le Carré, John

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

le Carré, John

John le Carré (lə kärā´), pseud. of David John Moore Cornwell, 1931–, English novelist, b. Poole, Dorset, grad. Oxford, 1956. He was a tutor at Eton College (1956–58), and subsequently worked for the British foreign service in Germany (1961–64). Le Carré's best-known novel is The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1963, film 1965), a bleak study of cold-war espionage that emphasizes the inhumanity and amorality of international intrigue; it introduced the figure of George Smiley, a British agent who is a recurring character in his works and in the two television miniseries (1979, 1982) adapted from them. His other novels include A Call for the Dead (1961), A Small Town in Germany (1968), Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974, film 2011), Smiley's People (1980), The Little Drummer Girl (1983), A Perfect Spy (1986), and The Russia House (1989), the last of his novels to explore cold-war subjects exclusively. Later novels have dealt with international finance (Single & Single, 1999), the arms trade (The Night Manager, 1999), the exploitation of the Third World by multinational corporations (The Constant Gardener, 2001), espionage, terrorism, and the Iraq war (Absolute Friends, 2003), and the nexus of multinational corporations and government in Africa (The Mission Song, 2006). In A Most Wanted Man (2008), Le Carré returned to espionage, against the background of post-9/11 Germany; in Our Kind of Traitor (2010, film 2016) he treats British and Russian espionage in a contemporary setting; and in A Delicate Truth (2013) three Britons confront their government's treachery. Two adult children of cold war victims from The Spy Who Came In from the Cold demand justice in A Legacy of Spies (2017).

See his The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life (2016); biography by A. Sisman (2015); study by P. Wolfe (1987).

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