Sunday, December 13, 2020

John le Carré: R.I.P.

Such sad news. John le Carré was one of my favorite authors. He will be missed.

From the New York Times:

John le Carré, whose exquisitely nuanced, intricately plotted Cold War thrillers elevated the spy novel to high art by presenting both Western and Soviet spies as morally compromised cogs in a rotten system full of treachery, betrayal and personal tragedy, died on Saturday in Cornwall, England. He was 89.

His death was confirmed on Sunday by his literary agency, the Curtis Brown Group.

Before Mr. le Carré published his bestselling 1963 novel The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which Graham Green called “the best spy story I have ever read,” the fictional model for the modern British spy was Ian Fleming’s James Bond — suave, urbane, devoted to queen and country. With his impeccable talent for getting out of trouble while getting women into bed, Bond fed the myth of spying as a glamorous, exciting romp.

Mr. Le Carré — the pen name of David Cornwell — upended that notion with books that portrayed British intelligence operations as cesspools of ambiguity in which right and wrong are too close to call and in which it is rarely obvious whether the ends, even if the ends are clear, justify the means.

Led by his greatest creation, the plump, ill-dressed, unhappy, brilliant, relentless George Smiley, Mr. le Carré’s spies are lonely, disillusioned men whose work is driven by budget troubles, bureaucratic power plays and the opaque machinations of politicians — men who are as likely to be betrayed by colleagues and lovers as by the enemy. 


Read the New York Times obituary here:

Read The Guardian Obit here.

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