The essay became a cause célèbre in British literary circles. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown , a commentator for The Independent , wrote an article  about the affair, to which Amis responded via open letter, calling Eagleton "an ideological relict ... unable to get out of bed in the morning without the dual guidance of God and Karl Marx."  Amis said the views Eagleton attributed to him as his considered opinion was in fact his spoken description of a tempting urge, in relation to the need to "raise the price" of terrorist actions. Eagleton's personal comments on Kingsley Amis prompted a further response from Kingsley's widow, the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard . Howard wrote to the Daily Telegraph , noting that for a supposed "anti-semitic homophobe", it was peculiar that the only guests at the Howard-Amis nuptials were either Jewish or gay.  As Howard explained, "Kingsley was never a racist, nor an anti-Semitic boor. Our four great friends who witnessed our wedding were three Jews and one homosexual." In a later interview, Howard added: "I have never even heard of this man Eagleton. But he seems to be a rather lethal combination of a Roman Catholic and a Marxist ... He strikes me as like a spitting cobra: if you get within his range he'll unleash some poison."  Colin Howard, Howard's homosexual brother, called Prof Eagleton "a little squirt", adding that Sir Kingsley, far from being homophobic, had extended an affectionate friendship to him and helped him come to terms with his sexuality. 
In the Sykes-Picot agreement, concluded on May 19, 1916, France and Britain divided up the Arab territories of the former Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence. In its designated sphere, it was agreed, each country shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab State or Confederation of Arab States. Under Sykes-Picot, the Syrian coast and much of modern-day Lebanon went to France; Britain would take direct control over central and southern Mesopotamia, around the Baghdad and Basra provinces. Palestine would have an international administration, as other Christian powers, namely Russia, held an interest in this region. The rest of the territory in question—a huge area including modern-day Syria, Mosul in northern Iraq, and Jordan—would have local Arab chiefs under French supervision in the north and British in the south. Also, Britain and France would retain free passage and trade in the other’s zone of influence.