How does J. D. Salinger pronounce Zooey?
October 10, 2009 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Has J.D. Salinger ever written or spoken how to pronounce the name "Zooey" in Franny and Zooey? Are there any recordings of him pronouncing it? Separately, did he create that name or is there precedence for it (whether as a nickname for Zachary or on its own, spelled the same way)?

Note, I'm not interested in pronunciation of the more common Zoe or Zoey, or of anyone, famous or otherwise, named Zooey post-Franny & Zooey (regardless of how they pronounce their name).

I'm also not interested in discussions of how it might be pronounced compared to how other similar words or names are pronounced. I'm looking for a primary source, presumably directly from Salinger.
posted by davebug to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This wikipedia entry suggests the name's pronunciation is debatable but "appears to rhyme with 'phooey'." Given that Salinger is famously reclusive (he hasn't given an interview in nearly 30 years), and strikes me as that type of author that doesn't like to overly influence others' interpretations of his work ex post facto, I doubt he's come out and given an 'official' pronunciation.

Sorry that this is kind of an anti-answer, but my best bet is that he's never given a pronunciation.
posted by axiom at 4:20 PM on October 10, 2009

The fact that one of the letters in a 2002 collection of unanswered letters to Salinger dealt with this issue also suggests that Salinger has never publicly stated what the pronunciation is.
posted by greycap at 2:11 AM on October 11, 2009

Any thoughts on part 2, did he create the (nick)name, or did it appear in literature or historical document prior to the publication of Franny & Zooey? (~1959?)
posted by davebug at 6:58 AM on October 11, 2009

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