John le Carré, author of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, dies at the age of 89 John le Carré


At the age of 89, John le Carré passed away, forging excitements from equal parts of adventure, moral courage and a literary sense.

Le Carré has explored the gap between the high-profile rhetoric of the West and the harsh reality of defense in novels like The Cold Spy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Night Manager, which sparked critical acclaim and recognition from it. made it a bestseller around the world.

On Sunday, his family confirmed he died of pneumonia on Saturday night at Royal Cornwall Hospital. “We are all deeply saddened by his passing,” they wrote in a statement.

He was described by his old agent, Jonny Geller, as “the undisputed giant of English literature”. He defined the era of the Cold War and fearlessly told the truth to the power for decades to come … I lost a mentor, an inspiration, and most importantly, a friend. We will not see anything like it again.

His companions lined up in salute. Stephen King wrote, “This terrible year has demanded a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit.” According to Robert Harris, the news “was very distracting… one of the great British novelists after the war and an unforgettable, unique character”. Adrian McKinty described Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as “simply the greatest spy novel ever written,” while historian Simon Sebag Montefiore called him a titan of English literature upstairs with the big ones … personally, captivating, so kind and generous to me and much more. “

Born in 1931 as David Cornwell, Le Carré began working in the secret services while studying German in Switzerland in the late 1940s. After teaching in Eton, he joined the British Foreign Office as an intelligence officer, recruiting, running and caring for spies behind the Iron Curtain from the back office of the MI5 building on Curzon Street in London. Inspired by novelist John Bingham, MI5’s colleague John le Carré began publishing a thriller under the pseudonym – even though his publisher advised choosing two Anglo-Saxon monosyllabics, such as “Chunk-Smith”.

A spy modeled on Bingham who is “breathtakingly ordinary … low, fat and quiet-minded,” he surpasses an East German agent in Le Carré’s 1961 debut, Call for the Dead, which features his most enduring character, George Smiley. first appearance. . In the second novel, The 1962 Murder of Quality, Smiley investigated a murder at a public school and was rated positively. (“Very complex, high quality,” the observer concluded.) But a year later, with the release of his third thriller, Le Carré’s career rose to a whole new level.

Alec Guinness, spy of John Le Carre, George Smiley.
Alec Guinness as Le Carré’s spy, George Smiley. Photo: made from gallery

Smiley is just a minor figure of the spy who came in from the Cold, but the story of the mission to confront East German intelligence is full of world-weary cynicism. According to Alec Leamas, the brainstorming agent sent to East Berlin, spies are just “a miserable parade of vain fools, traitors, yes; pansies, sadists and drunks, people who play cowboy and Indians to explore their rotten lives ”. Graham Greene hailed it as “the best spy story I’ve ever read”.

According to Le Carré, the runaway success of the novel was initially amazed and then mixed with conflict. His manuscript was approved by the secret service because “it was mere fiction from start to finish,” he explained in 2013, and so could not constitute a breach of security. – However, the world press did not take this position, which unanimously decided that the book was not merely authentic, but some kind of revelatory message from the other side, so all I had to do was sit and watch closely, frozen in fear as the bestseller climbed up. list and stuck there while the expert after the expert proclaimed the real thing.

Smiley focused on three novels, Le Carré, published in the 1970s, and introduced the competition to the British agent and Soviet nemesis, Carla, from the portal. Tinker Tailor unveils a mole in Soldier Spy at the highest levels of the British Secret Service, while in Honorary School he goes after an Asian money laundering operation before dismantling Karla’s Swiss ties with Smiley’s People. The worlds of “ferrets” and “lighters”, “wrestlers” and “walkers” were so convincingly attracted that former colleagues of MI5 and MI6 began to accept Le Carré’s fictional jargon as their own.

As soon as the Cold War was over, friends stopped him on the street and asked, “What are you writing now?” But Le Carré’s concerns were always broader than the East-West confrontation, and he had little patience for the idea that the fall of the Berlin Wall meant any end to either history or espionage that smeared its mechanisms. He was involved in the arms trade in 1993 with The Night Manager, in 2001 with the large pharmaceutical factory at the Permanent Gardener, and in 2004 with the War of Terror with the Absolute Friends.

Meanwhile, the continuous process of his creations went from side to side. The actors, including Richard Burton, Alec Guinness, Ralph Fiennes and Gary Oldman, enjoyed the delicacies of his character even as audiences applauded the dexterity of his intrigue.

Le Carré last returned to Smiley in 2017, closing the scope of his career in The Legacy of Spies, which revisits the dismantled operation at the heart of the novel that bears his name. Writing in the Guardian, John Banville hailed his ingenuity and dexterity, stating that “not since Spy Le Carré has practiced his gift so powerfully and so excitingly as a storyteller”.

After being painted as a shady, mysterious figure for decades, mainly due to his disinterest in the public or joining the festival circle, Le Carré surprised the world in 2016 with the publication of a memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel. Le Carré detailed the abusive relationship between the abuser, Conman’s father and lonely upbringing, after his mother left the age of five. Le Carré detailed the strange life of a spy author asked for lunch by Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch. He spent four decades in Cornwall, married twice, and raised a son, Nicholas, who himself wrote novels called Nick Harkaway, convinced Le Carré, “I was neither a model husband nor a model father, and I don’t care how you appear. “

His consistent love of life was writing, “scribbled like a man hiding at a changeable counter”.

“I once knew from the secret world that I was trying to make theater for the bigger worlds where we live,” he wrote. “First the imagination comes and then the search for reality. Then back to the imagination and the desk where I am sitting now.