JOHN LE CARRÉ QUOTES

British author (1931- )

John le Carré quote

The good pupils are often brilliant, and they keep you on your toes and take you to the limits of your knowledge. The worst pupils provide a unique insight into the criminal mind.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, interview, The Paris Review, summer 1997

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Betrayal can only happen if you love.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, A Perfect Spy

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You should have died when I killed you.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, A Perfect Spy

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Tyranny is like the electric wiring in an old house. A tyrant dies, the new tyrant takes possession, and all he has to do is drop the switch.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, Absolute Friends

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Blackmail is more effective than bribery.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, Smiley's People

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I mean, you can't be less ruthless than the opposition simply because your government's policy is benevolent, can you now?

JOHN LE CARRÉ, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

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Luck's just another word for destiny ... either you make your own or you're screwed.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, The Mission Song

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I've never been able to write a book without one very strong character in my rucksack.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, interview, The Paris Review, summer 1997

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Never trade a secret, you'll always get the short end of the bargain.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, The Mission Song

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Do you know what love is? I'll tell you: it is whatever you can still betray.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, The Looking Glass War

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I was the British spy who had come out of the woodwork and told it how it really was, and anything I said to the contrary only enforced the myth. And since I was writing for a public hooked on Bond and desperate for the antidote, the myth stuck.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, The Guardian, April 12, 2013

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I've got more than one string to my bow, and I thought I'd give this one a twang.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, interview, The Paris Review, summer 1997

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Completing a book, it's a little like having a baby.... There's a feeling of relief and satisfaction when you get to the end. A feeling that you have brought your family, your characters, home. Then a sort of post-natal depression and then, very quickly, the horizon of a new book. The consolation that next time I will do it better.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, interview, The Telegraph, August 31, 2010

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Tags: books


A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, attributed, 1,600 Quotes & Pieces of Wisdom That Just Might Help You Out When You're Stuck in a Moment and Can't Get Out of It!

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Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, attributed, Bad TV: The Very Best of the Very Worst

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I use the furniture of espionage to amuse the reader, to make the reader listen to me, because 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. I think what gives my works whatever universality they have is that they use the metaphysical secret world to describe some realities of the overt world.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, attributed, "Master of the Secret World: John le Carré on Deception, Storytelling and American Hubris", Salon, October 21, 1996

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It's death, that's what I'm suffering from. The systematic encroachment of the big D.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, Smiley's People

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The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat's mat is a story.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, attributed, The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication

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The more identities a man has, the more they express the person they conceal.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

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The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist.

JOHN LE CARRÉ, "The United States of America Has Gone Mad", 2003

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