Most Memorable J. D. Salinger Quotes

In this Buzzle article, we will provide a comprehensive list of some of the most famous quotes by J.D. Salinger that delve into varied topics about human values and morals and feature some of his best works.
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J. D. Salinger quote
"A red mark meant, if I die before I finish my work, publish this 'as is,' blue meant publish but edit first, and so on."

― Margaret Salinger, on her father, J.D. Salinger
Jerome David Salinger was known for his reclusive nature. He stayed away from the public eye as much as he possibly could, instead he preferred his work to speak for itself. Salinger came off as aloof and distant, and he always wrote for what he believed in. In fact, there are several short stories that he wrote in his early years that he has never published, and never wanted to publish even posthumously. He said, he wrote to make himself happy.

While 'The Catcher in the Rye' is possibly his most famous novel, there are several other brilliant works that this author has penned―they are just as complex, and at the same time, simple. Themes like human nature, values and morals, and the degeneration of the same are celebrated in his short stories and novels.

In this Buzzle piece, we have brought for you some of the most memorable J.D. Salinger quotes that showcase just how talented this author was.

Quotes from 'The Catcher in the Rye'

J. D. Salinger quote from The Catcher in the Rye

"And I have one of those very loud, stupid laughs. I mean if I ever sat behind myself in a movie or something, I'd probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up."

"I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible."

"When I really worry about something, I don't just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I don't go. I'm too worried to go. I don't want to interrupt my worrying to go."

"If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late? Nobody."

"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."

"I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it."

"People are always ruining things for you."

"I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

"People never notice anything."

"People always clap for the wrong reasons."

"If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don't watch it, you start showing off. And then you're not as good any more."

"Grand. There's a word I really hate. It's a phony. I could puke every time I hear it."

"Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad."

"I can be quite sarcastic when I'm in the mood."

"I can't explain what I mean. And even if I could, I'm not sure I'd feel like it."

"It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true. People always think something's all true."

"Make sure you marry someone who laughs at the same things you do."

"You don't know how to talk to people you don't like. Don't love, really. You can't live in the world with such strong likes and dislikes."

"This is a people shooting hat," I said. "I shoot people in this hat."

"It's not too bad when the sun's out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out."

"I know he's dead! Don't you think I know that? I can still like him, though, can't I? Just because somebody's dead, you don't just stop liking them, for God's sake--especially if they were about a thousand times nicer than the people you know that're alive and all."

"It always smelled like it was raining outside, even if it wasn't, and you were in the only nice, dry, cosy place in the world."

"If you weren't around, I'd probably be someplace way the hell off. In the woods or some goddamn place. You're the only reason I'm around, practically."

"If you sat around there long enough and heard all the phonies applauding and all, you got to hate everybody in the world, I swear you did."

"That's the whole trouble. When you're feeling very depressed, you can't even think."

"The goddam movies. They can ruin you. I'm not kidding."

"I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life."

"Sleep tight, ya morons!"

Quotes from 'Franny and Zooey'

J.D. Salinger quote from Franny and Zooey

"I'm just sick of ego, ego, ego. My own and everybody else's. I'm sick of everybody that wants to get somewhere, do something distinguished and all, be somebody interesting. It's disgusting."

"And I can't be running back and forth forever between grief and high delight."

"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."

"I love you to pieces, distraction, etc."

"I don't know what good it is to know so much and be smart as whips and all if it doesn't make you happy."

"You're lucky if you get time to sneeze in this goddam phenomenal world."

"She was not one for emptying her face of expression."

"She said she knew she was able to fly because when she came down she always had dust on her fingers from touching the light bulbs."

"Your heart, Bessie, is an autumn garage."

"Sometimes I see me dead in the rain."

"I just never felt so fantastically rocky in my entire life."

"In the first place, you're way off when you start railing at things and people instead of at yourself."

"Against my better judgment I feel certain that somewhere very near here―the first house down the road, maybe―there's a good poet dying, but also somewhere very near here somebody's having a hilarious pint of pus taken from her lovely young body, and I can't be running back and forth forever between grief and high delight."

"Give me an honest con man any day."

"My god, there's absolutely nothing tenth-rate about you, and yet you're up to your neck at this minute in tenth-rate thinking."

"This is God's universe, buddy, not yours, and he has the final say about what's ego and what isn't."

"You can't exist in this world with such strong likes and dislikes."

Quotes from his Other Works

J.D. Salinger quote from The Heart of a Broken Story

"She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together."

― A Girl I Knew

"She was a girl who for a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing. She looked as if her phone had been ringing continually ever since she had reached puberty."

― Nine Stories

"The fact is always obvious much too late, but the most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid."

― Nine Stories

"Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They're always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions."

― Nine Stories

"I have scars on my hands from touching certain people...Certain heads, certain colours and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me."

― Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

"I mean they don't seem able to love us just the way we are. They don't seem able to love us unless they can keep changing us a little bit. They love their reasons for loving us almost as much as they love us, and most of the time more."

― Nine Stories

"If I were God, I certainly wouldn't want people to love me sentimentally. It's too unreliable."

― Nine Stories

"I don't really deeply feel that anyone needs an airtight reason for quoting from the works of the writers he loves, but it's always nice, I'll grant you, if he has one."

― Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

"She wrote to him fairly regularly, from a paradise of triple exclamation points and inaccurate observations."

― Nine Stories

"The connection was so bad, and I couldn't talk at all during most of the call. How terrible it is when you say I love you and the person at the other end shouts back 'What?"

― Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

"They love their reasons for loving us almost as much as they love us, and most of the time more. It's not so good, that way."

― Nine Stories

"He said I was unequipped to meet life because I had no sense of humor."

― For Esme-With Love and Squalor, and Other Stories

"You asked me how to get out of the finite dimensions when I feel like it. I certainly don't use logic when I do it. Logic's the first thing you have to get rid of."

― Nine Stories

"I live alone (but catless, I'd like everybody to know)...."

― Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

"Just go to bed, now. Quickly. Quickly and slowly."

― Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

"The worst thing that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly."

― Nine Stories

"Each of his phrases was rather like a little ancient island, inundated by a miniature sea of whiskey."

― Nine Stories

"I have so much I want to tell you, and nowhere to begin."

― Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

"There are still a few men who love desperately."

― The Heart of a Broken Story

"I don't suppose a writing man ever really gets rid of his old crocus-yellow neckties. Sooner or later, I think, they show up in his prose, and there isn't a hell of a lot he can do about it."

― Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

Personal Quotes

J.D. Salinger quote on irritation

"There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. ... It's peaceful. Still. Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I live to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure. ... I don't necessarily intend to publish posthumously, but I do like to write for myself. ... I pay for this kind of attitude. I'm known as a strange, aloof kind of man. But all I'm doing is trying to protect myself and my work."

― On his thoughts on writing.

"I'm aware that many of my friends will be saddened and shocked, or shock-saddened, over some of the chapters in 'The Catcher in the Rye'. Some of my best friends are children. In fact, all my best friends are children. It's almost unbearable for me to realize that my book will be kept on a shelf out of their reach."

― On his book being taken off the shelves of school libraries and bookstores because the protagonist was considered a bad role model for the youth.

"There's no more to Holden Caulfield. Read the book again. It's all there. Holden Caulfield is only a frozen moment in time."

― On Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of 'The Catcher in the Rye'.

"Some stories, my property, have been stolen. Someone's appropriated them. It's an illicit act. It's unfair. Suppose you had a coat you liked and somebody went into your closet and stole it. That's how I feel."

― On his unpublished stories being stolen.

"I wrote them a long time ago, and I never had any intention of publishing them. I wanted them to die a perfectly natural death. I'm not trying to hide the gaucheries of my youth. I just don't think they're worthy of publishing."

― On his unauthorized, paperback stories being distributed to libraries.

"It's really very irritating. I'm very upset about it."

― On bookstores selling his stories, violating copyright laws.

Today, with several of Salinger's short stories still unpublished, there is hope that his daughter Margaret will some day publish some of his works (those that he wanted her to). That would truly be a day to rejoice for all his fans and the literary world in general. After all, it is not everyday that this style and quality of writing comes to be.
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Published: July 25, 2014
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