Salinger, J. D.: Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour--An Introduction
(researched by Alyssa Landers)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Co., 1963. Originally published as two seperate stories in "The New Yorker." "Raise High The Roofbeam, Carpenters" published in 1955 and "Seymour: An Introduction" was published in 1959.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

Published in paper

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

pp. 3-248 are numbered. There are six pages before the first "numbered" page (3) that are unnumbered as well as pp. 249-252 that are unnumbered. There are approximately 24 words per page and the type appears to be about 10-point.

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?


6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?


7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The general appearance is very good. The text is very readable and the inclusion of the title on the top of each page is nice. The font used on the front and back covers (of the cover jacket) as well as the title page looks like calligraphy and adds to its overall "classy" appearance.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

This book was printed on unwatermarked off-white paper that is relatively thin though it seems strong enough to have survived without being harmed in any way. The pages are cut smoothly.

11 Description of binding(s)

The pages are bound together by stiching. The covers are a blue-grey color. The cover jacket is an off-white color while the spine is a mustard-yellow color. On the spine is written the full title, author, and publisher. Raise|High|The|Roof|Beam,|Carpenters|and|Seymour|an|Introduction| J.D.|Salinger|Little, Brown| Everything is written in a "calligraphy" font.

12 Transcription of title page

Raise High|the Roof Beam,|Carpenters|and|Seymour|an Introduction| J.D. Salinger|Boston Toronto|Little Brown Co.|

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

I could not locate this JD Salinger manuscript.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

The first state of the first printing omits the dedication leaf, but it was included into copies of the second state. The dedication reads: If there is an amateur reader still| left in the world- or anybody who| jut reads and runs- I ask him or| her, with untellable affection and| gratitude, to split the dedication of| this book four ways with my wife| and children.|

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Penguin published an edition in both 1964 and 1994. Bantam Books published a copy in 1965.

6 Last date in print?

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

According to Hackett, approximately 100,000 copies were sold in 1963.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

A full page ad appeared in The New York Times Book Review on April 7, 1963 on page 7. The ad showed a pyramid of RAISE HIGH THE ROOFBEAMS, CARPENTER AND SEYMOUR:AN INTRODUCTION all first edition copies. Another full page ad appeared in the January 7, 1963 edition of Publisher's Weekly on page 19. This advertisement showed one first edition copy of the book and a "bubble" below giving the price, $4.00 and the date of issue, Jan. 28.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A


13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A

Both "Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenter" and "Seymour: An Introduction" appeared in The New Yorker. Published in 1955 and 1959 respectively.

15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

Franny and Zooey serves as a prequel to Raise High. There are other books about the Glass family which both of these bestsellers describe.

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Jerome David Salinger was born on January 1, 1919 to Sol Salinger, a Jewish American and Miriam Jillich Salinger. His childhood has been speculated to have been quite similar to that of his most famous character, Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye (Helterman, 435). In 1934, Salinger enrolled in The Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania and graduated two years later in 1936. Salinger's time spent here can also be found in The Catcher in the Rye as the setting. Salinger was drafted into the army on April 27, 1942. In 1943 he was transferred from New York to Maryland to become a special agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). During the next two years he was stationed in England and spent a good deal of his time travelling, including a trip to Paris where he met Ernest Hemingway. He was hospitalized in Nuremberg for psychiatric reasons during 1945 and was discharged from the army in November of that year for unknown reasons (although reportedly non-psychiatric). Also during this year, Salinger married a French woman, known only as Sylvia. They both returned to New York but were divorced one year later. Salinger had apparently continued writing during his time spent in the army. His early stories were published in The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping and Collier's. His writing was described as having a strong interest in the "human voice." Popular themes of childhood and adolescents going into the adult world can be seen in nearly all of his writings (Stevick, 260). In 1948, Salinger became a New Yorker staff writer. During his time at The New Yorker, Salinger published four books, including Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenter and Seymour: an Introduction (1963). All were published in magazine short story form (with the exception of Catcher) and then published in book form. All four books tell the tale of the Glass family and all display Salinger's great interest in Zen Buddhism. During the winter of 1952-1953, Salinger moved to a country house in Cornish, New Hampshire. Here he married Claire Douglas on February 17, 1955. They had two children Margaret Ann and Matthew. However, the couple divorced in 1967. It was during this period that Salinger literally pulled himself out of society. Perhaps it should be noted that his house had no running water, no electricity and no telephone. These are aspects that could indicate a removal from the mainstream. One friend of Salinger's was quoted as describing his friend, "When he's not pounding the typewriter, he's contemplating the Infinite. He's a profoundly serious guy possessed by a search for God" ( Salinger granted one interview during this period to a young high school student. He became outraged after the interview was passed on to a city newspaper against his wishes. He had a huge fence built around his home and announced that he would no longer communicate with the public. J.D. Salinger has been in the news in recent years. His nine-month affair with Joyce Maynard a number of years ago has surfaced after Maynard published a book about her life last year. At 18 years old, Maynard wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine. Salinger wrote a letter to her praising her article and they met soon after. While sharing his Cornish home, Maynard said, "Salinger eat mostly raw food, practiced homeopathic medicine and forced himself to regurgitate food he deemed unhealthy" ( It has also been reported that Salinger will publish his first book in 34 years. Apparently it was originally published in The New Yorker in 1965 and is an episode from the Glass family tale. It is a letter from camp written by a young Seymour Glass. Though I have heard of its existence, I have not seen it surface or heard of it's whereabouts. Given Salinger's reclusive nature, I would not rule out the idea that he is clutching it now in Cornish, New Hampshire.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

After J.D. Salinger published Cather in the Rye in 1961, his credibility as a writer was established. His ability to capture a youthfulness in his characters was praised by a a large percentage of adult readers. In 1963, he ended his saga of the Glass family with Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenter and Seymour: an Introduction. In general, the reviews of 1963 were both positive and negative at the same time. All of the found reviews were solid in their admiration of Salinger's work and style but seemed to be basing this praise on his previous Catcher in the Rye. Anthony Burgess scraped up a simple compliment for Raise High because Salinger, "could have used Holden Caulfield forever" but instead took on the challenge of depicting an entire family.
Another reviewer expressed his growing impatience with Salinger's unresolved saga. As Raise High is essentially the third novel in Salinger's series, readers overall wanted more closure than Salinger was willing to give. A Time magazine reviewer of 1963 wrote, "the grown reader is beginning to wonder whether the sphinxlike Seymour had a secret worth sharing. And if so, when Salinger is going to reveal it."
Irving Howe's review in The New York Times Book Review of 1963 proved to be the most negative. Although he continues the praise of Salinger's overall talent and poignancy, he believed Raise High diverged from Salinger's other work. He sees this work as too sentimental and "marred by the self-indulgence of a writer flirting with depths of widom, yet coy and embarassed in his advances." He comments specifically on Seymour:an Introduction, which (theoretically) serves to tie up the whole Glass family saga as, "eventless and conflictless."
Critics and reviewers general disappointment with Raise High could partly be attributed to Salinger's growing abrassive relationship with the public. Around the publication of Raise High, Salinger's inexplicable move away from society confused and angered the public. This verly likely influenced the reception of his final novel as many of the found reviews include reference to Salinger's personal biography. As one critic cynically remarked in The Christian Century, "We hope that, next time the oracle emits a manuscript from Cornish via tripod and typewriter, it will have moved on from dead center it has come to with Raise High."

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Since J.D. Salinger's last
publication in 1963 with Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenter and Seymour:an Introduction, there have been many articles written concerning the writer. Although, these articles have not discussed his writings at all. The focus of the media in regard to J.D. Salinger is almost fully concentrated on his strange, reclusive personal life. Though his books are still read by many readers, the public's curiosity of his "abnormal" way of life has dominated the subsequent reception history of Raise High.

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

J.D. Salinger's book Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, published in February of 1963, immediately became the number one bestseller according to the New York Times Book Review of th
at year. The ensuing reviews of Salinger's last published work were quite varied. Some loved it; some hated it. There are several possible explanations for the bestseller's success despite its mixed reviews. Before this book was published Salinger him
self had retreated from society and began to live reclusively in Cornish, New Hampshire. He had a cult following which began after the immense reception of his first novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Thus, any work that Salinger published caught the eye of
his devoted readers. Raise High and Seymour were also the last two short stories that Salinger published of his famous Glass family, whose stories had been told for years in the pages of The New Yorker. We must also take into account the period in Ameri
ca when this book was published. Americans were going through many transformation, mental and spiritual in particular, and Salinger's style and teachings tapped into those changes. With all of these factors in mind, it is easy to see why J.D. Salinger's
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction won the praise of the American public and was pronounced a bestseller upon it's publication.
Salinger's style of writing has been praised for it's sensitivity and intuition since his first published word. Young readers throughout America identified with his character Holden Caufield from Catcher in the Rye. Salinger wrote of a person on the bri
nk of his manhood and the thoughts and questions everyone contemplates for themselves. After the publication of Catcher, a cult following came to fruition. Readers looked to Salinger to articulate what they were feeling inside. So, it is not very shock
ing that these readers went into withdrawal during the latter half of the 1960's. J.D. Salinger felt uncomfortable in society and literally became a recluse. This way of life for him had already become a reality before Raise High and Seymour were publis
hed. In 1963, when this book hit the stands, devoted readers snatched the book up as it was the only means to "hear" what Salinger had to say. He granted one interview during the 1960's which ultimately did not go over well, and never commented to the g
eneral public again. Many youthful readers saw Salinger as a friend and were quick to listen to what he had to say.
Many readers of Salinger's work have concluded that much of the stories are told in an auto-biographical way. Ian Hamilton best explains, "But he [Salinger] wants to be a saint because saints are above the human...He invents a saint, one that belongs to
him, that is him: a saint who writes beautiful poetry, who has a breakdown in the war, who marries the wrong woman, who commits suicide. Well, all right, Salinger doesn't commit suicide, but he does the next best thing: he disappears, he stops living in
the world, he makes himself semiposthumous. You can talk about him but you can't talk to him, just like Seymour Glass..." (Hamilton 150). Here, Hamilton is referring to Seymour Glass, the character who remains the protagonist throughout the Glass series
but is truly revealed in the final story, Seymour: An Introduction. This character, whose quest for spiritual enlightenment is told through the voice of his brother, Buddy Glass. Seymour is an illusive character who is referred to while Buddy describes
the rest of their family.
It is apparent that Salinger's previous success with Catcher in the Rye influenced his subsequent publications. This "coat-tail effect" is not unique to this situation. In nearly every review written of the Glass family series, reference was made to Cat
cher. Though Catcher did not serve as a prequel to any of Salinger's short stories, critics could not forget the magic of Salinger's first novel. He established a style with his first novel that was so enthusiastically accepted by the American public, t
hat any deviation from that was noted. Salinger did publish three works after Catcher, and with each publication, readers eagerly awaited a story that wowed them the way Holden Caufield had.
The Glass family saga has one very distinct difference from Holden Caufield: their story is told in a short story format. Frank O'Connor was quoted as defining the short story as, "the art form that deals with the individual when there is no longer a soc
iety to absorb him, and when he is compelled to exist, as it were, by his own inner light" (Kazin 26). Scholars and writers consistently praised Salinger for his mastery of the art of the short story through his series of the Glass family. Salinger publ
ished this series of stories in a non-chronological order. At first it seems as though the formation is uncompleted and haphazard. Yet, Salinger's choice of serialization established an interesting happening in contemporary fiction: these short stories
function as self-contained pieces of literature and also as a compound series. The author also sets up two different sequences in which the stories can be read. One can read the stories chronologically, in the order of publication and also the order in
which the narrator, Buddy Glass wrote them. One can also sequence the stories in order of the chronology of the events. Both of these thematic characteristics to Salinger's stories are innovative and excellently thought-out and display his overall mast
ery of the short story.
Perhaps the most researched and discussed issue in regard to Raise High and Seymour, is Salinger's growing personal interest in Eastern thought. J.D. Salinger was studying the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism throughout much of his published career and
it became a prominent influence in his later work. Salinger opens the story of Raise High with Buddy Glass recounting a memory of his brother Seymour and his sister Franny. Buddy recalls Franny as an infant and unable to sleep, crying at the top of her
lungs. Seymour, then seventeen, jumps up to her side and tells her a story. He reads her a Taoist tale, one that stresses the superiority of intuition over rational thought. This tale not only begins Salinger's short story, but also explains Seymour's
overall philosophy. However, we never actually meet Seymour in this story, thus his philosophy is recycled through the words of his brother Buddy. It is Buddy's transformation and inner change that proves to be the underlying theme in this short story.
Buddy struggles to find the truth of Seymour's character and his actions in marrying a seemingly unsuitable bride. His ultimate realization in understanding his brother can be directly tied back to the Taoist tale told at the beginning of the story. P
o Lo, the narrator of the Taoist tale describes Kao, who follows his intuition, as much better than his own, "What Kao keeps in view is the spiritual mechanism. In making sure of the essential, he forgets the homely details; intent on the inward qualiti
es, he loses sight of the external" (Alsen 42). Buddy concludes that, like Kao, Seymour has achieved this higher way of thinking and acting. It is also apparent that, though Buddy understands the enlightenment of his brother, he has not yet achieved it himself in Raise High. Buddy admits to have included the Taoist tale because it explains the meaning to his story of Seymour's wedding day. T
herefore, from having outright said his purpose in writing, he is not letting the process of writing flow as nature allows, a direct contradiction to the Eastern teaching.
This simple Taoist belief provides an elementary basis for Salinger's short story, Raise High. In Seymour: An Introduction, Salinger also reflects on Taoist and Buddhist thought, but in a more stream-of-consciousness, dialogue type of manner. Salinger's
characters are seeking truth and goodness in humanity through such Eastern teachings. This quest was particularly salient for much of the American public during this period. At the beginning of the 60's, the youth of America was generally frustrated wi
th the ever-increasing chaos of their country. Salinger was also dissatisfied with the state of affairs during this turbulent period in America and, through his short stories, explored other ways of thinking and living. This approach appealed to many of
readers at the time.
Though this quality in Salinger's book appealed to amateur readers, his short stories were not as successful with scholars and critics. Reviewer John Wain criticizes Salinger's immense task he sets out for himself in Raise High and Seymour, "The two mos
t difficult objectives known to man, to describe goodness and to make happiness credible, and Mr. Salinger has undertaken to reach them both at once!" He feels that Salinger has not only undertaken an enormous issue to deal with, he does not come to any w
orthwhile conclusions. He wrote, "Does it bring the glass family more sharply into focus? No. Does it help to put over the perceptions about human life that Mr. Salinger is trying to get into our heads? No. Does it irritate the hell out of us? Yes."
Critic Ganville Hicks agrees with Wain's assertions. Hicks discusses the Glass family's sense of superiority over their common man, "This is the heart of the problem Salinger is attacking: how can a person maintain the highest standards for himself, be
a perfectionist, and still respect and love people whose standards are lower?"
Critics did not receive Salinger's "new" style of writing as well as they had praised his earlier work. The themes of the later stories in the Glass family saga were notably much more philosophical and idealistic. Much of this idealism can be attributed
with Salinger's new Eastern influence. Scholars were giving acclamation to more conventional themes and structures of literature at this time. The general public wasn't as prejudiced and highly appreciated Salinger's unconventional style of writing, pa
rticularly in the fragmented narration of Buddy Glass in Seymour: An Introduction.
This style, also termed Neo-Romanticism, was apparent in other bestsellers at this time. John Updike's novel The Centaur was recorded as the Number 9 bestseller in The New York Times Book Review the week of Raise High's publication. Updike's story of a
mythological half man, half horse was also a commentary on society. Like Salinger, Updike explored themes of humanity and life. Peter Buitennuis reviewed John Updike's novel in the Times Book Review and commented on the author's sensitivity to objects a
nd relationships. Buitennuis characterizes The Centaur as a, "strange, disturbing and rewarding book." Both contain idealistic and philosophical themes which reflect America's desire for a new perspective.
Salinger's abrasive rejection of mainstream American culture greatly affected the reception of his book amongst critics. Yet, the success of his work and the work of his contemporary writers known as the Beat writers, suggests that there were more Americ
ans reading than just critics and scholars. A large portion of America appreciated the questions Salinger raised, the new approaches he took in attempting to provide a solution and his ability to explore different, more unconventional styles of writing.
WORKS CITED Alsen, Eberhard. Salinger's Glass Stories as a Composite Novel. New York: The Whitson Publishing Co., 1983.
Hamilton, Ian. In Search of J.D. Salinger. New York: Random House, 1988. Hassan, Ihab. "The Casino of Silence." Saturday Review 26 Jan 1963:38. Hicks, Granville. "A Glass Menagerie." Saturday Review 26 Jan 1963:37-38. Kazin, Alfred. "J.D. Salinger: ?Everybody's Favorite'." Modern Critical Views: J.D. Salinger. Ed. Harold Bloom. Chelsea House Publishers: New York, 1987. 19-28.
Schultz, Max F. "Epilogue to ?Seymour: An Introduction': Salinger and the Crisis Of Consciousness." Modern Critical Views: J.D. Salinger. Ed. Harold Bloom. Chelsea House Publishers: New York, 1987. 53-62.

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