From John Le Carre's Smiley's People:

To forget the hurts, the list of lovers; to forget Bill Haydon, the Circus traitor, whose shadow still fell across her face each time he reached for her, whose memory he carried in him like a constant pain. Bill his friend, Bill the flower of their generation, the jester, the enchanter, the iconoclastic conformer; Bill the born deceiver, whose quest for the ultimate betrayal led him into the Russians’ bed, and Ann’s. To stage yet another honeymoon, fly away to the South of France, eat the meals, buy the clothes, all the let’s pretend that lovers play. And for how long? How long before her smile faded and her eyes grew dull and those mythical relations started needing her to cure their mythical ailments in far-off places?

Does that mean the idealized relationship couldn't last unless she solved realistic issues?

1 Answer 1


It means she will start inventing excuses to leave him for a few days. She will pretend that some mythical relative in some distant place is ill, and that she therefore needs to go away for a few days to look after that relative: to cure that imaginary relative's mythical ailments. In reality, however, she is just bored with her current partner and wants to spend some time away from him, in the company of some other man.

  • Might be helpful to note that she's using "mythical" here for "fictitious," adopting the popular definition, rather than "mythical" meaning embodying or relating to a myth.
    – cmw
    Commented May 23 at 14:30

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