Saturday, April 1, 2017

Shakespeare References in Franny And Zooey

I decided to revisit J.D. Salinger’s Franny And Zooey, and found that the book contains several Shakespeare references. The first is in the Franny section, and is a reference to Shakespeare himself. Salinger writes, “I mean to a certain extent I think I was perfectly justified to point out that none of the really good boys – Tolstoy, Dostoevski, Shakespeare, for Chrissake – were such goddam word-squeezers” (p. 13). The other Shakespeare references are all in the Zooey section. There is a reference to Macbeth in the footnote: “The remaining five, however, the senior five, will be stalking in and out of the plot with considerable frequency, like so many Banquo’s ghosts” (p. 52). The next is a reference to Romeo And Juliet: “Much, much more important, though, Seymour had already begun to believe (and I agreed with him, as far as I was able to see the point) that education by any name would smell as sweet, and maybe much sweeter” (p. 65). That’s a reference to Juliet’s lines “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose/By any other word would smell as sweet.” (Most people, for some reason, quote the less preferable Q1 reading of “By any other name.”) There is also another reference to Shakespeare himself: “That is, we wanted you both to know who and what Jesus and Gautama and Lao-tse and Shankaracharya and Huineng and Sri Ramakrishna, etc., were before you knew too much or anything about Homer or Shakespeare or even Blake or Whitman, let alone George Washington and his cherry tree or the definition of a peninsula or how to parse a sentence” (pages 65-55). The final Shakespeare reference is to Hamlet: “At least I’m still in love with Yorick’s skull. At least I always have time enough to stay in love with Yorick’s skull. I want an honorable goddam skull when I’m dead, buddy. I hanker after an honorable goddam skull like Yorick’s” (p. 197).

Franny And Zooey was published as a book in 1961, with the stories appearing in The New Yorker in 1955 and 1957.

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