The le Carre distortion

“‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’, my third book, changed my life and put me on bare-knuckle terms with my abilities. Until its publication I had written literally in secret, from inside the walls of the secret world, under another name, and free of serious critical attention. Once this book hit the stands, my time of quiet and gradual development was over for good, however much I tried to recreate it by, for example, fleeing with my family to a remote Greek island. Therefore, ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ is the last book of my period of innocence, and after it, for better or worse, my experimentations would have to take place in public. For years to come there would be no such thing, for the publishing industry, as a ‘small’ le Carre book — a distortion both longed for and abhorred by any artist worth his salt.”

– John le Carre, December 1989, introduction to THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, Sceptre, 2009

There’s more. le Carre talks about writing the novel in a rush over 5 weeks, he talks about watching the Berlin wall go up. And he says — and at this point I bought the book — “I had been poor too long, I was drinking a lot, I was beginning to doubt, in the deepest of ways, the wisdom of my choice of job.”

I had been poor too long. I was drinking a lot. I was beginning to doubt…

Well, if that’s part of the formula for success, then raise a cheer, my friends, I swear I’m part way there!

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