NEW YORK, NY.- The Morgan Library & Museum
will receive a gift from the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York of twenty-eight letters written by J. D. Salinger. The gift commemorates the 150th birthday of Swami Vivekananda, who brought Vedanta, the religious and philosophical teachings of India, to the West in 1893. With this generous new gift, the Morgan now holds fifty-two Salinger letters in its collection.
J. D. Salinger was deeply influenced by Vedanta and had an enduring relationship with Swami Nikhilananda, founder and spiritual leader of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York. Salinger attended services and classes at the Center in Manhattan, and at the Vivekananda Cottage retreat in New Yorks Thousand Island Park.
The gift consists of letters written by Salinger to Swami Nikhilananda, his successor Swami Adiswarananda, and to the Center, from 19672006. Numerous correspondences pertain to Salingers many donations to the Center over the course of nearly forty years, while others contain reflections on spiritual and other matters.
In a letter dated May 1, 1967, Salinger wrote of Stalins daughter, noting, It strikes me, too, that she ought to know of the existence of Thousand Island Park. On January 19, 1972, he wrote to Swami Nikhilananda of his wish that the East had deigned to concentrate some small part of its immeasurable genius to the petty art or science of keeping the body well and fit, referring to Swamis need of a wheelchair.
In addition to those letters written by Salinger, the gift also includes correspondences from the Center to Salinger, as well as several notes between the Center and Salingers wife, Colleen. In December 2010 she wrote to Swami Vidananda, with gratitude for all the joy you gave to my husband
The gift will be presented on the occasion of a free lecture at the Morgan on Friday, April 12 at 7:30pm, by Kenneth Slawenski, the author of J. D. Salinger: A Life, who will discuss this little-known side of Salingers life.
Two of the letters will be on view at the Morgan from Friday, April 12Friday, April 19.
We are deeply grateful for this generous gift from the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, said Declan Kiely, Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at the Morgan Library & Museum. The letters reveal J. D. Salingers abiding interest in Eastern religion and philosophy, and are an important addition to the Morgans growing collection of correspondence and other material related to the authors life.