Business & Economy

John Le Carré’s posthumous espionage novel leaves a bitter legacy

By Enrique Rubio

London, Jan 18 (EFE).- The worst kept secret in the world, a book crying out to be published but kept hidden by its author, John le Carré, has finally come to light a year after its author’s death.

Carré’s final novel ‘Silverview’ was completed for publication by his son Nick Cornwell after he promised he would complete any unfinished work his father would leave behind.

“I knew I’d made this slightly crazy promise that if he died with something unfinished, I would finish it,” Cornwell tells Efe.

Carré, known for his espionage novels, wrote the book in 2014, but kept it hidden in a drawer for years.

“It was closed, but never too far,” Carré’s son says.

According to Cornwell, his father abandoned the novel when he “accidentally” started depicting the death of his wife.

“I think that rattled him. He couldn’t look it in the face and the better the book got, the more painful it got,” Cornwell says.

The novel delves into the dark soul of the British Secret Intelligence Service and is a depiction of a decadent espionage service plagued by internal disputes and a lack of moral support.

Carré worked for MI5 and MI6 during the 1950s and 60s.

Despite his “minor and quite short” spying career, Cornwell suspects this novel was inspired by his father’s personal experiences in the service.

“You get the feeling that somehow he was trying to reflect on something that he had actually lived through the book,” Cornwell says.

“All his books, in a sense, blend the fiction of his espionage stories with the reality of the world he saw. I think with this one, he was increasingly dismayed by the direction that Britain was taking and that feeling didn’t go away.

“He felt very strongly that the services had been politicized under Tony Blair and that process was not being reversed by the subsequent conservative governments, that decline upset him, (…) so he depicted the service without redemption, as a bully, as a pointless service,” Cornwell explains.

For the first time, Carré’s novel gives little room for hope with no Musketeers to come to the rescue or George Smiley to save the day, leaving a bitter legacy.

The story does however feature recognizable characters like the mysterious Polish immigrant Edward Avon, whose European origin is no accident.

The Eastern Europeans characters in Carré’s posthumous work represent the impact of Brexit, which he was “totally against,” on immigrants.

“I think he was horrified by it,” Cornwell says.

Carré died in December 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He is best known for international best selling novels such as The Spy Who came in from the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. EFE

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