When the Death of a Writer Is Page One News

An obit by Sarah Lyall on page one of the New York Times headlined “Author of Cold War Thrillers Whose Spies Were Imperfect”:

The opening and ending grafs:

LONDON — John le Carré, whose exquisitely nuanced, intricately plotted Cold War thrillers elevated the spy novel to high art by presenting both Western and Soviet spies as morally compromised cogs in a rotten system full of treachery, betrayal and personal tragedy, died on Saturday in Cornwall, England. He was 89. . . .

He toyed for years with whether to allow a biographer access to his papers, his friends and himself, accustomed as he was to so many layers of secrecy, even in his own life. “I’m horrified at the notion of autobiography,” he once said, “because I’m already constructing the lies I’m going to tell.”
An obit by Matt Schudel on page one of the Washington Post headlined “Onetime agent lifted the spy novel to literature”:

The opening and ending grafs:

John le Carré, a British author who drew on the enigma of his incorrigibly criminal father and his own experiences as a Cold War-era spy to write powerful novels about a bleak, morally compromised world in which international intrigue and personal betrayal went hand in hand, died Dec. 12 at a hospital in Cornwall, England. He was 89. . . .

Mr. le Carré brought Smiley out of retirement once more in 2017 in “A Legacy of Spies.” In that novel, a protege recalled the smooth, almost seductive way Smiley recruited him:

“ ‘We were wondering, you see,’ he said in a faraway voice, ‘whether you’d ever consider signing up for us on a more regular basis? People who have worked on the outside for us don’t always fit well on the inside. But in your case, we think you might. We don’t pay a lot, and careers tend to be interrupted. But we do feel it’s an important job, as long as one cares about the end, and not too much about the means.’ ”


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