The death of the famous British novelist John Le Carré on December 12, 2020 is a sigh. Le Carré died at the age of 89 and has worked tirelessly throughout his life. In 2019, he also published the 25th novel “Agent Running in the Field” (Agent Running in the Fi el d).
Le Carré is a master of spy novels. His early works focused on the spy wars between the East and the West during the Cold War. Later, the themes were more extensive, involving the anti-terrorism and anti-black gold operations that Western intelligence agencies participated in from the post-World War II to today, as well as some of the activities undertaken by these agencies. Activities in doubt of legitimacy. The story is wonderful and twists and turns, and the description of the British society’s class structure, especially the words, deeds and values of the upper and middle class is in three parts. His novels are all about espionage. They are often attributed to genre fiction writers and are despised by critics. He has never won a literary award like the Booker Prize for novels. However, people who like his works think that his contribution far exceeds that of espionage. This type of novel.
Among his novels, the first book I read was “Our Kindof Traitor” (Our Kindof Traitor). Before that, I had also heard the BBC radio adaptation of Le Carré’s series of novels with George Smalley as the protagonist. The radio drama was deeply attracted by the story of the spy war between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. “Black Gold Defection” seems a bit anticlimactic in the plot, but the portrayal of the characters in the book makes me admire very much, especially good at portraying British middle-upper class characters, which runs through all his works. These figures once belonged to the self-evident “dominant core” circle of Britain, and British spies have been selected from these people for a long time. In the British social class, those who attended boarding schools from an early age, completed secondary school in the best private schools, and received a degree in Oxford and Cambridge are considered to naturally have three qualities: naturally intelligent and knowledgeable, willing to take risks, and Not limited to etiquette, extremely loyal but not afraid of committing crimes.
This sounds a bit like 007, but the protagonists in Le Carré’s novels do not have 007 life. They face more failures, frustrations, frustrations, and betrayals. Victory is temporary, but loss is permanent. His novel actually breaks the phantom of “innate excellence” in the upper-middle class in Britain, which is related to his personal experience. He grew up in a typical British boarding school. He dropped out of school because he hated harsh housekeepers. He was recruited into the British spy agency MI5 during his studies at Oxford University, and then transferred to MI6 to be stationed in Germany. After his identity was exposed, he left intelligence. The agency became a writer and experienced a process of becoming an outsider from within the system. Looking back at his social class, his vision was particularly sharp.
These observations of British social class are where Le Carré’s works surpass ordinary spy novels. In addition to loving his novels, my appreciation for him also stems from my identification with his worldview. For example, his understanding of the importance of learning foreign languages is rarely seen in the writings of other British writers. He once wrote an article in 2017, starting from his own experience of learning German, he believed that learning a foreign language can make people understand themselves better, and observe their cultural background, behavior and way of thinking more earnestly. I empathize with this, but he can express it clearly and elegantly. He has a clear understanding of the status and influence of the United Kingdom in the world, which makes him a firm opponent of Brexit. Through a role in “Field Agents”, he has strongly expressed the status quo of Brexit. criticism.
Upon learning of Le Carré’s death, I found out his “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold) published in 1963. The questioning of the “just” side using non-moral methods in the book seems to have never been outdated.