25 January, 2021

A Spy And A Cold War Of The Spirit

In terse but lyrical prose that attained the complexity of literary fiction, John le Carre ennobled the espionage thriller with his recreation of a world of half-tones..

A Spy And A Cold War Of The Spirit

His fictional world was a shadowy one—populated by creatures living in moral and existential half-tones, a world fractured into two blocs, characterised by double dealings and double crosses, by betrayals and sacrificing colleagues, lives led under unbelievable stress with no margin for error, a world lit up by spurts of sudden violence. He inhabited that world once. John le Carre, the spy-turned-novelist whose elegant, intricate narratives defined the Cold War espionage thriller and ennobled the genre, has died at 89 in Cornwall, England. In classics such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy, le Carre combined terse but lyrical prose with the kind of complexity expected in literary fiction. His books grappled with betrayal, moral compromise and the psychological toll of a secret life. In the quiet, watchful spymaster George Smiley, he created one of 20th-­century fiction’s iconic characters—a decent man at the heart of a web of deceit. For le Carre, the world of espionage was a...



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