Wednesday, December 12, 2007

John le Carré

the below, found [here]

John le Carré is the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born October 19, 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), an English writer of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than forty years.

Early life and career

The son of Richard Thomas Archibald Cornwell (1906–75) and Olive (Gassy) Cornwell, John le Carré was born on October 19, 1931. The actress Charlotte Cornwell is his sister. He began his formal schooling at St. Andrew's preparatory school near Pangbourne, Berkshire, and continued at Sherborne School. From 1948–49, he studied foreign languages at the University of Berne, then studied at Lincoln College, Oxford. He graduated with a B.A. (with honours) in 1956. He then taught at Eton College for two years; le Carré left Eton in 1959 to spend the next five years working for the British Foreign Service. He initially served as the Second Secretary in the British Embassy in Bonn, but eventually was transferred to Hamburg for service as a political consul; ultimately, le Carré was recruited into MI6. He wrote his first novel in 1961, while still a member of the service.

Le Carré's career as a secret agent was destroyed by Kim Philby, a British double agent, who blew the cover of dozens of British agents to the KGB, David Cornwell being among them. Years later, le Carré carefully depicted and analysed Philby's weakness and deceit in the guise of "Gerald", the mole hunted by George Smiley in the central novel of le Carré's work, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Then followed the revelation that fictional spymaster George Smiley was modelled on former Lincoln College, Oxford rector Vivian H. H. Green.

In 1954, he married Alison Ann Veronica Sharp; they had three sons, Simon, Stephen and Timothy. They divorced in 1971. In 1972, he married Valérie Jane Eustace, a book editor with Hodder & Stoughton; this marriage produced one son, Nicholas.

[edit] As an author

Nearly all of le Carré's novels fall in the spy-thriller genre, with a particular emphasis on the Cold War. A notable exception is The Naïve and Sentimental Lover. This novel has autobiographical elements as it is based on the author's relationship with James and Susan Kennaway following the breakdown of le Carré's first marriage.

His first two novels, A Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality, closely follow the mystery fiction approach, where the emphasis is on a complex riddle that hero George Smiley must solve. In later, longer works, such as The Honourable Schoolboy and The Night Manager, le Carré approaches his material more as novelist and less as a mystery writer, focusing on the in-depth development of his characters.

Le Carré's work is in many ways a critical and reasoned response to the lurid sensationalism of the James Bond genre of spy writing. His heroes are three-dimensional, their engagement with the world more realistic, and their circumstances markedly unglamorous. There is little of the 'action thriller' in his stories, no martial arts or high-tech gadgetry; the drama comes primarily in the intensive mental activity of his protagonists. In some novels, such as A Small Town in Germany, almost the entire story unfolds in the form of dialogue between the major characters. Le Carré is widely hailed as writing some of the most literary and philosophically significant genre fiction of the 20th century.

His works also differ from the Bond books in that they are morally complex; there are constant reminders of the fallibility of western espionage systems and western countries in general, often with the implication that the Soviet bloc and the NATO bloc are essentially two sides of the same coin. The simplicity of the good-versus-SMERSH or SPECTRE world of Ian Fleming has no place in le Carré's work, where the spies seem to serve espionage more than any ideology. Le Carré is more interested in the uncertainty inherent in spycraft—the most unimpeachable information from the enemy might always prove to be bait or a trap, a logic that tends to render the information obtained far less useful. In short, his books leave behind an unmistakable air of scepticism.

A Perfect Spy, le Carré's most autobiographical novel, deals with the author's peculiar relationship with his father. Lynndianne Beene, the author of a biography of le Carré, describes Richard Cornwell as 'an epic con man of little education, immense charm, extravagant tastes, but no social values' (John le Carré, p. 2). Beene quotes le Carré's reflection on the novel that 'writing A Perfect Spy is probably what a very wise shrink would have advised' (p 14).

[edit] Film and television

In 1965, Martin Ritt directed the first film adaptation of a le Carré novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Richard Burton was cast as the novel's protagonist, Alec Leamas. The following year, Sidney Lumet directed The Deadly Affair, a film adaptation of le Carré's novel Call for the Dead. In 1969, Frank Pierson directed a film adaptation of The Looking Glass War.

In 1979, the BBC adapted the first novel in the Quest for Karla trilogy, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, into a television miniseries in which Alec Guinness starred as George Smiley. On the DVD release, le Carré says this was his favourite filmed adaptation of his work. Three years later, Alec Guinness reprised his role in a BBC adaptation of the final book in the trilogy, Smiley's People.

The middle novel, The Honourable Schoolboy, a story that focuses on Jerry Westerby (played by Joss Ackland in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"), was never adapted for television as the BBC considered the costs of mounting a production in South East Asia to be prohibitive.

In 1984, Diane Keaton appeared in an adaptation of The Little Drummer Girl. Three years later, A Perfect Spy was adapted into a television miniseries. In 1990, Sean Connery was cast as the protagonist in Fred Schepisi's film adaptation of The Russia House. The following year, A Murder of Quality was adapted by Gavin Millar for television. In 2001, Pierce Brosnan, the contemporary Bond, was cast as the lead spy in The Tailor of Panama.

In 2005, the film The Constant Gardener was released, based on his novel. The story is set in slums in Kibera and Loiyangalani, Kenya. The situation affected the crew to the extent that they set up the Constant Gardener Trust in order to provide basic education around these villages. Le Carré is a patron of the charity.

[edit] Politics and honours

Le Carré published an essay entitled "The United States has gone mad" in The Times in January 2003, protesting the war in Iraq, saying: "How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history." He has turned down a number of awards, including a knighthood. He is the author of a testimonial in The Future of the NHS (2006) (ISBN 1858113695) edited by Dr. Michelle Tempest.

He has had a long-running feud with the author Salman Rushdie, arguing that the publication of Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, as an affront to Muslim sensibilities, predictably put Rushdie and other people connected with the publication in danger. Rushdie in turn accused le Carré of misunderstanding his work and siding with those who imposed a fatwa on him,


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