Salinger’s death in January this year brought down the curtain, if you can say that, on a half-century of wilful seclusion that defines his literary personality and indelibly colours interpretation of his slender published output. “It is my rather subversive opinion,” he wrote in 1961 for the dust jacket of his book Franny and Zooey, “that a writer’s feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him during his working years.” That arch “second most” is a classic Salinger diversion. The real question is: Valuable how? For the hermetic atmosphere these feelings generate? As a testament to purity of motive? As a method of focusing on what’s most important? With Salinger it is difficult to say, because in 1965, after a twenty-five-year career that had produced over thirty stories, three story collections, and one of the most popular novels ever written, he opted to transform avoidance of publicity into the ultimate literary silence by refusing to publish another word for the remaining forty-five years of his life.