Questions tagged [smileys-people]

Questions about the 1979 novel by John le Carré. Use alongside the corresponding author tag.

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4 votes
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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, ...
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6 votes
2 answers
111 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 ...
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4 votes
2 answers
750 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
92 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 ...
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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-...
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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 ...
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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. ...
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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?
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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 ...
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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: "...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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