le Carré, John

le Carré, John lə kärāˈ [key], pseud. of David John Moore Cornwell, 1931–2020, English novelist. He was a tutor at Eton College (1956–58), and subsequently worked for the British foreign service in Germany (1961–64), running agents for the secret intelligence service MI6. 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 its inhumanity and amorality; it introduced the figure of George Smiley, a British agent who is a recurring character in many of his works and in the two television miniseries (1979, 1982) adapted from them. Subsequent 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 treated British and Russian espionage in a contemporary setting; in A Delicate Truth (2013), three Britons confront their government's treachery; and in Agent Running in the Field (2019), disgust with Brexit tinges a contemporary spy thriller. 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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