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John le Carré

le Carré, John (lə kärāˈ) [key], 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, the 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 the subject of spying against the background of post-9/11 Germany. In the suspenseful Our Kind of Traitor (2010) he once again treats the theme of British and Russian espionage, in a contemporary setting. In A Delicate Truth (2013), three Britons confront their own government's treachery.

See study by P. Wolfe (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


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