Guest Post on Salinger from Scott Brown

salingerspread-sm.jpgHere’s a blast from the past: Back when Fine Books was called O.P. (short for out of print), we did a story about Lotte Jacobi, a German expatriate photographer who made a living after the Second World War taking author photos for the publishers in New York. One day in 1950, a 31-year-old writer about to have his first book published showed up in her studio. She took about 20 shots of him and moved on to other work. One of the photos ended up on the back of the dust jacket of Catcher in the Rye, a novel that turned into the surprise literary sensation of the year. Within a few months, the author, J. D. Salinger, asked that the picture to be removed, and no author portrait has appeared on any of his books since.

Back in 2004, following a tip that all the photographs from Jacobi’s Salinger photo-shoot were at the University of New Hampshire, we obtained sixteen unpublished photographs and permission to publish some of them for what we believe was the first time. We ran eight images in the March/April 2004 issue of OP. I wanted to put one on the cover, but given Salinger’s notoriously litigious nature and our meager finances, I chickened out.

While Jacobi never managed to capture Salinger with more than a half-smile, the unpublished photos are much looser than the published version, though the author never looks quite comfortable. One can imagine his disaffected literary creation, Holden Caulfield, whispering in his ear, “What a phony,” while Salinger tries to strike a suave 1950s pose.

Scott Brown


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