Saturday, April 27, 2013

John Le Carre's Very British Features

British book reviewers have been praising John le Carre's new spy thriller so effusively that it was good to see a reviewer knock the novel.

Novelist Frederic Raphael reviewed le Carre's latest in the Times Literary Supplement.

John le Carré is the grand master of the low down. That he writes under a pseudonym seems emblematic of a writer who has made himself shady the better to be at home in the dark places of the world of double-dealing. His novels are those of a worldly, wise moralist whose opinions are implicit in devious plots in which good men are regularly done down or find themselves warped by force majeure.

A Delicate Truth begins “On the second floor of a characterless hotel” in Gibraltar, where “a lithe, agile man in his late fifties restlessly paced his bedroom. His very British features, though pleasant and plainly honourable, indicated a choleric nature brought to the limits of his endurance”. Hustled into identifying with a decent chap in an unpleasant spot (with a bed “big enough for six”), the reader has little time to wonder what “very British features” look like and how they can be deemed “honourable” on sight while being simultaneously engorged with rage. Despite his parading all these manifestly insular qualities, “it would not have occurred to many people, even in their most fanciful dreams, that he was a middle-ranking British civil servant, hauled from his desk in one of the more prosaic departments of Her Majesty’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to be dispatched on a top-secret mission of acute sensitivity”. That would indeed make for a fanciful dream. 

... Le Carré appends a grateful list of sources who have instructed him on today’s military-politico-plutocratic amalgam. My own contacts in MI6 are meagre, but I am promised, with some vigour, by a veteran with “very British features” that no straight diplomat would have been deputed to officiate on such a mission – which must show how little your average old hand knows (or tells) about what really, really now goes on. 

You can read the rest of the review via the below link: 

Note: Although I don't subscribe to John le Carre's leftist worldview and anti-Americanism, I'll read the novel when it come out in America and I'll publish my views here.

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