Thursday, 2 September 2010

Le Carre on Philby

(c) Paul Calver for Sunday Telegraph
I've read online today an interesting interview with David Cornwall - better known by his literary alter ego John Le Carré - in which he recalls his decision not to meet Kim Philby, the Soviet spy of Cambridge spy ring fame who, the article recalls, no doubt played a part in ending Cornwall's career in MI:6 and MI:6.

The Sunday Telegraph magazine article reveals the depth of contempt the writer feels for Philby. Offered the opportunity in the late eighties to meet with the famous double agent, Cornwall recalls his disgust at the prospect of meeting a man responsible for the demise of British agents:
'"I couldn’t possibly have shook his hand,’ he shudders. ‘It was drenched in blood. It would have been repulsive. Lord knows how many agents Philby betrayed. They were tortured in terrible ways.'"
This is a very long and detailed interview with the author - timed as part of the PR push around his new novel 'Our Kind of Traitor' - and it reveals a number of interesting anecdotes about as well as some familiar and unfamiliar tales about his childhood. His new novel is based in Russia and draws on the world of the Oligarch, inspired by a meeting Le Carre had with a big-time crook Dima just at the end of the Cold War:
‘After a long wait, Dima, flanked by a bevy of heavies and a posse of pretty, pouty, scantily clad young women, deigned to arrive. He was a big monster of a man who looked like Telly Savalas.’
Fascinating portrait of one of the collossi of British espionage writing.

1 comment:

  1. Rob-thanks for all you do with this blog. I love Mr. Cornwell just as much as Len, and this was a great article. I'm quite looking forward to reading Our Kind of Traitor.