Tuesday, September 10, 2013

John Le Carre: A Painfully Dated Figure With The Political Views Of A Cartoonist

David Blair at the British newspaper the Telegraph sticks a pin in the puffed-up ego of thriller writer John le Carre.

For a man often described as “reclusive”, John le Carré is remarkably generous with his opinions. Five decades after publishing The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, he has commanded a platform at the Hay Festival and allowed the Financial Times to fill its Weekend Magazine with his “wisdom” (yes, that was the actual word).

Le Carré invariably receives deference of a kind that scarcely anyone else in public life can expect. The FT’s article by a lawyer called Philippe Sands, who is also le Carré’s friend and Hampstead neighbour, was a masterpiece of this genre, hailing its subject as “entertaining, serious, politically engaged, active and self-deprecating."

If this were only about le Carré’s novels, few would object. The market provides the ultimate test for an author and le Carré’s record speaks for itself: 23 bestsellers, eight of them turned into films.

But the interviews are not primarily about le Carré’s books. They present him as a contemporary prophet, full of wisdom and insight about real events. And that is where I respectfully suggest that le Carré disappoints. 

It is not simply his habit of portentously announcing that he is giving his “last interview” (there have been at least three “last interviews” since 2010 – one of which occurred 48 hours before his appearance at Hay). Nor is it the obvious self-importance of the silvery fox-like figure, who is generally presented as prowling his Cornish cliff-top or the salons of Hampstead, filled with anguish about the world.

No, it is the glaring contradiction between the nuance and moral complexity of a le Carré novel and the jarring simplicity of his views, however sonorously he might express them.

Thus le Carré declares that George W Bush ran not an administration but a “junta”. The Atlantic Alliance demands Britain’s conformity with “every American whim”. There “seems to be no limit” to the liberties that “Americans” will sacrifice in the “catch-all name of counter-terror”.

As for the issue of the day, le Carré thinks that a military strike on Syria would be “sheer insanity”. Our MPs are denounced as “third rate” – until they vote his way on Syria, whereupon they leap to the opposite extreme and make him “proud of the House of Commons”.

You can read the rest of the piece via th below link:


Note: I used to enjoy John le Carre's spy thrillers, although I don't subscribe to his worldview. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a great thriller. But his more recent novels are bogged down with his anti-Americanism and other leftist views.  

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