4 December 2017

Bernard-Marie Koltès: Sallinger (1995)

Commissioned to write this in 1977 by Bruno Boëglin, Sallinger (with a double 'l') is Bernard-Marie Koltès's first written play, although it was not published until 1995, several years after his death. As the title suggests, it is heavily influenced by J. D. Salinger, and there are many similarities between this and Salinger's Franny and Zooey and Catcher in the Rye: Zooey, and Leslie in Sallinger, are both actors; some of the characteristics of Ma in Sallinger echo the mother in Franny and Zooey; the telephone call at the end of Sallinger recalls the dead brother of Franny and Zooey; more generally, there is the theme of the family; and of course the various problems of young people on the edge of adulthood, etc.

Violence is again a strong feature of Sallinger, such as Leslie's window smashing scene, and of course the suicide of Le Rouquin and later Henry killing himself by jumping from the bridge. War is of course not only in the background but also very much in the foreground, and old soldier Al (the father) gives an encouraging welcome to the Vietnam war, although the general drift of the play is well away from the perceived glory of combat and emphasises war's wastefulness, its mindless tearing apart of people's lives.

Perhaps needless to say, the themes of alienation, deracination, solitude, and lack of communication (particularly among younger people), and madness (on the part of Le Rouquin and Leslie's sister Anna) are to the fore here.

Sallinger is nowhere near as well known as the plays Quai Ouest, Dans la solitude des champs de coton, or the monoloque La Nuit juste avant les forêts, although the indications of what was to come are quite clearly in place.

My other Bernard-Marie Koltès posts:
Bernard-Marie Koltès: Une part de ma vie
Bernard-Marie Koltès: La Fuite à cheval

Bernard-Marie Koltès: Quai ouest
Bernard-Marie Koltès: La Nuit juste avant les forêts
Bernard-Marie Koltès: Dans la solitude des champs de coton | In the Solitude of Cotton Fields


Anonymous said...

This inside damage could show up many years later.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Could well be!