Sunday, September 6, 2015
Salinger's 1951 novel remains iconic for its portrayal of teenage angst
He was known for avoiding the spotlight after the success of The Catcher in the Rye but at last, author JD Salinger's life will be the focus of a new biopic.
British actor Nicholas Hoult is taking the lead role in Rebel in the Rye, with Empire creator Danny Strong writing and directing a storyline based on Kenneth Slawenski's biography JD Salinger: A Life.
The drama will follow Salinger's journey from rebellious youth and World War II frontline service to literary fame and eventual reclusiveness.
Met with controversial upon its publication in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is considered an iconic novel particularly popular with teenage readers for its themes of angst, alienation and lost innocence.
Salinger once wrote that he did not believe protagonist Holden Caulfield's first-person narration would translate well into cinema and therefore did not want to see a film in his lifetime. He died in 2010 aged 91.
Salinger's life, however, has been the subject of a documentary before. Shane Salerno released Salinger in 2013 and is currently working on a rival biopic with the Weinstein Co.
Further details on casting and release for Rebel in the Rye are yet to be confirmed.
Posted by Bloglapedia at 11:30 AM
Sunday, July 26, 2015
JD Salinger: the little-known legacy of one of the world’s most-read authors
Salinger is still known for the resonance his only novel, 'The Catcher in the Rye', has with young readers, but at the core of his fiction sits a theme that is often overlooked – unresolved grief.
Emma Michelle and Anne Maxwell, The Conversation ·
For an author who wrote every day until his death in 2010, JD Salinger published very little. Yet despite his refusal to engage with the literary world, he generated vast critical and mainstream interest – interest that spiked dramatically when a recent documentary suggested he’d approved five new books for publication before 2020.
Today – 64 years since The Catcher in the Rye (1951) was first published – we examine a little-known legacy of one of the world’s most-read authors.
To date, Salinger is still known for the resonance that his only published novel has with young readers, but at the core of his fiction sits a theme that is often overlooked – unresolved grief. Salinger’s work is rife with characters suffering through long and unresolved mourning, a theme informed by his own experiences fighting in the second world war and subsequent nervous breakdown and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Salinger’s popularity among teenage readers is well documented and The Catcher in the Rye, in addition to more than 65 million copies sold already, continues to sell around 250,000 copies each year, (perhaps due to the fact it is often prescribed as a high school text). Classrooms and critics alike have seen Salinger’s novel as exploring adolescent themes such as rebellion and isolation, and the sarcastic vernacular of its 17-year-old narrator make him instantly relatable to generations of teenagers.
If readers remember nothing else of Holden Caulfield, they remember his enthusiasm to call people “phony”. Denouncing peers for any slight insincerity, Holden’s appeal to adolescents is long attributed to his struggle against conformity. In other words, he’s a teenage hero who navigates the divide between being oneself and fitting in – a key concern for young readers.
Yet Holden’s suffering in the novel isn’t the result of ordinary angst; its source is the death of his brother, Allie, from leukaemia. Four years later, Holden is still dealing with the loss, idealising Allie (“terrifically intelligent”, “the nicest … he never got mad at anybody”) and acting like he’s still alive (“I certainly don’t enjoy seeing him in that crazy cemetery. Surrounded by dead guys and tombstones and all”).
Freud described melancholia as a stalled mourning where a bereaved is abnormally consumed by loss. A 1983 study of bereavement showed that people experiencing unresolved grief were less likely to have attended the deceased’s funeral. Holden could not attend Allie’s funeral, Salinger tells us, because he was in hospital after breaking the garage windows with his fists when Allie died. Teenage rebellion is there, but only as a product of grief.
Dead brothers and grieving characters are everywhere in Salinger’s fiction, notably the shell-shocked war veteran Seymour Glass who puts a gun to his temple and thereby triggers multiple Salinger stories about the Glass family dealing with his death.
Eleven years after Seymour’s suicide, his brother “Buddy” writes a reminiscence that shows countless manifestations of his unresolved grief that is strikingly similar to Holden’s. Buddy describes Seymour by stressing his fundamental extraordinariness (like he had “the intellect of a genius and the moral sensitivity and compassion of a Buddhist monk”), speaks as if Seymour is still alive and suffers physically when recalling poignant memories of him.
Salinger’s exact movements during the second world war were revealed only recently, and the factual links to his stories are now well known.
The nightmares of Sergeant X are based on Salinger’s first-hand knowledge of the grisly Battle of Hürtgen Forest (1944) (which a historian in the documentary describes as “a meat grinder”). The second world war is the ghost in the machine of every Salinger story – he wrote non-stop during the war and even carried six parts of The Catcher in the Rye into battle on D-DAY .
His daughter wrote about how Holden’s cries of “Save me, Allie, save me!” as he feels himself “sinking down, down, down” can be read as a soldier’s anguish on the battlefield. While “the traumas of war and death” are displaced, she notes, “their ability to destroy lives and wreak emotional havoc upon the survivors diminishes not a whit”.
Salinger rarely spoke about his time at war, save for one chilling remark to his daughter:
You never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose entirely. No matter how long you live.
However, the prevalence of unresolved grief in his fiction helps illuminate our understanding.
As a notoriously reclusive figure Salinger would no doubt resist an autobiographical reading of his texts, yet critics keenly identify the obvious and numerous parallels between Salinger/ Holden and Salinger/ Buddy. The fact remains: a younger and much less guarded Salinger himself called Buddy “my alter-ego and collaborator” on the original dust jacket for Franny and Zooey (1961), and told friends that Holden was a younger version of himself.
Unresolved grief is rarely explored in critical discussions about Salinger. His “preoccupation with dead brothers” is noted in passing, as well as the general presence of internalised trauma in his fiction – and the fact Holden is definitely grieving.
If a theme across The Catcher In The Rye and the Glass family stories has not changed, it is observed as childlike innocence, not prolonged mourning. To date there is no comprehensive study of grief in Salinger’s work, the identical experiences of Holden and Buddy or any possible relation these have to the writer’s personal history.
Salinger’s contribution to bereavement literature remains little-known, though perhaps not for long.
Among the five new books is A Counterintelligence Agent’s Diary – a novella based on Salinger’s interactions with civilians and soldiers during the second world war.
Structured as the diary of a man entrenched in the everyday horrors of war, this text likely forms a missing link between the prolonged grief found everywhere in his fiction and Salinger’s own experience in struggling to reconcile death and loss.
The publishing schedule of these five new books is still to be announced.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Battle of Hürtgen Forest: The 9th Infantry Division Suffered in the Heavily Armed Woods
Hürtgen. If a single word can cause a U.S. Army veteran of the European theater to shudder, it would be that. The foreboding image of dark forests, steep hills, voracious mud, pillboxes, constant rain and shells bursting in treetops immediately comes to mind. It was the sort of battlefield where soldiers walked a few feet from their foxholes and were never seen again.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the GIs who endured that hell on earth would prefer to push such awful memories out of their minds and may explain why, in the years since, the story of the Hürtgen Forest battles remains a historical stepchild of more glorious encounters such as D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. What little has been done on Hürtgen has often focused on the November 1944 battles involving the 28th Infantry Division and has ignored the horrible prelude to the “Bloody Bucket’s” mauling, which occurred over 10 days in October.
The struggle for the 50 square miles of heavily wooded and hilly terrain south of Aachen actually began in mid-September. With their supply line stretched to the breaking point, the Allies’ rapid advance through France had finally slowed down at the Siegfried Line, the formidable defensive belt that blocked Germany’s western border and guarded the entrance to the Ruhr Valley. Hoping to seize Aachen and establish a firm breach in the Siegfried Line before winter’s onset, Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, commanding VII Corps, ordered Maj. Gen. Louis A. Craig’s 9th Infantry Division to seize the villages of Hürtgen and Kleinhau. After some initial progress, the American drive stalled when two of Craig’s regiments were diverted north to assist the 3rd Armored Division, which was embroiled in a brutal battle at the Aachen suburb of Stolberg.
A newsreel cameraman follows a squad of infantrymen as they disappear into the trees of the Hürtgen Forest at the start of the attack. The 9th Division’s assault was intended as a diversion in support of the First Army’s drive on Aachen. What the Americans did not know was that hidden in the woods were thousands of German soldiers eager for an opportunity to administer a strong counterblow that would blunt the Allied drive into the Third Reich.
In early October, Craig was ordered to resume his attack in the Hürtgen Forest. Now, however, he would have to do so minus his 47th Infantry Regiment, which remained in support of the 3rd Armored, and with understrength units sent from the fighting around Aachen. To further complicate matters, Collins made it clear that the 9th Division’s effort was regarded only as secondary — supporting the Allies’ main attack at Aachen. That meant Craig would be at the bottom of the list for reinforcements, artillery or air support, though the general took some comfort knowing he was not expected to begin his assault until three days after VII Corps began its renewed push toward Aachen.
The villages of Germeter and Vossenack, as well as the crossroads settlement of Reichelskaul, were designated as the 9th Division’s initial objectives. Lieutenant Colonel Van H. Bond’s 39th Infantry Regiment would attack on the left. Once it had occupied Germeter, the 39th would seize Vossenack while guarding against an enemy counterattack from the north. Meanwhile, after capturing Reichelskaul, Colonel John G. Van Houten’s 60th Infantry Regiment would reorient itself to the south to guard against a German counterthrust from the direction of Monschau. The division would then push on against the town of Schmidt. Jump-off time was originally set for October 5 but was later postponed for 24 hours.
The initial thrust would be conducted by four battalions. In addition to support from two regimental cannon companies, Craig had four divisional howitzer battalions along with three battalions of reinforcing artillery, for a grand total of 96 pieces. A company of 4.2-inch mortars was attached to each regiment, along with a company each from supporting tank (746th) and tank destroyer (899th) battalions.
Against this small force were the Landsers of Maj. Gen. Hans Schmidt’s 275th Infantry Division, which had briefly fought north of Aachen before being transferred to the Hürtgen in late September to fill a gap between the 12th Volksgrenadier Division and the 353rd Infantry Division. On October 1, LXXIV Army Corps directed Schmidt to take over the entire Hürtgen sector, including the area occupied by the 353rd. As the 353rd’s headquarters and service units departed, its combat units were absorbed by the 275th. Schmidt also received the 353rd’s artillery component, giving him a total of 25 pieces, as well as six assault guns from Sturmgeschütz Brigade 902.
Schmidt’s division had originally consisted of a pair of grenadier (mechanized infantry) regiments: GR 983 led by a Colonel Schmitz and GR 984 commanded by Colonel Joachim Heintz. Schmidt deployed Schmitz’s men in reserve while assigning the northern sector to Heintz. The center was allocated to one of the 353rd’s former units, Lt. Col. Friedrich Tröster’s GR 942, while the southern sector was the responsibility of Colonel Feind’s GR Replacement and Training Battalion 253. Feind commanded 1,000 men and was placed along the weakest portion of the line.
The Americans knew few of these details when they began their attack at 1000 hours on October 6. Craig opened with fighter-bombers striking at otherwise invisible targets that U.S. artillery units had marked with columns of red smoke. Once the planes departed, there was a five-minute preparatory artillery barrage, then the U.S. foot soldiers began surging forward.
Assaulting the extreme northern end of the line held by GR 253, the 1st and 3rd battalions of Colonel Bond’s 39th Infantry gained 1,000 yards while suffering 29 casualties. Lieutenant Colonel Oscar H. Thompson’s 1st Battalion attacked with A and B companies in the lead, trailed by C Company. Captain Jack Dunlap’s B Company drew first blood when it overran an outpost and killed or captured 30 men. Crossing a creek, Dunlap’s men pushed on until they encountered several pillboxes, whereupon he decided to hold up for the night. Thompson then brought his other companies on line and waited for daylight.
On the 1st Battalion’s northern flank, Lt. Col. Richard H. Stumpf’s 3rd Battalion of the 39th Infantry advanced with L Company on the left and K Company on the right, with I Company in reserve. For the first 1,000 yards, the lead companies met only sniper and small-arms fire, but by late afternoon, heavier resistance had begun to build. Although L Company reduced an enemy strongpoint without too much delay, K Company was pinned down by accurate fire from a position southeast of the battalion sector. As evening approached, Stumpf decided to hold in place until darkness to allow K Company to safely disengage. General Schmidt was sufficiently alarmed by American progress in this sector to order Captain Riedel’s Fusilier Battalion 275 to launch a counterattack against the Americans the next morning.
Colonel Van Houten’s 60th Infantry attacked enemy defenses southwest of Reichelskaul. On the left, Major Lawrence Decker’s 2nd Battalion moved forward 500 yards before its lead platoons were pinned down. Every attempt to advance ended in failure and heavy losses. By the time the attack petered out, 130 of Decker’s officers and men had become casualties.
To the right, Van Houten’s 3rd Battalion of the 60th soon encountered difficulties of its own. After a short eastward advance, the battalion ran into a pillbox which, together with heavy mortar fire and a strong enemy response on the left flank, occupied the attention of two of Van Houten’s companies for the remainder of the day. By nightfall, however, K Company was able to move about 1,000 yards to the southeast. At 1600 hours, the colonel directed that his 1st Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Lee Chatfield, move north until it linked with the 39th Infantry. At daybreak Chatfield would launch an attack to the east in order to outflank the Germans, barring Decker’s advance.
Both sides were prepared to launch their own attacks at almost the same time. Fusilier Battalion 275 went forward only to encounter Americans who had been expecting some sort of reaction to their previous day’s advance. Captain Riedel was wounded and the survivors of his unit pinned down. Captain Dunlap took advantage of the situation by infiltrating GIs into the woods just west of Germeter, but Colonel Thompson would not let him enter the village for fear it would expose his B Company to counterattacking panzers.
By noon the 1st Battalion had succeeded in bypassing II/GR 942. Schmidt reacted by deploying Landesschützen Battalion I/9 to the rear of II/GR 942. The American success also convinced him that “the southernmost elements of GR 253 defending a line of West Wall bunkers were thus in danger of being enveloped from the rear.” Schmidt ordered Colonel Feind to block off the threat of a further enemy penetration in that sector. In response, U.S. Engineer Battalions 16 and 275 occupied positions between Reichelskaul and Raffelsbrand while three companies of Engineer Battalion 73 dug in along the Hürtgen-Germeter road.
During the night of October 7-8, Colonel Schmitz sent reinforcements to the aid of GR 253. Fortress Infantry Battalion 1412 and Luftwaffe Fortress Battalion 5 were also dispatched by LXXIV Army Corps to reinforce the 275th. In addition Schmidt received two companies of civilian police from Düren, hurriedly issued with army uniforms and rifles. He combined the police into an ad hoc formation named Battalion Hennecke (after its commander). Several howitzer batteries from the 89th Infantry Division, an anti-aircraft artillery regiment and elements of an artillery corps were ordered to occupy positions where they could augment the fire of Major Sturm’s Artillery Regiment 275.
A column of GIs ascends a hill and enters the forest. Many of the men sent into the woods as replacements were unprepared for what they would face. An Army historian later noted, “Any numerical advantage the Americans may have possessed lay in bug-eyed replacements, who began to arrive in small, frightened bunches.”
With fresh troops and additional artillery, Feind planned to launch a coordinated counterthrust at dawn, using I/GR 983 and Engineer Battalion 275. His intended target was Colonel Chatfield’s 1st Battalion, 60th Infantry, now located just west of Reichelskaul. Advancing northwest from Simonskall, the German counterattack crumbled when it came under intense mortar, artillery and small-arms fire.
The 39th Infantry planned to renew its advance at 0800 hours, but a heavy barrage began falling on its lead battalions an hour before the attack was to begin. The 3rd Battalion suffered a serious setback when its L Company commander was killed and casualties disorganized his unit. Immediately following the barrage, a German force of 150 to 200 men counterattacked the 1st Battalion but was repelled by Captain Ralph Edgar’s A Company. The Germans then shifted their efforts farther north, hitting L and I companies. Colonel Bond sent G Company from the 2nd Battalion, which quickly overran three enemy machine guns. The loss of the automatic weapons seemed to take the fight out of the Germans, who retired to the east. Thirty German soldiers were killed during the engagement, and 27 others, including a wounded company commander, were captured.
After thwarting the enemy counterattack, Bond ordered his lead elements to resume their advance at 1100 hours. Bolstered by the arrival of supporting tanks, L and I companies moved forward. By 1215 hours, L Company had gained 200 yards and captured three pillboxes. The 3rd Battalion’s progress slowed and finally came to a halt shortly before 1800 hours. Still lacking supporting tanks, Thompson’s 1st Battalion did not attempt to advance across the open ground surrounding Germeter.
The 1st Battalion, 60th Infantry, launched its own attack against the Reichelskaul road junction at 1100 hours and was met by intense artillery and mortar fire. B Company, accompanied by several tanks, was able to detour north into the 39th’s zone of operations before veering back east again. This small force pushed to within sight of the crossroads before holding up for the night. The 2nd Battalion, however, was unsuccessful in overcoming the enemy to its front. Although the Germans had been pushed back, two days into the attack the Americans had yet to defeat the 275th, which continued to maintain an unbroken line of resistance. The bloodletting would continue.
During the night, Van Houten made plans to push eastward now that supporting tanks and tank destroyers had linked with his leading elements. Led by a platoon of M4 Shermans from the 746th Tank Battalion, Van Houten’s 1st Battalion pushed out into open ground south of Germeter at daybreak.
The 39th joined the attack at 0700 hours, but without artillery preparation. This time, supporting tanks were available and actively engaged. The 1st Battalion made a short advance to the edge of the clearing surrounding Germeter before being brought to a halt. C Company suffered particularly heavy casualties when it attempted to breach a barbed wire entanglement. Only the tanks attached to B Company were in position to place effective fire on the enemy defenders. By 1900 hours, a platoon from C Company finally succeeded in working several men close enough to the outskirts of Germeter to begin exchanging hand grenades with the Germans. Unable to support them however, at nightfall Thompson ordered them to pull back.
The 3rd Battalion moved out 45 minutes behind the 1st. As it advanced, the sound of tracked vehicles could be heard near Wittscheidt, and for the rest of the afternoon occasional high-velocity rounds exploded in treetops throughout the battalion’s sector. Despite enemy sniper fire, I Company was able to occupy Wittscheidt by 1615 hours. With darkness approaching, Colonel Stumpf decided to halt his advance. To forestall the possibility of an armored counterattack from the direction of Hürtgen, he directed I Company to mine the road leading to Wittscheidt and to register artillery on all likely enemy routes of approach.
Any plan to resume the advance the next day was forestalled by a dawn counterattack by Battalion Hennecke that overwhelmed two platoons from I Company, capturing 41 men. The German success meant that Bond would have to spend the rest of the day just trying to retake the ground he had lost. The 1st Battalion likewise did not attack as planned. Each time Thompson’s men tried to move forward they received accurate small-arms fire as well as direct fire from German self-propelled guns.
Things went somewhat better for the 60th Infantry. The 1st Battalion pushed off at noon to seize the Raffelsbrand road junction south of Germeter. In what seemed to be a nightmarish repetition of the opening days of the attack, the thinned ranks of hungry and bone-weary GIs trudged forward while steadily losing men to incoming fire. The situation changed dramatically when one of the lead companies overcame a German pillbox covering the road between Reichelskaul and Raffelsbrand. Buoyed by success, the Americans pushed southward, collecting 100 prisoners and securing their objective by nightfall. With Raffelsbrand in American hands, Van Houten ordered the 3rd Battalion to redeploy to Reichelskaul to protect Chatfield’s rear and maintain pressure on German units massing southeast of Germeter.
The loss of the road junction persuaded Schmidt that he needed additional troops. LXXIV Army Corps agreed to loan two rifle companies from the 89th Infantry Division, provided they were used only along the threatened southern flank. The reinforcements would not arrive until dawn on October 11, however, and in the meantime Schmidt sent a company each from GR 983 and GR 984 to strengthen Colonel Feind’s GR 253.
The Americans’ position was also somewhat precarious. With no reserves available, Van Houten had nothing to send to Chatfield’s aid. To the east, the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry, was still being held back by the stubborn defenders of II/GR 942. To the north, the 39th Infantry remained stalled outside Wittscheidt and Germeter.
October 11 brought success and failure for both sides. American attempts to exploit success at Raffelsbrand produced nothing but longer casualty lists. A German counterattack struck Chatfield’s men before daylight, and though beaten back, Chatfield reported that “the enemy maintained pressure here for the rest of the day and crowned it before dark with a bayonet charge.” When the Americans tried to bring up reinforcements, they were pinned down by several pillboxes along the Reichelskaul-Raffelsbrand road that they had bypassed the previous day.
The 1st Battalion, 39th Infantry, was finally able to enter Germeter but found that its defenders had abandoned their positions during the night. Hoping to seize more ground, Thompson ordered Captain Edgar’s A Company, supported by Lieutenant Robert Sherwood’s 1st Platoon of C/746th Tank Battalion, to probe eastward toward Vossenack. The column had only covered 500 or so yards when a Panzerschreck knocked out the lead tank, and the remaining American armor and infantry withdrew. A subsequent advance by A Company under cover of smoke ended with the destruction of two more Shermans.
The Americans had some success to the north and west of Germeter. Leaving I Company behind to protect the northern approaches to the town, K and L companies encountered little resistance as they moved eastward from Wittscheidt. By late afternoon, Stumpf’s battalion had advanced nearly a mile and was preparing to attack Vossenack from a ridge northeast of the village. The 2nd Battalion was also able to advance.
Craig’s men had at least been gradually moving forward, but ominous events had occurred during the night that would soon threaten what little progress they had made. Accompanied by the LXXIV Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Erich Straube, Seventh Army commander Lt. Gen. Erich Brandenburger visited Schmidt’s command post. After hearing a candid assessment of the situation, Brandenburger promised to send Regiment Wegelein, a unit composed of well-trained and well-equipped troops to the front. Numbering 161 officers and 1,639 enlisted/officer cadets, the force was organized with three battalions of three companies each and a regimental heavy-weapons company. Its commander, Colonel Helmuth Wegelein, was an experienced leader.
Schmidt and Wegelein quickly agreed that a counterattack against the northern flank of the Americans had the best chance of producing favorable results. Wegelein would launch his assault from an assembly area near Hürtgen, advancing southwest until he isolated the American battalions near Germeter.
Following a brief but concentrated artillery preparation, Wegelein’s men advanced from their positions just before dawn, moving purposefully along the wooded plateau paralleling the Germeter-Hürtgen road. A platoon of dismounted armor crewmen from 746th Tank Battalion, securing a roadblock along the left flank of 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry, was the first to encounter this new threat and was quickly scattered. By 0700 hours, Wegelein had succeeded in isolating several of Lt. Col. Gunn’s rifle companies. As testament to the isolation caused by the densely wooded terrain, the 39th’s 3rd Battalion was completely unaware that the nearby 1st Battalion was being cut to pieces.
Lacking reserves to blunt the enemy thrust, Colonel Bond requested help from General Craig, who directed elements of the divisional reconnaissance troop — augmented by a platoon of light tanks — to assist the embattled 39th Infantry. As the situation grew more serious, Craig ordered the 47th Infantry at Schevenhütte to dispatch two rifle companies and a company of medium tanks from the 3rd Armored Division to reinforce Bond. Rushed to the point of greatest crisis, these reinforcements were finally able to halt the German advance when it reached the road leading west out of Germeter.
The abortive counterattack cost the Germans nearly 500 casualties, with little to show in return. The failed operation, however, produced at least one positive result for the Germans: Surprised by the strength and intensity of their assault, Bond ordered Stumpf’s battalion to abandon its plans to attack Vossenack in order to reduce the salient Wegelein had created.
Schmidt planned on renewing the counterattack on October 13, but orders from LXXIV Army Corps directed the immediate removal of all officer candidates from the combat zone, which cut in half what remained of Wegelein’s unit and forced him to spend badly needed time reorganizing his remaining personnel. While he was doing so, the 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry, launched an attack of its own against Wegelein’s troops. K Company led the effort, trailed by L Company. As the latter moved up on line, both of its leading platoons were ambushed and wiped out. K Company maneuvered to attack the enemy facing L Company while the 1st Battalion sent B and C companies into the fight. Another counterattack inflicted heavy losses on the right platoon of Dunlap’s company, but the American advance continued.
At 1730 hours, a German bearing a white flag approached B Company and requested a brief cease-fire while his unit prepared to surrender. Dunlap sent the man back with a message that he would hold his fire for five minutes. When the German emissary did not reappear within the stated time, B Company resumed its advance, only to run into a torrent of small-arms fire. It was now almost dark, and the enemy seemed to be on all sides. Fearing that his exhausted company was losing its cohesion, Dunlap ordered his men to fall back a short distance and dig in.
Facing four enemy battalions at Raffelsbrand, the 1st Battalion, 60th Infantry, was experiencing its own difficulties. Just before dawn, a surprise German attack seized a pillbox occupied by C Company. Although the seven GIs inside were able to escape, a counterattack by 30 men was unable to regain the position. Three Sherman tanks and two infantry companies eventually arrived to lend a hand, but even with those reinforcements, a heavy crossfire from several machine guns prevented the Americans from making any progress. One of the tanks was hit by an antitank rocket that wounded several men and forced the crew to evacuate the vehicle. A daring German soldier then ran out to the tank and drove it behind a nearby pillbox before the Americans could react. With this, the Americans lost all momentum, and at 1730 hours they began to fall back, suffering heavy casualties from enemy artillery and mortar fire.
That evening Wegelein went to Schmidt’s headquarters to protest orders for a renewed advance on the morning of October 14, stating that communications to his battalions and companies were so poor there was a risk that all units might not receive a regimental order. Schmidt replied that he would accuse Wege-lein of cowardice if he did not resume his attacks.
Determined to show that he was no coward, Wegelein spent a busy night personally delivering the orders to his units. He still had more visits to make as the sun rose on the 14th. At 0800 hours, however, the colonel was shot and killed by a sergeant from the U.S. 39th Infantry, and his regimental adjutant was captured moments later.
The fighting sputtered on and off for two more days, but it was clear that both sides were too exhausted to achieve significant results. At a cost of 4,410 casualties, the Americans succeeded in pushing their front line an average of 3,500 yards to the east. Nonbattle losses (sickness, injury, etc.) for American units totaled nearly 1,000. The toll for the defenders was also high — approximately 2,000 killed or wounded and 1,308 prisoners.
After breaking off the offensive, Collins made the questionable claim that the sacrifices of Craig’s men had drawn off German units that could have been thrown into the battle for Aachen. Although it is true that 19 German infantry and engineer battalions opposed six American infantry battalions, many of the defending units were much smaller than their counterparts. In any case, though the Hürtgen fighting might have prevented some German units from being sent to Aachen, their redeployment would not have altered that city’s eventual fate.
More important, given the experience of the 9th Division during the opening phase of the battle, the larger question is why senior American leaders such as Generals Courtney Hodges, Omar Bradley and Dwight D. Eisenhower chose in November 1944 to send division after division into the dark and foreboding woods right until the start of the German Ardennes offensive that December. By the time major combat operations in the area finally ceased, six U.S. divisions had been fed into the meat grinder and some 33,000 soldiers had become casualties without achieving a breach in the Siegfried Line.
According to the U.S. Army’s official history, “The real winner appeared to be the vast, undulating blackish-green sea that virtually negated American superiority in air, artillery, and armor to reduce warfare to its lowest common denominator.” Given the terrible cost, it seems clear that Maj. Gen. James Gavin might have been more correct when he said, “For us the Hürtgen was one of the most costly, most unproductive, and most ill-advised battles that our army has ever fought.”
Mark Reardon is a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History. This article originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of World War II magazine. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today!
The Passion to Unite
You can find in some of world’s literature and religions humanity’s deepest passions: the passion to unify our many parts which throughout life have been scattered, neglected, abandoned, even tragically damaged or exploited. The call to unity nowhere is so alluring than in the teenage years. The hippie movement was originally a youth movement; their ethos, to live in harmony with nature, people and the world. We all know what happened to it. In October, 1967, a mock funeral heralded the symbolic death of the movement, urging people not to come to San Fransisco to join them any more.
Teenagers are both passionate and vulnerable, it is not their fault. They are merely responding to the strong urges of their soul to unify themselves and their broken world. They experiment with drugs, rebel against conventions, die in car crashes or drug overdoses, join cults or sadly even commit suicide. The demons of adolescence are real, mean and powerful.
J.D. Salinger the American author, believed that the world of adults is twisted and corrupt and children lose their innocence at a great cost. When he was writing parts of his book, The Catcher in the Rye, he was also fighting the Germans in France and witnessed children being thrown into the German army in a desperate attempt to win the war. Holden Caulfield, the seventeen year old narrator in the novel, like those children who died helplessly on the battlefield, is not a hero. In fact on his own admission he was easily ‘yellowed’. He is full of anger, frustration and contradictions. However, also sensitive enough to feel the pain and sadness of others, and be depressed about it. More importantly Holden had a unique voice. And that’s the main appeal of the book which has sold more than 65 million copies so far to both men and women worldwide. An adolescent with a voice that echoes the universal angst of teenagers, Holden longs for authenticity and labels the many people around him as phony. He mistrusts a lot of the stuff that his pop culture also produces. The book has been interpreted ultimately as tragic. What happens to Holden at the end? He more likely became part of the same establishment that he detested or committed suicide.
The world today is very different. Opportunities for cross cultural interactions are plenty. cIf in the ancient or medieval world there were only a handful of cosmopolitan cities there are now many where people from many different backgrounds live together in relative harmony. Those cities are mainly in the west where political and economical stability attract migrants. A high percentage of people currently living in western countries were born overseas. In the U.K. 11%, Australia 25%, Canada 18%, Germany 13%, the U.S. 13%, Switzerland 23% to name only some. Some western politicians in Europe are against multiculturalism and see it as a failure. The only reason for a government to announce that cultural diversity has failed is to admit to their own lack of vision for the future. Instead of trying to create the next generation in their own image governments need to facilitate people to love and explore their cultural connections, through language, history and the arts. Understanding and appreciating cultural diversity shapes the cultures of the future which hopefully would then be more inclusive and not so easily threatened, and more importantly lead to more vibrant and dynamic societies. Western countries by taking more migrants can only hasten the coming of a new age where cultures could reach new heights and the mission of uniting oneself and the world would become less daunting and more realistic. Unification of the self is not separate from unification of the world. In a recent interview with Mohsen Hamid (the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist) he said something simple, yet very true: Migrants should be encouraged and not frowned upon if they have the capacity to love the country and the culture that they have left behind and the country and culture that they have come to call home.
Is there a limit to the human heart and mind as to how many languages someone could speak? How many friends people can have or be loyal to? Why loving two cultures is strange? Why does it have to be one or the other? The world can become a friendlier and more unified place with people who have the capacity to love and keep the best qualities of the cultures they see themselves as part of. Cultural homogeneity is only inflexible and promotes exclusion, elitism and a limited view of the world. It lacks future vision.
The intolerant elements of the dominant cultures usually criticise new migrants for their lack of integration, especially when the host language is not learned properly, is spoken badly or with a heavy, incomprehensible accent, or if these migrants are racially and religiously very different to the mainstream culture. However a host culture needs to take into account that it takes time to integrate. And the focus should be the future. Human interaction should not just be about language or shallow communication (as often is these days) but also about understanding of each other at a deeper level and about showing kindness and respect. Andre Agassi once said that English was the second language of the three people closest to him - his father, his coach and his wife. Language is only one important aspect of a meaningful relationship. Those of us who have had intimate relationships, either romantic or platonic probably have discovered that there is a mystery at the heart of all relationships which is beyond our understanding; and one that no language can quite define.
To become whole and experience unity within our lifetime is an ancient human desire, deeply rooted in our psyche. Buddha talked about it in the context of nirvana or enlightenment. Zoroaster, a forgotten prophet outside his native land, emphasised the importance of good deeds, good thoughts and good words as we go about our daily lives. Jesus preached about the kingdom of God as a place where everything is so radically different from what we currently know or can understand; yet the seed of that place, that new beginning, is in all our hearts. And Socrates questioned the prevalent wisdom and understanding of his dominant culture in the hope of making his people realise that they don’t know that they don’t know. St. Paul expressed it succinctly in one of his letters to the Corinthians: “For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully…” Rumi’s personal transformation came as a result of meeting someone. He changed from merely a dry, Muslim scholar to the world’s greatest mystical poet. No one really knows what happened but through that encounter he was changed forever.
Encountering the other at some point in our lives can be the most powerful life changing experience. Such life changing encounters cannot be engineered, scripted, staged or acted out. They are serendipitous. They could come when we are looking for something else. Or when we have hit the bottom and have nowhere to turn and what we know have proven to be useless in the face of crushing challenge. The encounter with the other could also be with the great works of arts and of course with nature itself.
All our transformative encounters, great or small are just as important. They are the greatest gifts - not just to ourselves but also to humanity. I hope we all experience it in our lifetime because when we are ready to meet the other we always change for the better and the meeting is as unique as our countenances and as illuminating as the sun’s rays penetrating the darkest and remotest caverns of our souls . And the end will never be tragic; but fulfilling, because the ultimate aim to a more unified self is to love ourselves better and show more compassion to each other and heal the broken world.
Dining Review: New lounge takes a page from literature
Catcher in the Rye's theme and cocktails are more accessible than the pricey menu.
By Lisa Dupuy and Simone Dupuy
July 20, 2015 | 9:46 a.m.
My college-aged kids and I were excited to go to Catcher in the Rye, the new literary-themed restaurant and bar on the Toluca Lake-North Hollywood border. We crack up at a book I have called “Tequila Mockingbird,” containing drink recipes like “The Last of the Mojitos” and “Are you There God, It’s Me, Margarita.” Needless to say, my literature-saturated 20-year old, who’s also copy editor of the UCSB newspaper, had high hopes. She helped me write this article.
We liked a number of things about Catcher, but we also had problems. The first issue was the fact that no one in our party was the target age. Simone and Dashel (her brother) were underage — so no cocktails for them. “The parental units,” says Simone, “although as lively and beautiful as ever (thank you, dear), were too old to appreciate many of the cocktails which essentially aimed to complement liquor with something sweet enough for a 22-year old girl to enjoy.” Honestly, that’s perfect. Who are the quintessential patrons of Catcher? Recent UCLA English major grads looking for a quirky place to get tipsy in style.
And stylish it is, not to mention cozy. With volume-lined bookshelves, big tables for food or board games, and dramatic beveled glass French doors, the place gives off a modern and somewhat industrial feel while still being reminiscent of a mountain lodge. Fittingly, it feels like a writer’s sanctuary. Unfortunately, this vibe was 100 percent ruined by the loud, extremely twangy, modern country music coming through the sound system. Embarrassed as the family was when I asked the waitress to change the music, they admitted to being palpably relieved when it did. I asked for something a writer would listen to. They put on a recent Beatles release. Perfect.
My husband’s and my drinks were tasting better now and the names of them made us smile: Stay Golden Pony Boy, the Raven, Clockwork Orange and Huckleberry Finn. Where the Wild Things Are from the Summer Reading List was our favorite. Fresh watermelon, citrus, basil, mint, ginger, and tequila made a refreshing drink, especially with the spicy Tajin seasoning rim. As my daughter writes, “I’ll admit, as a 20-year old sneaking sips of my parents’ drinks, I would totally come back here in a couple years. I could easily see myself coming here with some of my hipster friends, sipping on a glass of Where the Wild Things Are as we collectively ogle the eye candy that is the waiter/bartender/struggling actor.”
After a while we got what Simone calls, “the drunchies.” Solution? We wisely ordered the Smoked Salmon Stack ($15). This dish is a deconstructed version of everything you want on a bagel, minus the bagel. Smoked salmon, avocado-goat cheese spread, capers, dill, tomatoes and red onion on endive spears. You don’t even need the carbs.
We less wisely chose the Watermelon Feta Salad ($11), a combo of arugula, cucumber, nuts, fruit and cheese as unbalanced as some of their cocktails. The 561 sliders were very tasty with brie and a tiny quail egg on each. However, three 3-inch burgers ($15) do not a family feed.
The most frustrating dish of the night was the Roasted Jalapeno Mac and Cheese. Simone writes, “The experience was probably the worst for my little brother. As a teenage male athlete, he was especially disappointed by the food portions.” (I pointed out that these are bar nibbles but at $15 a pop, that’s hard to justify.) “To me,” she continues, “$12 worth of mac and cheese means either 12 boxes of Kraft or a casserole dish overflowing with crispy-topped gooey pasta heaven. To Catcher, $12 means the taste of liquefied jalapeno Cheetos atop bow-tie pasta in a bowl manageable enough for aforementioned teenage male athlete to scoop up in one hand and stuff into his face in approximately eight seconds.” What can I say? She speaks the truth.
Come to Catcher in the Rye with your book-loving friends for a tall beer ($6) and a Smoked Salmon Stack. Stay for a read-aloud of Salinger or a game of Taboo.
What: Catcher in the Rye
Where: 10550 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake
When: Opens daily at 5 p.m.
Prices: Cocktails, $11 to $13; Food for Thought and Side Readings, $11 to $15
Contact: (818) 554-3393, catcherbar.com
Posted by Bloglapedia at 9:08 AM
Sunday, June 7, 2015
By Bob Hassett June 5
Between high school and college I read The Catcher in the Rye five times.
This was unusual for me. I don’t typically read a book more than once. There are just too many good books that I haven’t gotten to yet. But I became obsessed. In the days before the Web or even the online catalog, I would go to my college library and ferret out bound issues of The New Yorker from the 1940s and ’50s in search of uncollected Salinger stories.
So I was intrigued recently when my older son, a high school sophomore, was assigned to read Catcher for English class. I was curious to hear what he might think about it and whether it would be meaningful for him in any way similar to the way it was for me.
My experience tells me Salinger had his finger on something essential, an insight that transcends his time and place and offers a valuable perspective about the challenges of adolescence and of modernity.
Salinger is not much in favor anymore. Catcher in particular is singled out as irrelevant, the pointless rant of a disaffected adolescent who lives in extreme privilege. I find this perspective untenable, but tried not to communicate any expectations about how my son, Thomas, should feel about it. We didn’t discuss it much while he was reading it.
In a paper submitted for a seminar discussion, Thomas says that Holden “thinks everything is fake, everyone is acting like someone they aren’t, and there isn’t very much of anything in the world that is truly what it should be.”
Elsewhere, Thomas writes, “Holden has strict ideas about how society works, and he conforms his public actions to how he thinks he should act, and often not to how he actually is.”
Holden accuses a lot of people of being phonies. This is probably one of his most memorable attributes. But he’s wildly inconsistent himself. For example, he stresses that he hates movies, but seems up on current cinema and talks at length about movies he’s seen. He boasts about his seductiveness, but acknowledges that “sex is something I just don’t understand.”
But where Thomas found real traction with the book was in Holden’s sense of alienation.
“Every single person’s biggest want, hope, dream,” Thomas says, “is to be heard. To be listened to by someone else and to have their feelings validated. One of the most frustrating feelings is when you’re feeling really sad or angry about something and you try to talk to someone about it, but they aren’t listening.” As Holden says, “If somebody at least listens, it’s not too bad.”
Perhaps the only character about whom Holden has nothing bad to say is his younger sister, Phoebe. It’s only when he’s with her that he stops posturing and ruminating. “She always listens when you tell her something. And the funny part is she knows, half the time, what the hell you’re talking about,” he says.
Thomas’ assessments of the book and of Holden’s character track closely with my own. But what’s interesting is this is not how I felt about the book when I read it at his age. I was a more typical teenage reader, on one hand a literature-obsessed kid who loved the way Holden talks, but who also thought Holden’s casual disrespect for authority was funny.
There’s so much more to the book than that. What struck me when I read it again in my 30s was the extent to which Holden is devastated by the death of his brother, Allie. He tells us early in the book that, the night Allie died, Holden broke all of the windows in the garage and then spent the night there, that he’d tried to break the windows out of the family car but failed because his hands were already broken. He says later that he missed Allie’s funeral because he’d been hospitalized for his hand injury.
I hadn’t remembered it that way. I know there are other readers who have picked up on this. But the formal criticism too often ignores or makes short mention of it.
Small references occur throughout the story. Phoebe’s hair is “a little bit like Allie’s was.” His friend Jane Gallagher liked Allie. His mother has been very nervous since Allie died. Holden couldn’t stand going with his parents to visit Allie’s grave.
Beneath the swagger and the insolence, Holden is really an uncertain and sensitive teen. Thomas argues that, “Despite [his] cynicism, Holden wants deeply to be accepted by society.”
I think Thomas is right. Holden heartily wants not only to be taken seriously by the adult world but to be worthy of it. That he doesn’t know how and can’t trust anybody to guide him is both his challenge and his tragedy.
Hassett is librarian at Luther Jackson Middle School in Fairfax County.
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Posted by Bloglapedia at 1:29 PM
Thursday, May 28, 2015
I don’t care where an actor acts. It can be in summer stock, it can be over a radio, it can be over television, it can be in a goddam Broadway theatre, complete with the most fashionable, most well-fed, most sunburned-looking audience you can imagine. But I’ll tell you a terrible secret — Are you listening to me? There isn’t anyone out there who isn’t Seymour’s Fat Lady. That includes your Professor Tupper, buddy. And all his goddam cousins by the dozens. There isn’t anyone anywhere that isn’t Seymour’s Fat Lady. Don’t you know that? Don’t you know that goddam secret yet? And don’t you know — listen to me, now — don’t you know who that Fat Lady really is? … Ah, buddy. Ah, buddy. It’s Christ Himself. Christ Himself, buddy. J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
I don’t give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am - I really do - but people never notice it. People never notice anything.” J.D.Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
“An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.”J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
“God damn it, there are nice things in the world – and I mean nice things. We’re all such morons to get so sidetracked.” J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
“I think that one of these days you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there.” J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Not that anybody's interested, but I can't even sit down to a goddam meal, to this day, without first saying the Four Great Vows under my breath “However innumerable beings are, I vow to save them; however inexhaustible the passions are, I vow to extinguish them; however immeasurable the Dharmas are, I vow to master them; however incomparable the Buddha-truth is, I vow to attain it.”Salinger Franny and Zooey
“I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.” J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Ms. Antonelli’s Students Walk in the Steps of Holden Caulfield
Ms. Antonelli took her 9th grade English class to NYC to traverse the steps of the character, Holden Caulfield, from the novel, The Catcher in the Rye.
On May 6, 2015, Ms. Antonelli took two sold out buses to walk in the shoes of the main character in the novel that they are currently reading. Ms. Antonelli loves when a book can be better understood and realized through out of the classroom field trips .
Ms. Antonelli was joined by Mr. Maloney and Ms. Krom. Ms Krom brought her science club, so that they could take in all of the scientific elements of the trip.
The trip started at The Central Park Zoo, where they also viewed a 4d movie . Then they rode the carousel at Central Park . They finished with a showing of Dark Universe at the museum planetarium , and a tour of The American Museum of Natural History.
Ms. Antonelli was thrilled with the parental support ; 17 parents chaperoned this trip. It was an amazing day.
Posted by Bloglapedia at 1:02 PM