In response to:
You Can't Take It with You from the October 9, 2008 issue
To the Editors:
My mother would have been outraged to be described by Frank Kermode in The New York Review as a Communist [NYR, October 9]. She was, as I clearly stated in Nothing To Be Frightened Of, a lifelong Conservative; it was her mother who followed the path of first Moscow and then Peking. My father, for his part, might have been ruefully baffled to be set down as a Mason, when the nearest he came to apron-wearing was to be an occasional guest, with his non-Communist wife, at a Masonic dinner-dance. Less importantly, Professor Kermode maintains that a death-and-God-obsessed character in my novel Staring at the Sun is, like me, “a writer.” In fact—and in fiction—he worked in life insurance.
Frank Kermode replies:
I muddled the politics of Julian Barnes’s mother and his grandmother and overstated his father’s connection with Freemasonry. As an admirer of long standing I am particularly sorry to have irritated Mr. Barnes, and I ask his pardon for these and any other injurious suggestions he may find in my review.