John Lee Carey, who made the thriller from equal courage, moral courage and literary stimulus, has died at the age of 89.
Lee Carey explored the gap between the West’s high-spirited freedom of speech and the disgusting reality of defending it, in novels like Spy Who Comes in the Cold, Tinker Taylor’s Soldier Spy, and The Night Manager, which garnered him critical acclaim and made him the best in the world.
His family confirmed on Sunday that he had died of pneumonia at Royal Cornwall Hospital on Saturday night. “We are all deeply saddened by his death,” they wrote in a statement.
His longtime agent Johnny Geller described him as “a controversial monster in English literature”. He defined the Cold War era and in the decades that followed fearlessly spoke the truth with power … I lost a mentor, an inspiration and, most importantly, a friend. We will never see him again. ”
His colleagues lined up to pay their respects. Stephen King wrote: “This horrible year has claimed a literary giant and a human consciousness.” Robert Harris said the news made him “extremely sad … the great successive British novel has put him in a novel and an unforgettable, unique character.” Adrian McKinty described Tinker Taylor’s Soldier Spite as “the most spy novel ever written,” while historian Simon Sebag Montifor called him “the titan of English literature with literature … personally, mesmerizing and generous and generous to me, and many more.”
Born in 1931 as David Cornwell, Le Carey began working for the Secret Service in the late 1940s while studying German in Switzerland. After teaching at Eaton, he joined the British Foreign Service as an intelligence officer, recruiting, managing, and supervising spies behind the Iron Curtain from his office at the MI5 building on Curzon Street in London. Inspired by his MI5 colleague, novelist John Bingham, he began publishing thrillers under the pseudonym John Le Carey – even after his publisher’s advice, he opted for two Anglo-Saxon monosyllabics, such as “Chunk-Smith”.
An earlier German agent, Call of the Dead, the first appearance of his most enduring character, George Smiley, was a spy modeled on Bingham at Le Carrie’s debut in 19 spy1. . The second novel, A Murder of Quality of 1962, saw Smiley investigate a public school murder and was positively reviewed. (“The more complex, the better, the better,” the observer concluded.) But a year later, when his third thriller was released, Le Curry’s career reached a whole new level.
Smiley, from Spy Who’s Who in the Cold, is only a minor, but the story of a mission to confront East German spies is filled with his world-weary character. According to Alec Lemas, a fifties-soming agent sent to East Berlin, the spies were simply “a weak procession of vain fools, traitors; Pansies, sadists and drunkards, who play cowboys and Indians to brighten the rotten life. Graham Green called it “the best spy story I’ve ever read.”
According to Lee Carey, the novel’s runaway success surprised him at first and then conflicted. He said his manuscript was approved by the secret service because it was “the perfect fiction from start to finish”, he explained in 2013, and probably could not represent a security breach. “Of course, this is not the opinion of the world’s media, which unanimously decided that the book was not only authentic, but a kind of public message from another side, did not leave me any more, just sit back and watch, in a kind of icy wonder, when it Woke up on the list of best sellers and got stuck there, Pandit later declared it the real thing. “
Smiley moved to the centerpiece of three novels by Le Carrie, published in the 1990s, highlighting the rivalry between Portal British Agent and his Soviet nemesis Carla. On Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, he unveiled a mole at the highest peaks of the British Secret Service, while at the prestigious schoolboy he went after a money laundering operation in Asia, before sending the Carler Swiss connection together with the people of Smiley. The worlds of “ferrets” and “lamplighters”, “wranglers” and “pavement artists” were drawn so tightly that his former colleagues at MI5 and MI6 began to take Le Carrie’s invented jargon as their own.
As the Cold War came to an end, friends stopped him on the street and asked: “What are you going to write now?” Le Kerry’s concerns, however, were always wider than the conflict between East and West, and he had little patience with the idea that any history of the fall of the Berlin Wall or spying would indicate some sort of consequence for Greece sorting out his processes. He fought the arms trade with The Knight Manager in 1993, The Knight Manager with The Constable Gardner in 2003, and Absolute Friends in 2004 through the war on terror.
Meanwhile, the steady stream of his creations came to the screen from the page. Actors including their Richard Burton, Alec Guinness, Ralph Fines and Gary Oldman have eased his character’s subtleties and even the audience has praised his conspiracy theories.
Lee Carey last returned to Smiley in 201 Sm, closing the circle of his career in A Legacy of Spice, which revisits his so-called comedy operation at the heart of the novel. Writing in the Guardian, John Banville praised his skill and efficiency, declaring that “since Spy has used his gift to Le Carrie so powerfully and as a storyteller for such a thrilling effect”.
After decades of filming as a mysterious figure, Le Carry surprised the world by publishing a memoir in The Pigeon Tunnel in 2016, mainly to join his enthusiastic or festive circuit in publicity. Lee Carey describes in detail the strange life of the spy-writer, describing his broken relationship with the abusive, Conman father and lonely upbringing after his mother abandoned him at the age of five, and was asked to have lunch with Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch. After spending four decades in Cornwall, twice married and raising a son named Nicholas, who himself wrote a novel called Nick Harkaway, Lee Carey admits: “I’m not a model husband or model father, and I’m not interested in the way it appears. “
The constant love of his life was writing, “An insect scattering like a man hiding at a desk”.
He wrote, “Outside of the secret world I knew I had tried to create a theater for the larger world we live in. “Imagination comes first, then reality. Then imagine and come back to the desk where I am sitting now.