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Quotations From JOHN LE CARRÉ

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  • A committee is an animal with four back legs.
    John le Carré (b. 1931), British novelist. Smiley, in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, pt. 3, ch. 34 (1974).

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  • For decades to come the spy world will continue to be the collective couch where the subconscious of each nation is confessed.
    John le Carré (b. 1931), British thriller writer. quoted in Observer (London, Nov. 19, 1989).

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  • I don't think it is given to any of us to be impertinent to great religions with impunity.
    John le Carré (b. 1931), British thriller writer. Quoted in International Herald Tribune (Paris, May 23, 1989). Referring to Salman Rushdie, author of Satanic Verses.
  • ...the shiny-cheeked merchant bankers from London with eighties striped blue ties and white collars and double-barreled names and double chins and double-breasted suits, who said "ears" when they meant "yes" and "hice" when they meant "house" and "school" when they meant "Eton"...
    John le Carré (b. 1931), British novelist. Roper's description of the people he calls "the Necessary Evils" in The Night Manager, ch. 17, Alfred A. Knopf (1993).

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  • Ideologies ... have no heart of their own. They're the whores and angels of our striving selves.
    John le Carré (b. 1931), British novelist. Smiley, in The Secret Pilgrim, ch. 12 (1990).

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  • What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They're a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives.
    John le Carré (b. 1931), British novelist. Leamas, in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, ch. 25 (1963).

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  • It's easy to forget what intelligence consists of: luck and speculation. Here and there a windfall, here and there a scoop.
    John le Carré (b. 1931), British novelist. Leclerc, in The Looking-Glass War, pt. 2, ch. 9 (1965).
  • Fools, most linguists. Damn all to say in one language, so they learn another and say damn all in that.
    John le Carré (b. 1931), British novelist. Roper, in The Night Manager, ch. 16, Alfred A. Knopf (1993).
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