'Three Stories': Unpublished J.D. Salinger stories leak online, reports say

(CNN) -- Literary circles were abuzz after three previously unpublished short stories by American author J.D. Salinger showed up on the Internet this week.

The reported works by the reclusive writer of "The Catcher in the Rye" appeared numerous places online, including upload sites Imgur and MediaFire. They were previously only available for academic study.

The 41-page album is simply called "Three Stories." It contains these offerings: "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," "Birthday Boy" and "Paula."

So, could this be legit? Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin says yes.

"I've never read "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls": It's part of a collection of Salinger material at the Princeton University library and available only to scholars who are supervised as they read," he said in the online edition of the paper. "I have read the other two stories, however, at the University of Texas' Ransom Center, and the versions of them in 'Three Stories' are the real deal."

Another affirmation comes from Salinger scholar Kenneth Slawenski, author of "J.D. Salinger: A Life," who talked with BuzzFeed.

"While I do quibble with the ethics (or lack of ethics) in posting the Salinger stories, they look to be true transcripts of the originals and match my own copies," Slawenski told BuzzFeed in an e-mail.

Princeton had it's own theories on how the stories could have made it to the public.

"The story is probably an unauthorized version transcribed longhand in our reading room," said Martin Mbugua, a Princeton spokesman. "It's also possible that it came from photocopies of the typescript probably made before the mid-1980s when we decided that we would no longer allow photo-duplication for any work by Salinger."

But several reports point to a September auction on eBay of "Three Stories UNPUBLISHED JD Salinger (catcher in the rye) First Edition" which went for about $110, as the source of the online material. The pages were scanned and uploaded, the reports suggest.

A photo included with the listing says it was first printed in London in 1999 and identifies it as copy number six out of 25 numbered copies.

Ironically, the page also says: "The three stories in this book remain unpublished and locked by J. D. Salinger for publishing."

Salinger was known to fiercely guard his writings and only allowed a relatively small number to be published before his death in 2010 at age 91.

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