RBSC Statement Regarding Recent J. D. Salinger News Story

J. D. Salinger’s unpublished short story “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” has been in the news since November 27, 2013, when a copy of Three Stories (London, 1999) was sold on eBay and then scanned and uploaded without the authorization of the Salinger Literary Estate or the knowledge of the Princeton University Library.  “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” is among the typescript stories by Salinger preserved in the Archives of Story Magazine and Press (C0104), in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library. This unauthorized edition contains a typesetting of “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” and two unpublished stories at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center.

The unidentified person(s) responsible for that unauthorized edition may have used a researcher’s handwritten transcription of the story made without Princeton’s knowledge in our reading room, though it is also possible that it came from photocopies of the typescript made before 1987, when as a result of the landmark Salinger v. Random House, Inc., copyright suit, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections decided not to allow photoduplication of any work by Salinger. As part of its service to scholarship, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has long allowed researchers to read these stories under supervision in its reading room, along with the rest of Story archives. As Library staff inform all researchers, it is their responsibility to secure permission from the appropriate copyright holder in order to quote, publish, or reproduce items from Princeton collections.

The Story archives contain more than 150 linear feet of editorial and personal correspondence, business and financial records, and other materials, chiefly pertaining to Story and other related publishing ventures (1931–1967) of owner-editors Whit Burnett, Martha Foley, and Hallie Burnett. Princeton initially purchased the archives from Whit and Hallie Burnett in 1965, and gifts of additional archives came from various donors between 1969 and 1999. Among the many other authors represented in Story‘s archives are Erskine Caldwell, Truman Capote, Joseph Heller, Norman Mailer, Carson McCullers, Joyce Carol Oates, William Saroyan, and Tennessee Williams. The Story archives is one of more than 1,400 other collections in the Manuscripts Division.

Don C. Skemer
Curator of Manuscripts, RBSC

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