A Philosophinity analysis of: John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963)

A canon of the spy genre

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is perhaps the most compelling spy novel that has been produced. Rather than fitting into the spy fiction genre, it indubitably shaped it. The notion that novels succeeding Spy were inspired by it – or at the very least, mindful of it, is quite a fair assessment of this novel’s relationship with the spy fiction genre. There are numerous textual and contextual grounds under which to attest to the impact this novel continues to have on the spy fiction genre.

Firstly, the absence of generic conventions, such as the moral absolutism and dualism that virtually all Spy novels preceding it comprised significantly enhances the Spy’s existing innovations. Indeed, the novel was contemporary in virtually every respect: its challenge of post-world war politics rendered its author an outstanding literary maverick. The reshaping of the way adversaries are conveyed play an eminent role in categorising and assessing this novel.

Secondly, parallels could be made between the fiction of Le Carré and Shakespeare. The both were heavily inspired in composing their works. Le Carré’s triumph elicited from Spy is a product of two notions: the extension of Greene’s latent dissidence and Fleming’s manifest embellishment.

Thirdly, and finally, the novels exploration of the era’s anomalous ways of thinking does not primarily occur through a particularly distinct character, feature or form. Its challenges in fact – that of moral, political, religious, philosophical and social configurations — operate independently of each other: while cause remains incompatible, effect is wholly congruous.

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