?" he clearly sees Olga's happy marriage as a fortunate aberration rather than a reason to reevaluate to a more optimistic outlook. It also reveals in the nuances of his phrasing, "can feel even half so sure their husbands loved…" that the author does not entirely believe two people can ever fully know one another.
An emotionally powerful letter, with rare content from the reclusive author on love. Also rare for being written entirely in Salinger's hand, and signed "Jerry."