Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Where do you draw the line between critique or parody and outright exploitation?"

In the NYT Week in Review section today, Charles McGrath discusses the legal issues surrounding literary prequels and sequels, including the Salinger case currently on appeal to the Second Circuit:

"Mr. Salinger, who is 90 and went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in the late 1980s to stop the biographer Ian Hamilton from quoting from his work, has just won another legal battle, halting the publication of '60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,' a sequel to 'The Catcher in the Rye,' by Fredrik Colting, a Swede who for some reason writes under the name J. D. California. Most accounts of Mr. Colting’s book make it sound pretty awful: Holden Caulfield, now in his 70s and stricken with urological problems, escapes from a nursing home and reunites with his sister Phoebe, who is apparently suffering from dementia. ... But Mr. Colting’s book has nevertheless become a literary cause célèbre, with a number of legal experts ... seeking to overturn the judge’s decision. The argument is that the Colting text is 'transformative': that instead of being a mere rip-off, it adds something original and substantive to Mr. Salinger’s version."