As we’ve covered before, some literary memorabilia sell for thousands and thousands of dollars. In one insane instance, a Hogwarts Acceptance letter from the first Harry Potter film sold for $40,000. The Harry Potter franchise isn’t the first to sell items from the films for insane amounts of cash. Everything from wallets to toilets to ashes of beloved stars have sold for immense amounts of money. Here are a list of some of the most obscure literary relics sold at auction.
Harper Lee wrote a letter to her friend Doris Leapard in August of 1990 with content spanning all sorts of topics from social revolution to novels she was enjoying. At the end of the letter, Lee even apologized for the quality of her typewriter. Her lyrical style seen in To Kill A Mockingbird was used to trash Donald Trump and his Taj Mahal-inspired casino in New Jersey. The letter sold for $3,926 at an auction in New York in 2016.
3. Sylvia Plath’s Wallet
Image Via Bonhams
A wallet put up for auction included Sylvia Plath’s ID cards including her Boston Public Library, her Poetry Society of America membership card, driver’s license, social security card, and a small photo of Plath with her mother. The wallet sold for $11,669 March 21, 2018. Along with the wallet, some of Plath’s other belongings were also sold including her fishing rod, articles of clothing, and her drawings.
4. J.D. Salinger’s Toilet
Image Via Writers Write
The beloved Catcher in the Ryeauthor’s toilet was sold on Ebay with a letter from the present homeowner, confirming that the toilet was formerly owned by the reclusive author. The item came “uncleaned and in its original condition”, as stated in the ad. The toilet sold for $1,000,000, not including cleaning fees.
5. X-Ray of Ernest Hemingway’s Foot
The injuries shown in the x-rays Ernest Hemingway would later be detailed in his novel, A Farewell to Arms. The x-ray remains in its original hospital file folder with labels identifying it as his. The lot included the x-ray of his foot, ankle, and knee where a bullet can clearly be seen. The auction ended on December 7, 2016 with the x-rays selling for $15,000.
If one could describe Holden Caulfield in three words, they’d probably be: Angsty, obnoxious, and anti-phony.
The sixteen-year-old protagonist of J.D. Salinger’s iconic and only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, has annoyed, baffled, and offended readers since its release in 1951. His manic antics, obsession with calling out society, and sensitive statements have managed to make The Catcher in the Rye one of the most read novels (and most banned novels) of all-time. While some of his statements are indeed offensive and bizarre, this angsty teen has some pretty on-the-mark views about life.
Here are ten of Holden’s quotes about life that are pretty darn accurate.
1.“People never notice anything.”
2.”Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.”
3.“That’s something that annoys the hell out of me- I mean if somebody says the coffee’s all ready and it isn’t.”
4.”I’m always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to someone I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”
5. “It’s partly true, too, but it isn’t all true. People always think something’s all true.”
6.“That’s the whole trouble. When you’re feeling very depressed, you can’t even think.”
7.“Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”
8.“Lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most.”
9. “People are always ruining things for you”
10. “I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.”
Most of us have grown so accustomed to classical works of novelists being regarded as the epitome of literary excellence that we become unaware of the problematic aspects of these stories. Even the most beautifully written and well-arranged prose can suffer under the bitter scrutiny of critical minds. For these enduring works of literature that have lasted decades or even centuries, their initial response were not always positive.
Here is a collection of some of the harshest and most scathing commentaries well-known authors have received. The titles mentioned are not listed in any particular order.
“Catch-22 has much passion, comic and fervent, but it gasps for want of craft and sensibility… Its author, Joseph Heller, is like a brilliant painter who decides to throw all the ideas in his sketchbooks onto one canvas, relying on their charm and shock to compensate for the lack of design… The book is an emotional hodgepodge; no mood is sustained long enough to register for more than a chapter.” — Richard G. Stern, The New York Times Book Review, 1961
“But the most conspicuous lack, in comparison with the classics of the fearsome-future genre, is the inability to imagine a language to match the changed face of common life. No newspeak. And nothing like the linguistic tour de force of A Clockwork Orange – the brutal melting-down of current English and Slavic words that in itself tells the story of the dread new breed. The writing of The Handmaid’s Tale is undistinguished in a double sense, ordinary if not glaringly so, but also indistinguishable from what one supposes would be Margaret Atwood’s normal way of expressing herself in the circumstances. This is a serious defect, unpardonable maybe for the genre: a future that has no language invented for it lacks a personality. That must be why, collectively, it is powerless to scare.” — Mary McCarthy, The New York Times, February 9, 1986
“At a conservative estimate, one million dollars will be spent by American readers for this book. They will get for their money 34 pages of permanent value. These 34 pages tell of a massacre happening in a little Spanish town in the early days of the Civil War…Mr. Hemingway: please publish the massacre scene separately, and then forget For Whom the Bell Tolls; please leave stories of the Spanish Civil War to Malraux…” — Commonweal, 1940
“This Salinger, he’s a short story guy. And he knows how to write about kids. This book though, it’s too long. Gets kind of monotonous. And he should’ve cut out a lot about these jerks and all that crumby school. They depress me.” — James Stern, The New York Times, 1951
“The short, flat sentences of which the novel is composed convey shock and despair better than an array of facts or effusive mourning. Still, deliberate simplicity is as hazardous as the grand style, and Vonnegut occasionally skids into fatuousness…” — Susan Lardner, The New Yorker, May 17, 1969 Issue
“Lolita then, is undeniably news in the world of books. Unfortunately, it is bad news. There are two equally serious reasons why it isn’t worth any adult reader’s attention. The first is that it is dull, dull, dull in a pretentious, florid and archly fatuous fashion. The second is that it is repulsive…
Past the artistic danger line of madness is another even more fatal. It is where the particular mania is a perversion like Humbert’s. To describe such a perversion with the pervert’s enthusiasm without being disgusting is impossible. If Mr. Nabokov tried to do so he failed.” — Orville Prescott, The New York Times, August 18, 1958
“Ulysses appears to have been written by a perverted lunatic who has made a speciality of the literature of the latrine… I have no stomach for Ulysses… James Joyce is a writer of talent, but in Ulysses he has ruled out all the elementary decencies of life and dwells appreciatively on things that sniggering louts of schoolboys guffaw about. In addition to this stupid glorification of mere filth, the book suffers from being written in the manner of a demented George Meredith. There are whole chapters of it without any punctuation or other guide to what the writer is really getting at. Two-thirds of it is incoherent, and the passages that are plainly written are devoid of wit, displaying only a coarse salacrity [sic] intended for humour.” — Aramis, The Scandal of Ulysses in The Sporting Times, April 1, 1922
“How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.” — Graham’s Lady’s Magazine, July 1848
“We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights.” — Paterson’s Magazine, February 1848
“What may be the moral which the author wishes the reader to deduce from his work, it is difficult to say; and we refrain from assigning any, because to speak honestly, we have discovered none but mere glimpses of hidden morals or secondary meanings. In Wuthering Heights the reader is shocked, disgusted, almost sickened by details of cruelty, inhumanity, and the most diabolical hate and vengeance, and anon come passages of powerful testimony to the supreme power of love—even over demons in the human form. The women in the book are of a strange fiendish-angelic nature, tantalising, and terrible, and the men are indescribable out of the book itself.” — Douglas Jerrold’s Weekly Newspaper, January 15, 1848
“Altogether is seems to us this book is a minor performance. At the moment, its author seems a bit bored and tired and cynical. There is no ebullience here, nor is there any mellowness or profundity. For our part, The Great Gatsby might just as well be called Ten Nights on Long Island.” — Ralph Coghlan, St. Louis Dispatch, April 25, 1925
Despite the dissatisfaction as manifested in the bitter remarks of critics, these classical works survived through generations and earned a highly-esteemed ranking on modern readers’ minds. It is only normal that a piece of prose should elicit mixed responses and sometimes stir dissonance between reviewers and readers. Depending on social and cultural factors, even if certain artistic efforts are not entirely appreciated upon its initial release, they may still have a chance or success and see to the light of day in the future.
J.D. Salinger, a man widely regarded as one of the most striking voices of the twentieth century, died in 2010 after nearly fifty years in seclusion. Fiercely private—often to the point of litigation—the author of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ hadn’t published a single work since his 1965 novella “Hapworth 16, 1924.” Yet 7 years later, a trailer for “Rebel in the Rye”, a film about Salinger’s young adulthood, starring X-Men heartthrob Nicholas Hoult, is circulating around the internet. It’s not hard to imagine Salinger being less than thrilled at the prospect of his tumultuous twenties being translated into mass entertainment. But Salinger was not always so audience-shy.
Image courtesy of notesontheroad.com
Born in 1919 New York City to a comfortable, upper-middle class family, Jerome David Salinger lived the aimless life of a fledgling writer, mailing stories to magazines and dating Eugene O’Neill’s daughter, before Pearl Harbor was bombed and Salinger was drafted into the army. From the age of 23 to the age of 26, Salinger was witness to some of the most horrific scenes of World War II, from the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge to the liberation of Dachau concentration camp. Salinger emerged from the carnage deeply traumatized; after a brief hospitalization for combat stress, he resolved to commit the things he had seen to writing.
Image courtesy of PBS LearningMedia
But Salinger didn’t just start churning out war stories (though one of his most famous works, “For Esme—with Love and Squalor”, is narrated by a troubled soldier). Instead, he devoted his energy to narratives that, on the surface, explored the lives of wealthy or almost-wealthy people like those he grew up with: brothers, parents, children and friends struggling to sort out their lives. One story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” was published in the New Yorker and drew great acclaim. But Salinger was quietly working on a longer piece, revealing his progress only to a few close friends, Eventually published on July 16, 1951, it was called “The Catcher in the Rye.”
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Though it initially received mixed reviews, the simple tale of a depressed young man adrift in New York City quickly became one of the definitive books of the 1950’s, transforming Salinger into something of a celebrity. With literary success came talks of adaptations, and offers streamed in from the likes of Samuel Goldwyn of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Salinger turned them all down. Suspicious of the film industry, the thirty-something author instead suggested thathehimself should play 16-year-old Holden in a stage adaptation of the novel!
To the world’s, (and our) great disappointment, this star turn never panned out. But Salinger held firm to “no Catcher movie” for the rest of his life, eschewing portrayals not only of his most famous work but his very image. After moving from New York to rural New Hampshire in 1953, Salinger grew increasingly reclusive, refraining from interviews and public appearances; his last interview ended disastrously in 1980. Salinger married college student Claire Douglas at 36 and had two children, but the marriage was a turbulent one, with Douglas running away and Salinger pursuing affairs with much younger women. Meanwhile, Salinger went after those who dared to create work about his life and work, suing biographer Ian Hamilton and cutting off all ties to his daughter Margaret after the publication of her family memoir Dream Catcher.
Image courtesy of The Telegraph
Yet even though his public image was thoroughly anti-mass media, at least at one point in time Salinger did accept that his work would probably hit the screen sometime after his death. As he wrote in 1957:
Firstly, it is possible that one day the rights will be sold. Since there’s an ever-looming possibility that I won’t die rich, I toy very seriously with the idea of leaving the unsold rights to my wife and daughter as a kind of insurance policy. It pleasures me no end, though, I might quickly add, to know that I won’t have to see the results of the transaction.
Now, it seems that his prediction is finally coming true. After all, with a biographical film coming soon, a ‘Catcher in the Rye# adaptation can’t be too far behind, right? Of course, the man responsible for it all will never see it. But perhaps that’s just as well.