Questions tagged [john-le-carre]

Questions about the works of John le Carre (1931-2020) or his life as a writer. Le Carré is the pen name of David John Moore Cornwell. The British author is best known for his George Smiley espionage novels such as *Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy* (1974) and *The Spy who Came in from the Cold* (1963).

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
4 votes
0 answers
42 views

Why did Smiley think of death here?

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: “Fine, thank you. How’s—” He struggled without success to remember the name of Lacon’s wife. “Abandoned me, dammit. Ran off with her pesky riding instructor, ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
105 views

What does "an Atlantic man" mean?

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: “Yes, yes, it is still Saul Enderby, your old adversary, and he is doing marvels,” Lacon retorted impatiently. Pulling at the curtain, he unseated it from its ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
748 views

Meaning of "It is the ego, demanding its feed" in "Smiley's People"

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: I need you, thought Smiley, watching him gyrate. I love you, I hate you, I need you. Such apocalyptic statements reminded him of Ann when she had run out of ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
43 views

What do "religious light" and "youthful features cruelly aged" mean?

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: He was a mawkish creature, sudden but without spring, with youthful features cruelly aged and a raw unhealthy rash around his neck where his shirt had scuffed ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
91 views

What do "the vertical man" and "the horizontal one" mean?

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: Lacon, Strickland, Mostyn, thought Smiley as Strickland’s Aberdonian brogue hammered on. One Cabinet Office factotum, one Circus fixer, one scared boy. Why not ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
51 views

Does this allude to MacArthur's words?

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: But safe flats, unlike old generals, never die, he thought. They don’t even fade away. Does that allude to MacArthur's famous words "Old soldiers never die-...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
62 views

Why did the Superintendent compare Smiley to an abbey?

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: An abbey, the Superintendent decided. That’s what he was, an abbey. He would work that into his sermon the next time his turn came around. An abbey, made up of ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
4k views

What does "Funnies" refer to?

From John Le Carre's Smiley's People: “The best I ever met,” old Mendel, the Superintendent’s onetime superior, had told him over a friendly pint not long ago. Mendel was retired now, like Smiley. ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
217 views

What does the 'people' in the title Smiley's People refer to?

In the John Le Carre novel Smiley's People, does "people" mean Smiley's friends, colleagues, or subordinates? Or does it also include people Smiley dealt with in espionage?
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
552 views

Does this allude to Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant?

From John Le Carre's Smiley's People They stood side by side in an avenue of beeches and the Superintendent was taller by a head: a young giant of a man, prematurely grizzled, a little pompous ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
116 views

What does "hung an entire history on him" mean?

From John Le Carre's Smiley's People: At a crucial moment, an unknown man turned round and looked at me and I hung an entire history on him, even imagining he was my dying father. Background: "...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
392 views

Connection between Hamburg and Opitz

Taken from Le Carre's Smiley's People: The only link to Hamburg he might have pleaded—if he had afterwards attempted the connection, which he did not—was in the Parnassian field of German baroque ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
100 views

What does operatic conspiracy mean?

From Le Carre's Smiley's People: And when she opened the door to him, he slipped past her like a shadow: a little hobgoblin of a fellow, in a black overcoat with velvet tabs on the collar, giving him ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
127 views

Does "State Security" have a specific meaning or is it just a generic name?

This sentence was taken from Le Carre's novel Smiley's People: As a condition of your application being favourably considered by the authorities, you signed an undertaking to the organs of State ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the supposed cover story in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"?

Spoilers for John Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. In this novel, Percy Alleline has become the director of “the Circus”, a fictional British intelligence service. Alleline and the department ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 56.1k
16 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why did John le Carré choose that particular (French) pseudonym?

The former MI5 and MI6 agent David John Moore Cornwell used the name John le Carré on his numerous spy novels. Wikipedia explains why he had to write under a pseudonym: he wrote the detective story ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.6k
19 votes
1 answer
4k views

What do these espionage tradecraft phrases from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy mean?

When Ricky Tarr is recounting his story to George Smiley, he speculates that Boris -- a Russian spy working undercover as a trade delegate -- was "waiting for a connect, working a letterbox, maybe, or ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 704