Updike and the Scholes

Subject: Updike and the Scholes
From: Paul Miller (phm@midsouth.rr.com)
Date: Sun Apr 02 2000 - 10:02:52 EDT

This is an old reply to Updike's review of F&Z sent to the editor at the NY
Times back in 61. Mr. Updike answers it as well. I have read Updike's
original review of F&Z, but had not seen this exchange so thought some of
you may not have seen it.

October 8, 1961
Letters to the Editor
o the Editor: Please allow us to correct some of the misstatements of fact
and misleading implications in John Updike's review of "Franny and Zooey" by
J.D. Salinger.
The first Glass story was neither "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" (as
Mr. Updike calls it on page 1) nor "Hoist High the Roof Beam, Carpenters"
(as he calls it on page 52) but "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," which
appeared in The New Yorker in 1948 and was later collected in "Nine

Mr. Updike says on page 1 that "Franny never mentions any brothers." On page
28 of "Franny and Zooey" Franny says, "It was just that I would've been
ashamed if, say, anybody I respected -- my brothers for example - - came and
heard me deliver some of the lines I had to say." This is important because
in "Zooey" it develops that Zooey and Buddy had been at one of her
performances and had heard her with approval and admiration.

Mr. Updike implies on page 1 that Mr. Salinger carelessly allows two
versions of Franny's acquisition of her little religious book to stand in
the two stories. But it is made perfectly clear in "Zooey" (100, 101) that
she did not tell Lane Coutell the truth; indeed, who would expect Franny to
have told the insensitive Coutell the truth in the first place? Her lie in
"Franny" is quite in keeping with her other furtive attempts to keep the
true nature of her spiritual crisis from her date.

We make no attempt to quarrel here with Mr. Updike's hostile critical
appraisal of "Franny and Zooey." But we ask in all sincerity whether so many
obvious errors in such a short review do not cast serious doubts on Mr.
Updike's thoroughness and critical balance.

Joan and Robert Scholes
Charlottesville, Va.