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John le Carre – 22 Quotes

 

22 Quotes by John le Carre

 

By the age of 9 or 10, I knew that I had to cut my own cloth and make my own way.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


When you’re my age and you see a story, you better go for it pretty quickly. I’d just like to get a few more novels under my belt.

– John le Carre


I mean, I’m in the business of storytelling, not message making.

– John le Carre


More particularly, having a largely German-oriented education has made me very responsive to 19th-century German literature.

– John le Carre


A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


The Secret Intelligence Service I knew occupied dusky suites of little rooms opposite St James’s Park Tube station in London.

– John le Carre


If there is one eternal truth of politics, it is that there are always a dozen good reasons for doing nothing.

– John le Carre


But I think the real tension lies in the relationship between what you might call the pursuer and his quarry, whether it’s the writer or the spy.

– John le Carre


Until we have a better relationship between private performance and the public truth, as was demonstrated with Watergate, we as the public are absolutely right to remain suspicious, contemptuous even, of the secrecy and the misinformation which is the digest of our news.

– John le Carre


My definition of a decent society is one that first of all takes care of its losers, and protects its weak.

– John le Carre


During the Cold War, we lived in coded times when it wasn’t easy and there were shades of grey and ambiguity.

– John le Carre


I worked for MI6 in the Sixties, during the great witch-hunts, when the shared paranoia of the Cold War gripped the services.

– John le Carre


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.

– John le Carre


The Cold War was over long before it was officially declared dead.

– John le Carre


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