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Reconsidering the concept of therapeutic landscapes in J D Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye

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Researchers usually examine therapeutic landscapes, spaces that have or are felt to have healing properties, in positive terms. We reconsider the therapeutic landscape notion by applying it to J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. The main character, Holden Caulfield, is sickened by his transition between childhood and adulthood, and he relies on therapeutic landscapes as an imaginary escape. Yet his therapeutic landscapes are oversimplified and unrealistic. Through examples from Holden's experiences, we explore therapeutic landscapes as ambivalent, nuanced spaces. We argue that therapeutic landscapes should be considered beyond exceptional cases, in everyday experience.

Keywords: ambivalence; childhood; fiction; imagined geographies; therapeutic landscapes; transition

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YB, Email: 2: Departmen of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London, London E1 4NS

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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