Der er få af de “store romaner”, jeg har pligtlæst i skolen og gymnasiet, jeg rent faktisk husker som gode. Sammen med Paul Austers New York Trilogy er den her nok faktisk den eneste. Jeg husker dog ikke særligt godt, hvad vi rent faktisk snakkede om, når vi hver gang til engelsktimerne havde læst endnu et par kapitler, og skulle gennemgå og fortolke dem efter alle kunstens regler.
Så det var en oplagt bog at genlæse. Og der er vitterlig nok at snakke om. Man kan levende forestille sig, at bogen har skabt røre da den udkom, om end den danske titel Forbandede Ungdom nok er at betegne som falsk varedeklaration.
For Holden Caulfield, bogens karakteristiske protagonist, er faktisk ikke særligt “forbandet” – snarere bare småirriterende og lidt ugidelig. Men han er fortælleren, så det er svært ikke at prøve at forstå ham, og da bogen faktisk er ufattelig velskrevet (når man lige har vænnet sig til 50’er-sproget), er det en interessant opgave. Men ikke nem, for Holden punkterer som fortæller hele tiden sin historie med små afstikkere og pubertære rants, tit i form af nedladende kommentarer om de personer, han beskriver. Som her:
“I’d only read about three pages, though, when I heard somebody coming through the shower curtains. Even without looking up, I knew right away who it was. It was Robert Ackley, this guy that roomed right next to me. There was a shower right between every two rooms in our wing, and about eighty-five times a day old Ackley barged in on me. He was probably the only guy in the whole dorm, besides me, that wasn’t down at the game. He hardly ever went anywhere. He was a very peculiar guy. He was a senior, and he’d been at Pencey the whole four years and all, but nobody ever called him anything except “Ackley.” Not even Herb Gale, his own roommate, ever called him “Bob” or even “Ack.” If he ever gets married, his own wife’ll probably call him “Ackley.” He was one of these very, very tall, round-shouldered guys-he was about six four-with lousy teeth. The whole time he roomed next to me, I never even once saw him brush his teeth. They always looked mossy and awful, and he damn near made you sick if you saw him in the dining room with his mouth full of mashed potatoes and peas or something. Besides that, he had a lot of pimples. Not just on his forehead or his chin, like most guys, but all over his whole face. And not only that, he had a terrible personality. He was also sort of a nasty guy. I wasn’t too crazy about him, to tell you the truth.”
Efterhånden som man læser sig igennem hans beretning begynder man dog at få mere sympati for Holden, synes jeg. Ikke fordi han eller historien bliver mere sympatisk, men mere fordi han jo egentlig bare er forvirret, usikker og bange for livet (hvor man dog egentlig selv lyder gammel, når man skriver sådan, i øvrigt…), men alligevel forsøger at fortælle sin historie så casual som muligt.
Historien bliver på den måde et portræt af en ung mand, der ikke rigtigt ved hvad han vil. Og i øvrigt heller ikke rigtigt kan tage sig sammen til at gøre de få ting, han dog ved, han har lyst til. Det er et tidligt portræt af ungdomssløvsind, kan man sige. Og et godt et af slagsen.
Siden jeg har googlet mig frem til citaterne online, så jeg ikke skal sidde og skrive dem ind selv, kommer her endnu et. Her beretter Holden, hvad han synes om bibelen:
“Finally, though, I got undressed and got in bed. I felt like praying or something, when I was in bed, but I couldn’t do it. I can’t always pray when I feel like it. In the first place, I’m sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, If you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was still alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better that the Disciples. If you want to know the truth, the guy I like the best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was the lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the Disciples, that poor bastard. I used to get in quite a few arguments about it, when I was at the Whooton School, with this boy that lived down the corridor, Arthur Childs. Old Childs was a Quaker and all, and he read the Bible all the time. He was a very nice kid, and I liked him, but I could never see eye to eye with him on a lot of stuff in the Bible, expecially the Disciples. He kept telling me that if I didn’t like the Disciples, then I didn’t like Jesus and all. He said that because Jesus picked the Disciples, you were supposed to like them. I said I knew He picked them, but that He picked them at random. I said He didn’t have time to go around analyzing everybody. I sad I wasn’t blaming Jesus or anything. It wasn’t his fault that He didn’t have any time. I remember I asked old Childs if he thought Judas, the one that betrayed Jesus and all, went to Hell after he committed suicide. Childs said certainly. That’s exactly where I disagreed with him. I said I’d bet a thousand bucks that Jesus never sent old Judas to Hell. I still would, too, if I had a thousand bucks.”
Fantastisk. Jeg bilder mig også ind, at man sagtens kan se at bogen har haft indflydelse på meget senere literatur, men det er nok at tage munden for fuld alligevel. I virkeligheden er det sikkert bare fordi, jeg synes den var ret så god.