Book Review: T. Pardy, The Bowdlerized Catcher in the Rye

A review of “The Bowdlerized Catcher in the Rye,” wherein numerous offensive expressions in the original are replaced.

T. Pardy: The Bowdlerized Catcher in the Rye

Tumbleweed Books, 2023 – Hardcover, 214 pages, $ 16.95

Ever since J.D. Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, the famous novel has been banned in countless libraries and schools all over the planet, particularly in the USA. It was therefore only a question of time until someone would hit upon the idea of bowdlerizing the book.

Bowdlerized Catcher in the RyeIn the title T. Pardy clearly alludes to the great English philanthropist Thomas Bowdler himself who in 1807 published the first edition of The family Shakspeare [sic] in which nothing is added to the original Text but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a Family.

Since there are numerous offensive and vulgar expressions in Salinger’s novel, T. Pardy had a hell of a job to replace them by decent ones. Here are some typical examples.

In chapter 1 “that David Copperfield kind of crap” is replaced by “storytelling brought to perfection by Charles Dickens in his famous novel David Copperfield“.

In chapter 2 one reads, “… old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty old bathrobe that he was probably born in or something.” This is substituted by “… Mr. Spencer, well advanced in years, was wearing a somewhat worn out bathrobe he had presumably been given on the day that he was born.”

In chapter 12 Holden Caulfield meets Horwitz, an irascible taxi driver.  When Holden invites him to a drink, Horwitz answers, “I ain’t got no time for no liquor, bud.” This coarse wording, which is also grammatically incorrect, is replaced by “I fear I do not at present have the time for consuming any alcoholic beverages, my friend.”

Towards the end of chapter 17 Holden eventually says to Sally Hayes, “You give me a royal pain in the ass.” This utterly profane metaphorical expression is replaced by “I am afraid I do not presently enjoy your company.”

While these changes appear to be entirely justifiable, there are at times alterations which may cause concern. A case in point can be found in chapter 25 where Holden tries to rub out the f-word on the wall of Phoebe’s school. It remains perhaps doubtful whether this obscenity could actually be substituted by “Hi there!”.

However, all in all it stands to reason that even Salinger himself would quite possibly have preferred T. Pardy’s version of The Catcher in the Rye to his own original one.

Bernd Wahlbrinck