I hope to counteract this potential danger with a firm grounding in the precise intellectual history surrounding Shakespeare’s romances in early twentieth century Ireland.
While enduringly popular with the American reading public, particularly young people and aspiring writers, the works of J. Salinger have, somewhat perplexingly, failed to generate much in the way of serious scholarship.
This is particularly evident in the exchange between Seymour and Sybil in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” in which the collaborative back-and-forth between the two players leads to the creation of the myth of the bananafish.
A kind of prank Salinger plays on the reader is the couching of his narratives in the authorship of the fictional Buddy Glass and the creation of a Glass superstructure of linked stories.
Two passages seem particularly relevant to this method of analysis: Prospero’s introduction of Caliban, Language is power, not only as a marker of self-expression, but as one of the civilization and, perhaps more importantly, artistry.
It is Prospero’s command of language, much like Mulligan’s, that enables him to continue this twisted master-slave, master-student relationship..
I plan to begin at the beginning—that is, with “Telemachus,” and a seemingly offhand quip by Buck Mulligan: “The rage of Caliban at not seeing his face in a mirror, he said. Joyce introduces Shakespeare’s monster through the gregarious Mulligan, a man whose flashy linguistic and textual fluency overwhelms Stephen’s more cautious persona.
The remark is characteristically intertextual, a rephrasing of Oscar Wilde’s epigraph to , a piece of brief yet incisive commentary on the tension between Realist and avant-garde art: “The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
In the opening section of “Zooey,” Buddy says, “what I’m about to offer isn’t really a short story at all but a sort of prose home movie” ( 47).
Buddy’s proclamation of documentary is complicated by the fact that we know this is fictional story by Salinger and, even within the logic of the Glass family chronicling, it’s clear that Buddy was not there for the events of the story.