J.D. Salinger and unauthorized sequels

J.D. Salinger, who died this week, was not only notoriously private but notoriously protective of his intellectual property rights.   Just last year, he obtained a preliminary injunction against the publication, advertising, or distribution in the U.S. of Sixty Years Later: coming through the rye, an unauthorized sequel to The Catcher in the Rye, by Fredrik Colting, writing under the pseudonym J.D. California.   Under current law, Salinger’s copyrights will not expire until 2080, so Colting’s novel will, perhaps, remain illicit until then.

One of my sabbatical projects (an admittedly self-indulgent one) is to read a series of novels (both in the public domain and under copyright) and their unauthorized sequels/retellings.  I am currently reading Jane Eyre, to be followed by Wide Sargasso Sea.  In honor of J.D. Salinger, though probably to his chagrin, next I will read The Catcher in the Rye and then Sixty Years Later.  I also plan to read King Lear and A Thousand Acres; Pride and Prejudice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Gone With the Wind and The Wind Done Gone; Lolita and Lo’s Diary.   I welcome your suggestions as to other good pairings.

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5 Responses

  1. Kestrel says:

    You should also include in your first grouping Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair which, among other things, “explains” how the ending of Jane Eyre came to be.

  2. Zick Rubin says:

    Several months before Salinger’s death, Holden Caulfield published a guest ReallyLegal column on http://www.zickrubin.com, urging that the injunction against the Colting book be lifted. Caulfield concluded his column:
    “If you really want to know, I’m going to testify for that phony from Sweden and I’m going to sue for custody of my sister Phoebe and I. My father, who is a corporation lawyer and used to haul it in before he got downsized last month, says that is crazy. But I’m going to do it because I would like to read that book before I am goddam 90 years old.”
    The full piece is still posted at http://www.zickrubin.com/resources-column-09-sept.html
    Zick Rubin

  3. Dave Heal says:

    I’m pretty sure Catcher in the Rye will be in the public domain before 2080. It was published in 1951, and work published pre-1978 goes into the public domain (under current law) 95 years after publication, which would mean the copyright will expire in 2046, no?

  4. viva moffat says:

    Right you are, Dave. Thanks for the correction. How embarrassing.

  5. thep says:

    This brief on the Salinger case has a few suggestions, and citations to articles with more suggestions:


    Lo’s Diary, by the way, is an awful book — an unworthy “sequel” if ever there was one.