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16 September 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 4:05am

Words in pictures: John le Carré

The novelist explains why he became a spy.

By Staff Blogger

Leo Robson reviews John le Carré’s new novel Our Kind of Traitor in this week’s issue of the New Statesman. Robson writes that “even when le Carre fails to provide so many of the pleasures that are within his reach as a thriller writer and conjectural historian, he retains the power to make us feel like insiders in a previously remote and whispered-about world.”

In this clip, from an interview with the BBC for the programme John Le Carre: The Secret Centre, le Carré discusses his childhood and family,
and how they influenced the secretive man (and spy) he became. He dwells particularly on his father Ronnie, a complicated man who would later inspire a character in the novel A Perfect Spy, and who groomed his son to lie for him. “Really the only retaliation”, le Carre says, “was the secret path.”

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