Sunday, April 21, 2013

"[…] where anything is permitted but nothing is admissible." — Allan Massie, in The Telegraph

From: The Telegraph

"Opening a new [John] Le Carré novel is like stepping into a hushed and well-appointed London club. The tone is English and metropolitan, the mood sombre but enthralling, even intimidating. As readers, we have to be on our mettle, but we also know we'll be well cared for by a silver-haired major-domo who has already chalked up more than half a century of dedicated service.
     It's exactly 50 years since a young Foreign Office official, and sometime spy, named David Cornwell woke up to find his alter ego, John le Carré, internationally famous with the publication of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Macmillan was PM; the cold war with the Soviet Union as dark and bleak as ever. In 1963, the novel of espionage seemed the perfect instrument for examining the soul of a post-imperial society.
     Then came George Smiley's finest hour, a sequence of novels that elevated the spy thriller to an art form – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, Smiley's People. Few English writers of the late 20th century produced fiction to match the Le Carré of these titles."
— Robert McCrum, The Guardian
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"'The State is a concept based on the power principle and a denial of responsibility. It is thus itself criminal… Its own blacker evils are hidden under a veil of hypocrisy, whitewashed by propaganda, and, when laid bare, covered by the raison d’état, a term stretched to enrobe the basest ignominy.'
     This judgment was delivered by that fine novelist, Nicholas Freeling, in an essay on Stendhal. It is equally relevant to the great body of John le Carré’s work and to his new novel, A Delicate Truth.
     Le Carré makes the conventional division between genre and the literary novel obsolete. It was always ridiculous, at least inasmuch as it carried the suggestion that the genre novel – crime or espionage – was necessarily inferior to the literary one. The Heart of Midlothian is a crime novel. So is Bleak House. Likewise, The Secret Agent, The Quiet American and every one of le Carré’s 23 novels. Crime is at the heart of all of them.
     If we commonly make a distinction between the crime novel and the spy novel, it is only because we tend to think of crime as belonging to the sphere of private life, and we airbrush the criminality of state action out of view and mind."
— Allan Massie, The Telegraph
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Buy all of John Le Carré's books here...

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