john le carre quotes


The creation of George Smiley, the retired spy recalled to hunt for just such a high-ranking mole in 'Tinker, Tailor,' was extremely personal. I borrowed elements of people I admired and invested them in this mythical character. I'm such a fluent, specious person now, but I was an extremely awkward fellow in those days.


I suffer from the same frustration that every decent American suffers from. That is, that you begin to wonder whether decent liberal instincts, decent humanitarian instincts, can actually penetrate the right-wing voice, get through the steering of American opinion by the mass media.


It's part of a writer's profession, as it's part of a spy's profession, to prey on the community to which he's attached, to take away information - often in secret - and to translate that into intelligence for his masters, whether it's his readership or his spy masters. And I think that both professions are perhaps rather lonely.


You have no idea how humiliating it was, as a boy, to suddenly have all your clothes, your toys, snatched by the bailiff. I mean we were a middle-class family, it's not as if it was happening up and down the street. It made me ashamed, I felt dirty.


In the last 15 or 20 years, I've watched the British press simply go to hell. There seems to be no limit, no depths to which the tabloids won't sink. I don't know who these people are but they're little pigs.


I don't know whether it's age or maturity, but I certainly find myself committed more and more to the looser forms of Western democracy at any price.


In every war zone that I've been in, there has been a reality and then there has been the public perception of why the war was being fought. In every crisis, the issues have been far more complex than the public has been allowed to know.


I was quite able at the insignificant work I did in MI6, but absolutely dysfunctional in my domestic life. I had no experience of fatherhood. I had no example of marital bliss or the family unit.


History keeps her secrets longer than most of us. But she has one secret that I will reveal to you tonight in the greatest confidence. Sometimes there are no winners at all. And sometimes nobody needs to lose.


Most people like to read about intrigue and spies. I hope to provide a metaphor for the average reader's daily life. Most of us live in a slightly conspiratorial relationship with our employer and perhaps with our marriage.


I began writing when I was still in the British Foreign Service, and it was then understood that even if you wrote about butterfly collecting, you used another name.


I wrote 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' at the age of 30 under intense, unshared personal stress and in extreme privacy. As an intelligence officer in the guise of a junior diplomat at the British Embassy in Bonn, I was a secret to my colleagues, and much of the time to myself.


Novelists are not equipped to make a movie, in my opinion. They make their own movie when they write: they're casting, they're dressing the scene, they're working out where the energy of the scene is coming from and they're also relying tremendously on the creative imagination of the reader.


When you are brought up as a frozen child, you go on freezing. It wasn't until I had my four sons, who have brought me immense joy, that I began to thaw. That I realised how utterly extraordinary my childhood was.


The monsters of our childhood do not fade away, neither are they ever wholly monstrous. But neither, in my experience, do we ever reach a plane of detachment regarding our parents, however wise and old we may become. To pretend otherwise is to cheat.


The longing we have to communicate cleanly and directly with people is always obstructed by qualifications and often with concern about how our messages will be received.


In my day, MI6 - which I called the Circus in the books - stank of wartime nostalgia. People were defined by secret cachet: one man did something absolutely extraordinary in Norway; another was the darling of the French Resistance. We didn't even show passes to go in and out of the building.


We have learned in recent years to translate almost all of political life in terms of conspiracy. And the spy novel, as never before, really, has come into its own.


I made a series of wrong decisions about moderately recent books, and I've sold the rights to studios for ridiculous amounts of money and the films have never been made. That's the saddest thing of all, because they're locked up and no one else can make them.


I grew up in a completely bookless household. It was my father's boast that he had never read a book from end to end. I don't remember any of his ladies being bookish. So I was entirely dependent on my schoolteachers for my early reading with the exception of 'The Wind in the Willows,' which a stepmother read to me when I was in hospital.


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