Salinger's nascent Buddhism: non-dualism, siddha and wu wei in "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut"

Author: Madigan, Andrew
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2010, vol. 36, iss. 1, pp. [155]-164
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
License: Not specified license
The Buddhistic and Taoist elements in Salinger's work have been studied by a variety of scholars (including Eugene Antonio, Dennis O'Connor, Yasuhiro Tae and Yasuhiro Takeuchi), but no one has examined "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut" in this light. My argument is that "Uncle Wiggily" is an early example of Buddhistic influence in Salinger's work. In particular, I will examine the concepts "non-dualism" (the interconnectedness of all things), "siddha" ("crazy wisdom") and "wu wei" (action without attachment). Although it's a rather unassuming story that's been overlooked by scholars, "Uncle Wiggily" should be seen as a pivotal work in the Salinger canon not only because it's an early example of his Buddhist-inflected writing, but also because it's such a profound example. The central concerns of his fictionauthority, reason, individuality, conformity, Zen, childish wisdom, silence, etc. − are all found in this text, they are embedded deeply and widely in the narrative, and they are crucial to the story and its meaning.
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