Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, John Le Carre

"We have learned in recent years to translate almost all of political life in terms of conspiracy. And the spy novel, as never before, really, has come into its own."

So wrote John Le Carre, who was born on this day in 1931. He is celebrated for a series of espionage novels, most notably those about George Smiley, an intelligence officer working for MI6. Smiley is the central character of Le Carre's breakthrough novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD.

On LeCarre's stylish website, he writes of his isolation--"I live on a Cornish cliff"--and of the fact that the author is always in a precarious position, in that his imagination creates a world that the public believes in, and this makes the author a fake:

"Yet I . . . despise myself in the fake role of guru, since it bears no relation to who I am or what I do. Artists, in my experience, have very little centre. They fake. They are not the real thing. They are spies. I am no exception."

Photo: my own spies in 2000.

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