Copyright Law as Book Ban

A judge in New York today ruled that Fredrik Colting cannot publish his book, 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, in the US, in part because it “contains a 76-year-old version of Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of ‘The Catcher in the Rye.'” The judge noted:

Both narratives are told from the first-person point of view of a sarcastic, often uncouth protagonist who relies heavily on slang, euphemisms and colloquialisms, makes constant digression and asides, refers to readers in the second person, constantly assures the reader that he is being honest and that he is giving them the truth

Michael Madison has rounded up legal perspectives. It sets up an interesting tension between the opinions in Stallone v. Anderson and the Wind Done Gone case.

Salinger has alienated many potential fans with the lawsuit. Apparently his young protagonist is also not exactly a darling of the youth set anymore:

Teachers say young readers just don’t like Holden as much as they used to. What once seemed like courageous truth-telling now strikes many of them as “weird,” “whiny” and “immature.” . . . Barbara Feinberg, an expert on children’s literature who has observed numerous class discussions of “Catcher,” pointed to a story about a Holden-loving loser in the Onion headlined “Search for Self Called Off After 38 Years.”

“Holden is somewhat a victim of the current trend in applying ever more mechanistic approaches to understanding human behavior,” Ms. Feinberg wrote in an e-mail message. “Compared to the early 1950s, there is not as much room for the adolescent search, for intuition, for empathy, for the mystery of the unconscious and the deliverance made possible through talking to another person.” Ms. Feinberg recalled one 15-year-old boy from Long Island who told her: “Oh, we all hated Holden in my class. We just wanted to tell him, ‘Shut up and take your Prozac.’ ”

And don’t forget the Adderall and Ritalin! Seriously, though, Mr. Salinger might want to take a chill pill and let others imagine futures for the characters he’s created.

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