The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction: A Critical Study of Six Novelists 0786463791, 9780786463794

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The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction: A Critical Study of Six Novelists
 0786463791, 9780786463794

Table of contents :
Dedication
Table of Contents
Preface
Introduction: Reconnoitering a Disreputable Genre
1. Eric Ambler’s Revisionist Thrillers
2. Graham Greene’s World of Loyalty and Betrayal
3. Len Deighton’s Cold War Triptych
4. John le Carré’s Post–Cold War Labyrinths
5. Stella Rimington’s Feminist Espionage Fiction
6. Charles Cumming’s Contemporary Vision
Afterword: A Non-Conclusion
Chapter Notes
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction

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The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction A Critical Study of Six Novelists ROBERT LANCE SNYDER

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers Jefferson, North Carolina, and London

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Snyder, Robert Lance, 1944– The art of indirection in British espionage fiction : a critical study of six novelists / Robert Lance Snyder. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-7864-6379-4 softcover : 50# alkaline paper 1. Spy stories, English — History and criticism. Technique. 3. Narration (Rhetoric) I. Title. PR830.S65S69 2011 823'.08720909 — dc23 BRITISH LIBRARY

2. Fiction — 2011016259

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© 2011 Robert Lance Snyder. All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Front cover © 20¡¡ Shutterstock Manufactured in the United States of America

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers Box 6¡¡, Je›erson, North Carolina 28640 www.mcfarlandpub.com

In memory of Robert C. Snyder (1916–1974) and Betty D. Snyder (1918–2008)

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Table of Contents Preface

1

Introduction: Reconnoitering a Disreputable Genre

3

1. Eric Ambler’s Revisionist Thrillers

23

2. Graham Greene’s World of Loyalty and Betrayal

46

3. Len Deighton’s Cold War Triptych

88

4. John le Carré’s Post–Cold War Labyrinths

112

5. Stella Rimington’s Feminist Espionage Fiction

146

6. Charles Cumming’s Contemporary Vision

169

Afterword: A Non-Conclusion

187

Chapter Notes

193

Bibliography

205

Index

213

vii

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Preface The scholarly reputation of espionage fiction has lagged far behind that of the detective story, even though they are closely related literary forms. Many reasons can be cited for this disparity, some of which this book’s introduction titled “Reconnoitering a Disreputable Genre” attempts to pinpoint. Despite the efforts of such critics as Bruce Merry, John G. Cawelti, Bruce A. Rosenberg, LeRoy L. Panek, Lars Ole Sauerberg, Michael Denning, and Allan Hepburn to rehabilitate its distinctive features, spy fiction continues to languish under a cloud of academic suspicion. More often than not its marginalization is tacitly ceded on the basis of supposedly formulaic plot structure and thematic values. The present study derives from a conviction that the genre’s dynamics at the level of narrative technique are more sophisticated and subtle than is usually recognized. How this undertaking came to attract my interest frankly puzzles me still. Trained in graduate school as a Romanticist, I found myself intrigued by prose writer Thomas De Quincey as a nineteenth-century crossover figure, concerning whom I subsequently published a book and several articles. Thereafter, while chairing two university departments and editing a scholarly journal, I began to think intensively about the politics of canonicity. That train of reflection was sharpened when I offered a seminar on Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene, during which the relationship between both writers’ “spy” novels and the rest of their corpus prompted me to delve further into this book’s subject. At least that in retrospect is how I have reconstructed the present undertaking’s genesis. Every scholarly project has a history of innumerable indebtednesses both large and small. Since it is beyond my powers to make all these explicit, I shall content myself with a short list. Thanks to my administrative successors David W. Newton and Jane Bowers Hill at the University of West Georgia, I was privileged to offer several upper-division as well as graduate courses in 1

Preface

British espionage fiction and film. Although an oft-repeated claim, it yet is true that one learns best while attempting to teach. Of the many students who enrolled in those courses, I wish to record my special gratitude to Michael Brown, Louise Cooper, Holly C. Holder, Jane McClain, Amy P. Riley, Crystal Shelnutt, and Dianne West, most of whom have become teachers in their own right, for ushering me into new ways of understanding this genre. A one-semester sabbatical in Autumn 2005 permitted me to grapple with the theoretical framework and conceptual foundation of this study. In conjunction with research conducted during that leave, I was invited to give a talk titled “Covert Operations: Decoding Espionage Fiction” to faculty and students in January 2007. Parts of that presentation appear in my introduction to this book. Earlier versions of material in Chapters 1–2 were published in Papers on Language & Literature, South Atlantic Review, and Texas Studies in Literature and Language. The editors of these journals have kindly allowed me to include portions of those articles in this work. The first quarterly specifically requested that I acknowledge its consent as follows: Reprinted by permission. Papers on Language & Literature, Volume 45, Number 3, Summer 2009. Copyright © 2009 by The Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Excerpts from Graham Greene’s The Confidential Agent are reprinted with permission from Penguin Group (USA). I also am indebted to the staff of Irvine Sullivan Ingram Library, especially Angela Mehaffey, at the University of West Georgia for arranging literally dozens of interlibrary loans during my research for this project. Without such generous assistance I would have been hard pressed to explore the subject in appropriate depth. Inevitably, during the writing of a book, both immediate and extended family members become hostages of a sometimes obsessive preoccupation. My wife Carol has always supported my scholarly explorations. For her love and trust these many years I am inexpressibly grateful. Jonathan, Christopher, and Jessica, our now grown children, have been most charitably willing to serve as occasional sounding boards for issues related to this endeavor. The same is true, though to a lesser extent because of our geographical distance from each other, of my brothers David and Mark as well as my sister Suzanne. Finally, it is in honor of our parents, who raised all four of us during the Cold War to probe difficult questions about loyalty, commitment, and authority, that this book is dedicated. 2

Introduction: Reconnoitering a Disreputable Genre Among literary scholars the spy novel tends still to be a suspect genre. One reason for its dubious status may be the form’s widespread popular appeal and commercial success, not to mention that its market niche is often overcrowded with spurious productions. Few would probably deny, for example, that Ian Fleming’s fourteen “James Bond” potboilers, released with metronomic regularity between 1953 and 1966, in addition to the numerous Bond-redux films produced since Fleming’s death, have so caricatured the genre as to devalue its standing. A second way of accounting for espionage fiction’s relative lack of attention by the scholarly community derives from the fact that the spy is often perceived as an unsavory, antiheroic, morally compromised trickster or picaresque figure whose exploits warrant disapprobation. In this regard one is reminded of Alec Leamas’s tirade to Liz Gold at the end of John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1963): “‘What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives. Do you think they sit like monks in London balancing the rights and wrongs?’” (203). Yet another reason for scholarly neglect of the spy thriller, which emerged only a century ago as a permutation of the adventure tale and detective story, is that it has been faulted for being formulaic. The effect of this bias, first challenged by John G. Cawelti in 1976, has been a tacit impeachment of espionage fiction’s respectability, at least as measured against canonical texts. In his preface to The Special Branch: The British Spy Novel, 1890 –1980, LeRoy L. Panek thus isolates 3

Introduction

the genre’s hybridity as a cause of its prompting “apoplexy in literary purists” (2). Panek’s observation hints at the idea that something other than mimetic verisimilitude characterizes this narrative mode. Before making a case for what that dimension might be, I wish to frame my argument by resurrecting a renowned critic’s indictment of espionage fiction. In an essay written for, and presumably commissioned by, American Scholar when The Spy Who Came In from the Cold was scaling the bestseller charts, Jacques Barzun lodged a sweeping protest against the “literature of spying” by proposing that it constituted “light” and “trashy” fare (167, 169). Inexplicably yoking le Carré’s breakthrough novel with Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s satire titled Candy (1964), he remarked that the latter “is supposed to be a parody of the modern novel of sex” while the former “is held up as a really real realistic tale of modern spying” (167). In passing we should note that Barzun’s deliberately tautological string of qualifiers, “really real realistic,” indicates that he reads le Carré as attempting a mimetic representation or vrai semblance. Notwithstanding his distaste for such alleged “melodrama,” this eminent scholar conceded that the espionage genre might have an ancestry if not quite a pedigree: “The novel is dedicated to subversion; the novelist is a spy in enemy country” (169–70). Two things are striking about Barzun’s rumination. For one, although he cannot be typecast as an Arnoldian foe of popular literature, the author of From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present endorses the Enlightenment paradigm of ratiocentrism versus any latter-day manifestation of indeterminacy. Rather than the layered duplicity, divided allegiances, and general skepticism of espionage narratives, Barzun prefers “the rationality of detection” because “the spy aims at destroying a polity by sowing confusion and civil strife,” whereas “the detective aims at saving a polity by suppressing crime” (172). What Rudyard Kipling in Kim (1901) dubbed the “Great Game,” in other words, smacks of “depravity,” betokening “the universal loss of honor and conviction” (174, 175). At the same time Barzun concurs with Mikhail Bakhtin that the novel, in contrast to the epic, is intrinsically subversive of the existing hierarchy of approved verities and values. Unfortunately Barzun’s antipathy to the genre,1 predicated on the grounds of its unsettling the established order of things, prevents him from entertaining the possibility 4

Introduction

that the spy novel in the hands of such writers as Joseph Conrad, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and John le Carré may entail something other than a facile mimeticism. Although Bruce Merry declared more than thirty years ago that espionage fiction is not primarily mimetic (“[T]he narrative image,” he asserted, “rarely corresponds to the known and ascertainable facts about real-life spy networks and intelligence operations” [1]), subsequent scholars have overlooked his important insight. In 1993, for instance, distinguished Yale University historian Robin W. Winks, a self-professed devotee of thrillers, published “Spy Fiction — Spy Reality: From Conrad to Le Carré,” whose very title indicates his interest in tracing the descriptive accuracy of this literary corpus. The penchant is even more pronounced in those addressing a general audience. Frederick P. Hitz, who served with the Central Intelligence Agency from 1967 to 1998, is thus almost painfully intent in The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage on delineating how such fiction either coincides with or departs from historical referentiality. No less is this the case with Wesley Britton’s Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film, released a year later in 2005, which amid a blizzard of factual information always finds time to investigate his subject’s correspondence to “real-life” figures and events. The most recent manifestation of this impulse is Neutral Ground: A Political History of Espionage Fiction, in which Brett F. Woods traces how the genre blends fact and fiction to offer “extrapolations of certain real[-]world political events” (2). My point is simply that most exemplary spy novels seduce us as headline-conditioned readers into reflecting on their degree of verisimilitude, all the while sandbagging our expectations and inviting us to investigate more fully their narratological world of “covert operations.” At this juncture an inventory of the features that define, if not delimit, this genre should prove helpful. These traits, gleaned from what is still a fledgling body of criticism, may be enumerated as follows: 1. The protagonist has some operative connection to corporate surveillance and intelligence-gathering, even though that person may be unaware of his or her role in a larger agenda. 2. Clandestinity, dissemblance, and invisibility contribute to the text’s fabric of complication. 5

Introduction

3. Loyalty and betrayal, coupled with the pursuit theme, serve as a fulcrum for balancing the claims of competing ideologies on the main character, whether presented as an accidental or professional agent. 4. The encroachment of liminal boundaries, inseparable from the spy’s vocation, makes him or her a target of suspicion in a world of governmentally sanctioned programs of surveillance. 5. Some background scope of internationalism, global conspiracy, and vested geopolitical interests is necessary to heighten the stakes of espionage activity. 6. Bureaucracy typically opposes the quick-witted and independent agent, who often falls prey to machinations beyond the immediate sphere of action. 7. Plots resemble a maze or labyrinth wherein the protagonist must anticipate misdirection or solve an enigma in order to accomplish a mission. 8. Concealment and protraction, the deliberate occlusion of a secret and the purposeful delay in solving it, generate the mode’s dramatic tension. The preceding list discloses the limitations of an essentially formalist analysis that tries to peg a genre’s uniqueness by positing, inductively, a sumof-the-parts model for categorization. In this regard, although John G. Cawelti and Bruce A. Rosenberg’s The Spy Story deserves much credit for reexamining this hybrid mode, their 1987 book took a loosely structuralist approach to espionage fiction and its reworked themes. In the same year, however, Michael Denning’s Cover Stories: Narrative and Ideolog y in the British Spy Thriller presented an alternative model that inquired into the mediatory function of literary forms and their appeal to the reading public. Borrowing from theorist Fredric Jameson, Denning advocated that we think in terms of inherent “ideologemes” rather than ahistorical patterns in assessing the espionage novel’s dynamics (15). The difference here is pivotal, for texts such as le Carré’s The Spy Who Came In from the Cold strategically reinforce our willingness to infer an equivalency between fiction and reality while simultaneously compelling us to question those constructs and their conceptual underpinning. 6

Introduction

By way of refining this postulate, permit me to align the last two hallmarks of espionage fiction with a pair of rehabilitated critical terms. The genre, per the above compilation of traits, is often said to be characterized by a labyrinthine plot wherein the protagonist struggles to decipher some central enigma while authorial concealment and protraction defer its resolution. These elements hark back to the spy novel’s derivation from the detective story, but their adaptation follows a trajectory quite different from that of the sleuthing found in Edgar Allan Poe’s or Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of ratiocination. Allan Hepburn captures this divergence well in Intrigue: Espionage and Culture: Spy narratives differ from their antecedents insofar as the espionage thriller inculcates the impossibility of truth and commitment within ideology. Spies deal with betrayal and double[-]crosses the way detectives deal with motives and crimes, as objects for examination and analysis. Yet spy fiction is not the same as detective fiction. Spy fiction is about codes; detective fiction is about clues. Extrapolating from that observation, we can generalize that spy fiction is about hermeneusis (codes, typically numbers or words, require decipherment as allegory) and detective fiction is about exegesis (clues, typically objects and instruments, require literal reading in a linear order as realism) [25].

Hepburn’s bold distinction suggests the elliptical and recursive pattern of most spy narratives, in contrast with the linearity of detective-story plots. It also recognizes the former genre’s insistence on plunging readers directly into the tricky business of hermeneutics. Latent in both points is the implication that, by immersing us in a discursive world of encrypted signification, espionage fiction mirrors, stages, or reenacts the reading process itself, one wherein we become accomplices in a metatextual drama of interpretation. How, then, does this occur? My answer is that the reflexivity of strong spy thrillers arises from their intensive deployment, almost an imbalanced surplus, of diegesis (telling or explaining) in relation to what is commonly understood as mimesis (imitation or showing). With the rise of postmodernism, as David Lodge noted in 1984,2 both of these terms fell into disfavor, but in resuscitated form they have acquired an ongoing currency. Without rehearsing the centuries-long debate over precisely what Aristotle meant by mimesis in the Poetics, I shall assume its generally accepted denotation of verisimilitude. It remains only to parse the less familiar mode of 7

Introduction

representation known as diegesis. When Aristotle uses the term, he opposes it to the dramatic staging of events and associates it with poetic narrative, specifically all those untrustworthy devices that, in a later age of prose fiction, we subsume under the rubric of indirect narration. These include characters’ reported speech, conflicting evidence, false surmises, contradictory points of view, interpolated anecdotes, extraneous texts, ostensible digressions, equivocal testimony, and unattributed information. The sheer superfluity of such elements in the genre, I think, is what David Glover means by asserting that “the thriller differs from the detective story ... not in any disinclination to resort to deductive methods in solving crimes” but rather by its “diffuseness”—“an extraordinary promiscuity of reference that produces an over-abundance of possibilities” (137, 139). The net effect of such diegetic material is twofold: first, it compels readers to undertake the hard work of ferreting out what is “true” from what is not; and, second, it enables us to hypothesize, if not confidently know, both less and more than the protagonist grasps at any given point. Within the essentially dramatic or mimetic framework of espionage thrillers, then, proliferates an array of probative cues that, taxing our faculties of deduction, reinforces not a faith in the inerrancy of logical inference but rather our dangerous susceptibility to misinterpretation. Gérard Genette develops this concept further by elaborating on a “primary opposition” for the forefathers of literary theory. In Book III of The Republic, he notes, Plato uses diegesis to signify “simple narrative,” whereas mimesis encompasses “imitation properly speaking” (“Boundaries” 1, 2). Lodge helpfully glosses the difference as involving “the representation of actions in the poet’s own voice” versus “the representation of action in the imitated voices of the character or characters” (“Mimesis” 352). In his Poetics, however, Aristotle construes narrative as one of two genres of poetic imitation, the other being drama, prompting Genette’s observation that “from classical origins two contradictory traditions seem to exist whereby narrative would be opposed to imitation as its antithesis or would constitute one of its modes” (“Boundaries” 2). Given this background, the larger point for Genette and Lodge alike is that diegesis and mimesis, narration and description, or what Wayne C. Booth calls “telling” and “showing” are inseparable in prose fiction from the eighteenth century onwards. Genette puts the matter succinctly: “Mimesis is diegesis” (“Boundaries” 5). 8

Introduction

For his part Lodge suggests how the characteristic readiness of postmodernist novels to expose their own artifices of narratological mediation and invention signals “a revival of diegesis: not smoothly dovetailed with mimesis as in the classic realist text, and not subordinated to mimesis as in the modernist text, but foregrounded against mimesis” (“Mimesis” 369–70). In this respect the spy thriller’s epistemology and architectonics diverge radically from those of the classical detective story, rendering questionable Jerry Palmer’s claim that “no fundamental difference” exists between these forms (106). Whereas detective fiction is predicated on the idea of a morally comprehensible universe, the efficacy of logical deduction, and a single individual’s violation of a juridical norm, espionage fiction concedes none of these premises. According to Tzvetan Todorov’s typology, this difference is reflected in the genres’ usual structure. The “whodunit” as crafted by G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, S. S. Van Dine, Ngaio Marsh, Ellery Queen, and John Dickson Carr, he contends, is divided into two geometric parts, an initial account of some baffling crime followed by the protagonist’s identification of its perpetrator.3 In sharp contrast, the spy thriller collapses or “fuses” the detective story’s duality (47), plunging us into a world of shadow-games in which visceral suspense rather than cool-headed ratiocination predominates. To invoke Genette’s useful distinction, prolepsis eclipses analepsis.4 And, whereas the whodunit invariably ends with the canny solution of a crime based upon a patient sifting of clues, the espionage novel typically resists closure and revels in ambiguity if not full-blown indeterminacy. If the former genre is “cozy,” a source of cerebral gratification for the armchair sleuth, the latter is discomfiting, constantly reconfiguring what Wolfgang Iser calls our “horizon” of expectations in the act of reading (96–99, 111–12). In order to test this approach, let us consider again The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, hailed by one scholar as “the best spy story ever written” (Giddings 208). Le Carré’s economical novel recounts the pawnlike manipulation of Alec Leamas who, having lost several operatives to his East German counterpart named Hans-Dieter Mundt, is persuaded by “Cambridge Circus,” le Carré’s nickname for MI6, to masquerade publicly in England as a cashiered, alcoholic, and burnt-out case. Not being, we are told early on, either “a reflective man” or “a particularly philosophical one” (8), Leamas lends himself readily to the role, which has been staged 9

Introduction

to make him appear ripe for ideological recruitment by the former GDR. During this months-long charade he forms a romantic relationship with Liz Gold, a much younger woman and idealistic member of the Communist party who works as a librarian. Eventually contacted by Mundt’s lowerechelon moles in the U.K., Leamas is whisked away to East Germany where he is thoroughly interrogated regarding his cover story. The novel reaches its climax when this presumed defector is hauled before the Abteilung’s tribunal by one Fiedler, who is head of counter-intelligence under the autocratic direction of Mundt. Although the intricacies of Leamas’s crossexamination are too convoluted for summary here, he gradually is maneuvered through “a spurious chain of evidence” into incriminating not Mundt but Fiedler as the suspected collaborator within the GDR hierarchy (170). In consequence, Fiedler, the Jewish refugee from the Holocaust whom Whitehall presumably is backing, is sentenced to death while Mundt, the ex–Nazi double agent whom Circus bankrolls, orchestrates the feigned escape of Leamas and Gold from prison. As the lovers attempt to climb over the Berlin Wall, Liz is shot and Alec, rather than returning to safe haven in the West, sacrifices himself by clinging to her hand. What this synopsis does not capture is the novel’s continuous fabric of intradiegetic overtures to its readers. If we are not always one step ahead of the protagonist, we frequently are offered insights to which he, given his career-hardened skepticism, seems obdurately blind. For example, having subscribed to the tradecraft axiom that for the secret agent “deception is first a matter of self-defence” (“He must protect himself not only from without but from within, and against the most natural of impulses” [120]), Leamas has lost faith in any and all “causes,” forfeiting in the process a capacity for moral discrimination and self-understanding. The irony is that, despite his skills as a tactician who “despised technique,” Leamas mistakenly believes himself to be simply, like his arch-foe Mundt, “a man of fact and action” who is nobody’s fool (142). Driven by his personal vendetta against the latter, he thus becomes an unwitting dupe of the Cold War ideology of binary polarities. We see this best when, midway through the novel, its protagonist reflects back on his operational instructions by Control: Don’t give it to them all at once, make them work for it. Confuse them with detail, leave things out, go back on your tracks. Be testy, be cussed, be difficult.

10

Introduction Drink like a fish; don’t give way on the ideology, they won’t trust that. They want to deal with a man they’ve bought; they want the clash of opposites, Alec, not some half-cock convert. Above all, they want to deduce. The ground’s prepared; we did it long ago, little things, difficult clues. You’re the last stage in the treasure hunt [97].

By following his London-based handler’s directive to the letter, Leamas discovers, “with the terrible clarity of a man too long deceived, ... the whole ghastly trick” (191), though well before that point we as readers are enabled to fill in gaps of exposition and recognize what Hepburn designates as the principle of all intrigue literature — namely, that “nothing is ever itself ” (185). Although this short analysis has not revealed all the layers of le Carré’s novel, it should suggest how his text compels us to sort through a welter of indirect narration rather than attend naïvely to its mimetic surface. The closing scene of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold merges two images that distill the story’s parabolic quality. One is that of the Berlin Wall, where Alec Leamas and Liz Gold die at the end. In an introduction written in 1989 for Simon and Schuster’s reprinting of his third novel, le Carré describes how more than a quarter century earlier, while employed as a spy attached to the British Embassy in Königswinter, he regarded the Wall’s construction as “a perfect symbol of the monstrosity of ideology gone mad” (viii). The second image grimly reinforces the first. As Leamas falls to his death from atop the Wall, he has a fleeting vision of “a small car smashed between great lorries, and the children waving cheerfully through the windows” (212). This tableau, the novel’s final sentence, reprises a mise en scène more than a hundred pages earlier, one whose significance we may have overlooked while reading, in which Alec nearly crashes into a family’s slow-moving Fiat on the Autobahn (96–97). Again le Carré underscores the peril of those who, caught in the trap of innocence, fail in circumspection — which is to say, fail in construing adequately their plight in an unsafe world. If nothing else, modern British espionage fiction hones our ability to decipher and question all those forces that conspire to shape our lives. It was not always so. With the seminal exception of Joseph Conrad, the early twentieth-century history of the genre was dominated by such immensely popular writers as Erskine Childers, John Buchan, Dornford 11

Introduction

Yates, William Le Queux, E. Phillips Oppenheim, and H. C. (“Sapper”) McNeile whose “Clubland”5 adventure sagas, during the years leading up to and overlapping with World War I, were imbued with an ethnocentrism tinged with xenophobia that vilified “Them” while valorizing “Us” (see Cawelti and Rosenberg 38–45; Stafford, “Spies” 503–04). The main thrust of these precursive texts was transparently propagandistic in extolling the national virtues of England in the face of impending German aggression. By comparing Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands (1903) and Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), then juxtaposing them with Conrad’s The Secret Agent (1907) and Under Western Eyes (1911), we can begin to recognize the pattern of subsequent espionage thrillers in terms of how they manipulate a wavering balance of diegetic versus mimetic elements. Resolutely staking its claim to factual realism, The Riddle of the Sands exploits the pretense of being an edited and orally amplified version of diary entries by one Carruthers concerning his September–October 1902 voyage from the Baltic to the North Sea with former university acquaintance Arthur H. Davies. Supplemented with nautical maps, Childers’ only novel wastes no time in circumstantially detailing his principal characters’ journey aboard the thirty-foot converted yawl named Dulcibella. In due course Carruthers, a self-described “peevish dandy” only three years down from Oxford who is employed as a bored cleric in the Foreign Office (115), finds himself entranced by his classmate’s more adventurous way of life. Reflecting the Edwardian ethos of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout Movement, the novel recounts the determined efforts of consummate seaman Davies to solve the “riddle of the sands,” an intricate maze of channels threading the tidal flats along Germany’s northern coast that he suspects are crucial to Kaiser Wilhelm II’s ambitions to rival the United Kingdom’s supremacy as a naval and imperial power. Fiercely patriotic but convinced that his country’s reliance on deep-draft warships is misguided, Childers’ protagonist stumbles upon another mystery. Why did Herr Dollmann aboard the Medusa, whom he suspects of being an English officer turned German spy, leave him stranded on the Hohenhörn banks during a storm? At the heart of this 1903 adventure quest, in other words, is the story of “two young gentlemen ... with a taste for amateur hydrography and police duty combined” who find themselves drawn into the darker realm of international espionage (121). After 300 pages minutely docu12

Introduction

menting the pair’s maritime exploration, they finally discover the secret of Germany’s planned invasion of England. The fictitious editor’s epilogue assures us that “the German danger” is no “idle ‘bogey’” and that Great Britain’s imperial reach risks a “well-planned blow at the industrial heart of the kingdom” (319, 320). The Riddle of the Sands is thus a call to action, reworking Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure novels and H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds (1898), that promulgates a lesson of preparedness given the emergence of other powers vying for global preeminence.6 Not long after the narrative’s publication Parliament, alarmed by fears of German infiltration, established the British Secret Service Bureau in 1909. Implicit in this précis is the fact that Childers’ novel, though often proclaimed a spy thriller, is essentially a detective story with some formal features of espionage fiction. The initial violation, if not quite crime, is Dollmann’s abandonment of Davies amid perilous seas, which abrogates an unspoken covenant among sailors, but that event soon yields to a more portentous puzzle involving an island nation’s security. Carruthers and Davies then begin systematically to investigate clues that point toward a subtly dissembled campaign to catch England’s military defenses off guard. Effectively, they become sleuths drawn into a high-stakes game with huge consequences. Their assiduous deliberation over and cross-examination of leads, culminating in a match of wits with Dollmann and his associates over dinner at the former’s Norderney residence, reflect the kind of deductive ratiocination we associate with the classical whodunit. Moreover, the structure of Childers’ plot is linear, not elliptical, and his narrative’s closure allows no room whatsoever for ambiguity or uncertainty. In terms of Hepburn’s distinction cited earlier, The Riddle of the Sands thus figures as a tale in which exegesis predominates over hermeneusis. Exactly the reverse is true of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Although it too addresses the threat of German invasion, Buchan’s début novel revolves wholly around the efforts of protagonist Richard Hannay to decode the “little black book” in which Franklin P. Scudder, an American war correspondent, has jotted encrypted notes about, supposedly, a “subterranean movement” of European anarchists and financiers whose aim is to “get Russia and Germany at loggerheads” (21, 10). Scudder’s “yarn” to Hannay, recited shortly before his murder in the latter’s flat, turns out to be, however, a partially fabricated cover story (12). Central to its hidden import 13

Introduction

are the date of 15 June, a woman named Julia Czechenyi, the Black Stone, and a terrifying “old man ... who could hood his eyes like a hawk” (17). Equipped with these few details, 37-year-old Hannay, previously a mining engineer who made his colonialist “pile” in South Africa and is now “the best bored man in the United Kingdom” (7), sets out to pursue Scudder’s quest of discovery, as much to verify the American’s suspicions as to divert himself from ennui. Owing to his expertise as a former intelligence officer during the Boer War, Hannay eventually succeeds in cracking the textwithin-a-text while on the run in Scotland from both the police and foreign assassins. In the course of his peregrinations, which are as episodic and random as any in a picaresque tale, Buchan’s protagonist never relents in trying to construe the encoded journal. At one point Hannay meets a young, mildly fatuous, innkeeper who aspires to “‘write things like Kipling and Conrad’” and who, hearing of the fugitive’s exploits, confidently proclaims that “‘it is all pure Rider Haggard and Conan Doyle’” (32, 33). Nothing could be further from the truth. The literary enthusiast, whom we first encounter rapturously reciting John Milton’s description of Satan’s flight through Chaos and Night in Paradise Lost (2:943–45), represents all those who are prone to interpreting the world in terms of established binaries and essentialist oppositions. This is not to say that either Buchan or his wooden hero Hannay escapes reductionism. Both are more than capable, for instance, of crediting such racist caricatures as those of “‘a prognathous Westphalian with a retreating brow and the manners of a hog,’” or of “‘a little white-faced Jew ... with an eye like a rattlesnake ... who is ruling the world just now’” (11). Nonetheless, if we can get past these repugnant stereotypes, characteristic of its era, The Thirty-Nine Steps steadily develops a narratological drama of code-breaking. Nearly halfway through the short novel Richard Hannay realizes that the “whole story was in ... [Scudder’s] notes — with gaps, you understand” (37), but it takes him another five chapters to fill in the lacunae, penetrate the Black Stone’s uncanny disguises, solve the riddle of the thirty-nine steps, and ultimately defeat a plot that had “fell designs on the world’s peace” (101). The ending is unmistakably triumphalist, not surprising given that The Riddle of the Sands was Buchan’s inspiration, but more pertinent to this book’s argument is Hannay’s admission that in all these feats he “wasn’t any kind of Sherlock Holmes.” In other words, rather 14

Introduction

than by the dogged and ratiocinative tracing of authorial clues, he succeeds by a kind of provisional “guessing” (95), tantamount to the fundamentally different process of textual interpretation. Chronologically situated between Childers’ and Buchan’s tales, both The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes open up entirely new horizons in espionage fiction. The quantum shift stems from Conrad’s remarkable gift for telling a story using oblique narration and sustained irony. In stark contrast to the didacticism of Childers’ fable and the situational drama of Buchan’s thriller, Conrad’s two novels compel us to confront directly what might be called puzzles of the narrational act itself. He thereby poses the task of constructing meaning without guidance by a controlling voice7 that sanctions a particular way of interpreting his texts. The Secret Agent achieves this artistic feat via two strategic and complementary choices regarding its manner of representation. The first is that Conrad defamiliarizes the work’s setting of London, which according to his “Author’s Note” figures as “a monstrous town” and “cruel devourer of the world’s light” (231), such that we are hard-pressed to find our bearings in terms of any putative geography. This ominous, almost oneiric, cityscape is linked intertextually to the opening vignette in Heart of Darkness (1902) where the metropolis at dusk is wrapped in a “brooding gloom” (27), but rather than viewing its skyline from miles away near the sea-reach of the Thames we now are positioned within the oppressive recesses of London, leading one perceptive critic to comment on the “atmosphere of claustrophobia” that pervades The Secret Agent (Greaney 136). When not coursing its maze of wet streets, “the enormity of ... bricks, slates, and stones, things in themselves unlovely and unfriendly to man” (42), we are immured in any number of suffocating interiors: Mr. Verloc’s shop of “shady wares” at 32 Brett Street, including its upstairs suite where he cultivates “domestic virtues” (4); the foreign embassy on Chesham Square where Verloc is berated by First Secretary Vladimir for being an ineffectual agent provocateur; the Silenus Restaurant’s basement where two anarchists discuss explosive devices while a player piano clangs out a mazurka followed by “Blue Bells of Scotland”; the salon of a British doyenne where she presides as patroness to Michaelis, a Marxist “ticket-of-leave apostle” (31); and Sir Ethelred’s chambers where the Assistant Commissioner of Police confides his suspicions about the Royal Observatory bombing in Greenwich. The 15

Introduction

practical effect of such confinement to corridor-like thoroughfares and compartmentalized retreats is to deprive readers of any overarching vantage point. Our sole recourse, then, is to wrestle with a multiplicity of partial, foreshortened, and fragmented perspectives that Conrad’s unidentified narrator provides through the dramatis personae, who themselves are victims of tunnel vision. Coupled with this treatment of milieu is the author’s decision to rely heavily on free indirect discourse, a ploy that “denies the reader the luxury of a clear and uncomplicated moral stance” (Lyon xxxvi). All the main characters, of course, have fashioned their own image of Adolf Verloc, whether as husband, son-in-law, spy, or informant, but lost amid all the disparate views of and accounts about the nominal protagonist is a reliable sense of who he actually is. In his own mind Verloc thinks of himself as “‘one of the old lot’— the humble guardian of society; the invaluable Secret Agent Δ of [former Ambassador] Baron Stott-Wartenheim’s despatches; a servant of law and order” (210), as attested by one of the few extradiegetic impressions we get of him. While walking past Hyde Park to keep an illfated appointment with Mr. Vladimir, code-named Secret Agent Δ is thus described ironically as follows: He surveyed through the park railings the evidences of the town’s opulence and luxury with an approving eye. All these people had to be protected. Protection is the first necessity of opulence and luxury. They had to be protected; and their horses, carriages, houses, servants had to be protected; and the source of their wealth had to be protected in the heart of the city and the heart of the country; the whole social order favourable to their hygienic idleness had to be protected against the shallow enviousness of unhygienic labour [9].

The sixfold repetition of “protected” and its variant in this short passage indicates how Verloc, a man over forty who served five years in prison for political activism and who now is disposed to habitual indolence, has abandoned ideological self-identification to become a willing hack to the highest bidder for his talents. More than that, however, he has duped himself, as a parallel reflection on the Assistant Commissioner discloses: No man engaged in a work he does not like can preserve many saving illusions about himself. The distaste, the absence of glamour, extend from the occupation to the personality. It is only when our appointed activities seem by a lucky accident to obey the particular earnestness of our temperament that we can taste the comfort of complete self-deception [83].

16

Introduction

Conrad’s philosophical skepticism runs deep here, but more pertinent in terms of this study is how textuality, in this case encrypted communiqués in “Baron Stott-Wartenheim’s official, semi-official, and confidential correspondence” (20), seems to have leached out from diplomatic mail pouches and shaped Secret Agent Δ’s consciousness regarding his vocation in England. This, however, is not the only instance in Conrad’s 1907 novel where we see the obliquities of indirect narration complicating our response to its structural intricacy. It might be said, in fact, that textuality constitutes the story’s usurping force, constantly obfuscating how we should approach and interpret it. Examples of this pattern proliferate throughout The Secret Agent, which at times seems choked with disgust at the profusion of print media and their betrayal of “the truth of things” (229). Near the top of Conrad’s list are tabloids. Among the potpourri of “disreputable rubbish” cluttering Verloc’s shop window we consequently find mentioned “old copies of obscure newspapers, badly printed, with titles like The Torch, The Gong— rousing titles” (29, 3), and Chief Inspector Heat worries that his clandestine informant’s intended confession might “make no end of a row in the papers, which ... appeared to him by a sudden illumination as invariably written by fools for the reading of imbeciles” (154). Most damning of all, however, is the report in the novel’s final chapter that, while “Perfect Anarchist” Michaelis is composing his biography divided into three parts titled “‘Faith, Hope, Charity’” (221), Winnie Verloc’s suicide after killing her husband is summed up by the journalistic cant, “‘An impenetrable mystery seems destined to hang for ever over this act of madness or despair’” (224). Conrad equates such platitudinous evasions and rhetoric with the soft-core pornography featured in Verloc’s window display and the sloganeering pamphlets advocating working-class revolution written by the womanizing Alexander Ossipon, who callously abandons Winnie Verloc in her hour of need. What The Secret Agent presents, then, is a vertiginous tangle of textual and diegetic representations through which it is difficult to pick our way. The metaphor that seems most germane to the text as a whole is innocent Stevie’s “pastime of drawing ... coruscations of innumerable circles suggesting chaos and eternity” (174; see also 34), an emblem that has led some critics such as Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan to maintain that Conrad is the true anarchist in his ironically subtitled A Simple Tale (“‘Sudden Holes’” 215). 17

Introduction

The suspicion that both textuality and orality invariably betray their subject is even more pronounced in Under Western Eyes, which uses the thematic framework of espionage and its attendant world of dissemblance to expose how we are constructed by others’ discourses about us. The work’s opacity is thickened by Conrad’s use of an intradiegetic narrator who distrusts the mediatory sufficiency of language. To the polyglot “teacher of languages,” whose story is based on Kirylo Sidorovitch Razumov’s journal or diary, “words ... are the great foes of reality,” and “there comes a time when ... man appears a mere talking animal not much more wonderful than a parrot” (5). Despite his wariness of Russians’ alleged volubility, especially in the expatriate environs of Geneva where ousted revolutionaries like Peter Ivanovitch and the bizarre Madame de S — substitute loquacity for action, the narrator is constantly on the lookout for “some key-word ... that could stand at the back of all the words covering the pages; a word which, if not truth itself, may perchance hold truth enough to help the moral discovery which should be the object of every tale” (49). Clearly the elderly, cautious, and Westernized teacher of languages, who until age nine grew up in St. Petersburg, retains a lingering faith in the dream of logocentrism, but as a guide to construing Razumov’s tortured confession he is at best a speculative, unreliable, and deracinated hermeneut. What he does succeed in recording, however, is a tale that enacts its own indecipherability, thereby expanding the compass of much subsequent British espionage fiction. The custodian of Razumov’s journal professes not to understand its author’s motives for composing the document (“It is inconceivable that he should have wished any human eye to see it” [6], he writes, thus blindly impugning his own ethics in redacting the private confession), but what the teacher of languages also fails to grasp is how the protagonist has been perpetually a prisoner of heteroglossia. Apparently the illegitimate son of nobleman Prince K —, Razumov begins his life without any natal ties except to the abstraction of Mother Russia.8 While a third-year student of philosophy at St. Petersburg University, he then finds himself rumored to be “a strong nature — an altogether trustworthy man,” with “a reputation of profundity,” simply because of his default habit of taciturnity during “ardent discussion” among undergraduate peers (7). In the first of many textual ironies, this dual quality of unattachment and silence recommends 18

Introduction

Razumov to Victor Victorovitch Haldin as his refuge after assassinating the autocratic Minister of State Mr. de P —. Before his death, buoyed by an inflated impression of his betrayer, Haldin communicates by letter to his sister Nathalie in Geneva that Razumov represents one of those “‘Unstained, lofty, and solitary existences’” that redeem the history of revolutions from “‘narrow-minded fanatics’” (97). This hyperbolic and errant profile of her brother’s supposed friend in turn becomes the template for others’ epistolary constructions of the protagonist, who all the while has accepted a commission by Councillor Gregory Matvieitch Mikulin to spy on clandestine plots being hatched at the Château Borel. Additional letters from Father Zosim and a fellow student at St. Petersburg University follow Razumov to “La Petite Russie” in Switzerland, all based on the circulation of gossip and all proclaiming him in Peter Ivanovitch’s formulation “‘a superior nature’” (149). Protesting vehemently to the teacher of languages that he is “‘not a young man in a novel’” (132), Razumov struggles against the reality that as a “‘perfect blank’” or tabula rasa (196), in Sophia Antonovna’s astute judgment, he already has been inscribed by the “subtly mendacious dialogues” of those who have mistaken his self-interested reserve and impartiality as the sign of one who “‘inspires confidence’” (215, 35). The latter estimation, it should be noted, is the jejune appraisal of General T —, maniacally devoted to quashing rebellion or dissent wherever they rear their head in czarist Russia. Under Western Eyes thus insistently tasks us to disentangle narrativity from veracity. That way of trying to capture the novel’s crux, however, is still too pat because it bypasses the susceptibility of individual consciousness to a public ideology or rhetoric. When debating how to proceed regarding Haldin’s seeking sanctuary in his rooms, for example, Razumov comes to a convenient epiphany or “conversion” amid the nocturnal snows blanketing St. Petersburg: In Russia, the land of spectral ideas and disembodied aspirations, many brave minds have turned away at last from the vain and endless conflict to the one great historical fact of the land. They turned to autocracy for the peace of their patriotic conscience as a weary unbeliever, touched by grace, turns to the faith of his fathers for the blessing of spiritual rest. Like other Russians before him, Razumov, in conflict with himself, felt the touch of grace upon his forehead [26].

19

Introduction

This extradiegetic passage is followed by several paragraphs of interior monologue, reminiscent of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866), in which Razumov persuades himself that “absolute power should be preserved” (27). The balm of “grace” descending on not his soul but forehead, seat of decisions regarding right and wrong, constitutes a sophistic self-deception by which this Judas figure attempts to exonerate his already decided course of action regarding Victor Haldin. Once again a culturally disseminated discourse operates to falsify Razumov’s independent agency and autonomy. Subsequently he will learn, as “a conspirator everlastingly on his guard against self-betrayal in a world of secret spies” (133), that there is no reprieve from the pangs of a burdened conscience. It thus is oddly appropriate when the thuggish double agent Nikita Necator deafens Razumov upon his self-disclosure to the “inner revolutionary circle” gathered at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Geneva (217), thereby rendering him immune to further misrepresentation while also installing the crippled son of Russia as an iconic oracle in his homeland. Conrad’s achievement points the way toward a far more sophisticated narratology than either Childers or Buchan employ. As we approach Eric Ambler’s and Graham Greene’s novels of the 1930s, one other author must be recognized as having decisively influenced the future direction of espionage fiction. In Ashenden: or, The British Agent (1928), a series of interconnected short stories based upon his own activities in the Secret Intelligence Service during World War I, W. Somerset Maugham portrayed institutionalized spying in a way that leaves firmly behind the adventureoriented ethos of The Thirty-Nine Steps and anticipates the anti-romanticism of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. Maugham’s eponymous protagonist, a writer (though not of detective stories) recruited into intelligence-gathering because his profession and fluency in several European languages make for excellent cover, admits that “a great deal of his work was uncommonly dull” (6). Bureaucratization, moreover, prevents Ashenden from grasping the totality to which his role contributes: [I]t might be, he mused, that the great chiefs of the secret service in their London offices, their hands on the throttle of this great machine, led a life full of excitement; they moved their pieces here and there, they saw the pattern woven by the multitudinous threads ... [,] they made a picture out of the various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle; but it must be confessed that for the small fry like

20

Introduction himself to be a member of the secret service was not as adventurous an affair as the public thought. Ashenden’s official existence was as orderly and monotonous as a City clerk’s. He saw his spies at stated intervals and paid them their wages; ... he waited for the information that came through and dispatched it; ... he kept his eyes and ears open; and he wrote long reports which he was convinced no one read till having inadvertently slipped a jest into one of them he received a sharp reproof for his levity. The work he was doing was evidently necessary, but it could not be called anything but monotonous [101].

As the middle-aged colonel known only by the letter “R.,” the prototype for Ian Fleming’s “M.,” assigns him missions in Geneva, Naples, Basle, Lucerne, and Petrograd, the last being an effort to thwart the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Ashenden struggles to stave off boredom by immersing himself in the sometimes droll, often grotesque, and always touching private lives of those whom he meets while performing his appointed duties. The equation Maugham draws, then, between the writer of fiction and the surreptitious agent of espionage is one that Ambler, Greene, and le Carré all understood well. In this context Maugham’s preface to his ensemble of stories warrants at least brief attention. Composed some twenty years later, the piece indicts a narrow or strict adherence to mimeticism because “fact is a poor storyteller” (vii). The fiction writer’s mandate, he argues, is to introduce “ingenious patterns” of experience and perception because “in life as a general rule things tail off ineffectively” (ix, viii). Thus, although “[t]he work of an agent in the Intelligence Department is on the whole extremely monotonous” and “[a] lot of it ... uncommonly useless,” Maugham felt it incumbent on him to highlight “what is curious, telling[,] and dramatic,” adding that “if it is a success [the reader] accepts it as true” (x). The Coleridgean notion of art’s promoting a “willing suspension of disbelief ” obviously informs Maugham’s aesthetic, such that, even though his own way of telling stories does not match Conrad’s, he is equally sensitive to the necessity of artifice in fiction and the subtlety of intradiegetic narration. Before bringing this introduction to a close, I should clarify a few points about the ensuing study’s organization and choice of authors. First, the novelists examined here, with one exception, are those whom I regard as typifying the “existential” or “serious” spy thriller (Denning 34, 61). The writer who gave the world James Bond is not represented simply because his productions, although entertaining and clever, are parodies of 21

Introduction

the genre that have received more than their due share of notoriety. Second, a kind of chronological clustering will be evident among the titles featured for coverage in individual chapters. Eric Ambler’s Epitaph for a Spy (1938) and A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939), along with Graham Greene’s The Confidential Agent (1939), thus exemplify the emergence of the modern espionage narrative just before World War II; Our Man in Havana (1958), The Intercom Conspiracy (1969), The Human Factor (1978), and Len Deighton’s “triptych” reveal its development during the Cold War; John le Carré’s The Tailor of Panama (1996), The Constant Gardener (2001), and A Most Wanted Man (2008) demonstrate his masterful reinvention of the genre after the Cold War’s end; and the novels by Stella Rimington and Charles Cumming, all of which have appeared since 2001, stage spy fiction’s entering a new phase in what some have termed the Age of Terrorism. Third, while analyzing these texts, concentrating of course on their narrational dynamics, I also address certain critical issues that they involve or project. This latitude is perhaps most manifest in my fifth chapter on Rimington where I try to understand why her avowedly feminist challenge to the masculinist or androcentric tradition of espionage fabulation goes awry. Such divagations, however, are limited by what the primary texts themselves thematize. Finally, it may be asked why I have restricted my range of investigation to British practitioners in this genre. Although it is undoubtedly true that “spying is at least the world’s second oldest profession” (Cawelti and Rosenberg 3), the fact remains that neither The Iliad ’s story of the Trojan horse nor the biblical account of Joshua’s sending spies into Canaan nor sketchy records of Christopher Marlowe’s undercover adventures nor James Fenimore Cooper’s The Spy (1821) engenders a literary tradition. Thanks to the initial forays of Childers, Buchan, and Conrad, we have an established line of a genre’s historical evolution over the past century. To investigate its narratological mutations will be the goal of this study’s ensuing chapters.

22

1

Eric Ambler’s Revisionist Thrillers Below a grainy photograph of the owlishly bespectacled author, then eighty years old, the back dust jacket of Mysterious Press’s 1990 revised hardcover edition of Eric Ambler’s The Dark Frontier (1936), the first of his eighteen novels, proclaims that he “virtually created the modern espionage story.” More than a decade later, copywriters for Black Lizard paperback reprints of ten other Ambler texts, all published in the Vintage Crime series,1 hedged their bet with a boilerplate caption averring that he “is often said to have invented the modern suspense novel” and thereby “paved the way for ... John [l]e Carré, Len Deighton, and Robert Ludlum.” Allowing for the hyperbole to which such blurbs are famously prone, their different ways of categorizing Ambler’s fiction suggest his work’s elusive quality. In 1972, emphasizing the murky taxonomy of popular genres, Julian Symons argued that “the detective story, along with the police story, the spy story, and the thriller, makes up part of the hybrid creature we call sensational literature” (4). Whether we regard Ambler as revamping either the nineteenth-century adventure tale or novel of intrigue, he remains undervalued as a surprisingly cunning craftsman of narrational technique. The few scholars who have discussed Ambler at length concur that he intentionally set out to transform the conventional thriller that had ensured widespread success for John Buchan, Dornford Yates, and particularly E. Phillips Oppenheim, the prolific and self-styled “prince of storytellers.”2 During the thirties their genre’s reputation was none too high. “Unlike classical detective novels,” observes Peter Lewis, “most thrillers did not possess even a modicum of literary respectability and were generally regarded as true pulp” (Eric Ambler 11). What Ambler found especially repugnant in Oppenheim’s productions, as well as those churned out by 23

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction

his numerous imitators, was their predilection for pasteboard heroes and villains caught up in melodramatic plots. From the vantage point of Here Lies: An Autobiography half a century later, Ambler makes clear why, setting out in 1935 to compose The Dark Frontier as a parody, he was convinced that after these precursors “the thriller had nowhere to go but up” (121): It was the villains who bothered me most. Power-crazed or coldly sane, master criminals or old-fashioned professional devils, I no longer believed a word of them. Nor did I believe in their passions for evil and plots against civilization. As for their world conspiracies, they appeared to me no more substantial than toy balloons, over-inflated and squeaky to the touch, with sad old characters rattling about inside like dried peas. The hero did not seem to matter much. He was often only a fugitive, a hare to the villain’s hounds, prepared in the end to turn pluckily and face his pursuers. He could be a tweedy fellow with steel-grey eyes and gun pads on both shoulders or a moneyed dandy with a taste for adventure. He could also be a xenophobic ex-officer with a nasty anti– Semitic streak. None of that really mattered. All he really needed to function as hero was abysmal stupidity combined with superhuman resourcefulness and unbreakable knuckle bones [120–21].

At a time when he was absorbed by the writings of Carl Gustav Jung, Friedrich Nietzsche, Oswald Spengler, and Fyodor Dostoevsky, what Ambler derogates as “antique fantasies” of “the old secret[-]service adventure thriller” seemed ludicrously superannuated (Dark Frontier xiii). Fueled by an impulse to debunk such stereotypes, his inaugural novel therefore features protagonist Professor Henry J. Barstow, an acclaimed but timid physicist at the University of London who, after an unsought invitation to accept a post as technical adviser to international armaments manufacturer Cator and Bliss, finds himself mesmerized by a potboiler extolling the daring exploits of “Conway Carruthers, Department Y.” Subsequently suffering amnesia as the result of an automobile accident, Barstow then virtually becomes the intrepid Carruthers, even down to the detail — if we credit the narrative’s controlling third-person voice — of his being said to have “steel-grey eyes” (35). There can be little doubt as to the target of Ambler’s lampoon: Barstow qua Carruthers has succumbed to the escapist allure of a bygone era’s pulp heroes. The narrator drives the point home by saying, “Free from the fears and the vanities, the blunderings and the short-comings [sic] of ordinary men, he [Carruthers] was of that illustrious company which numbers Sherlock Holmes, Raffles, Arsène Lupin, Bulldog 24

1. Eric Ambler’s Revisionist Thrillers

Drummond[,] and Sexton Blake among its members” (30). Included in this wry comment are luminaries of both detective and espionage fiction, but Ambler’s first novel looks forward to his later texts by more than just its parodic challenge to traditional characterization in the thriller. A brief examination of The Dark Frontier may help to substantiate this claim. Although Ambler opined that halfway through the book his original conception went astray (xiii–xiv), he accomplished more than he knew. First, as already implied, in Barstow/Carruthers the former engineer turned novelist fashioned a portrait of considerable psychological complexity, overturning the genre’s penchant for facile and one-dimensional heroes. Even amoral Simon Groom, the foreign representative of Cator and Bliss who prides himself on taking a “Nietzschean view” of the emerging world trade in nuclear technology (16), achieves individuation as Professor Barstow’s antagonist. Second, in his plot of a small Balkan nation’s acquiring the expertise for producing an atomic bomb to enhance its geopolitical sway, Ambler realized his stated goal of reinvigorating the thriller by aligning it with “contemporary reality” (xiii). Third, as Michael Denning demonstrates, Ambler, along with Graham Greene in such “entertainments” as A Gun for Sale (1936), The Confidential Agent (1939), and The Ministry of Fear (1943), introduced “seriousness” into popular fiction by incorporating a dimension of skeptical critique (see also Harper 32– 34). This new attribute, contends Denning, takes an identifiably modern form: It manifests itself ... as a concern for moral dilemmas, for the ambiguities and uncertainties of ethical behavior, and for the questions of loyalty and betrayal. Unlike earlier thrillers, with their straightforward moral schema which designated hero and villain as good and evil and authorized the actions of the hero by the transcendent value of the nation and his sporting observance of the rules of the game, the “serious” thriller takes as its subject the uncertainty of the authority for the protagonist’s actions, the lack of a clear-cut “good,” and the ensuing issues of innocence and experience, of identity and point of view [63].

Significantly, fewer than twenty pages into his novel Ambler invests The Dark Frontier with seriousness by disrupting its mimetic framework via an interpolated set-piece on warmongering, a maneuver that reveals his authorial struggle against the modernist imperative of impersonal narration. Because this passage bears out David Lodge’s point about diegetic 25

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction

foregrounding, already noted in my introduction, its rhetorical function should be recognized. In a lengthy excursus Ambler inserts the following speech about the world’s “balance of power” as a rationale for nuclear expansionism: But hadn’t people been saying that for hundreds of years? Hadn’t Cardinal Wolsey prescribed it as the foreign policy of Henry the Eighth? Hadn’t every European statesman since that time striven for it? Weren’t they still striving for it with their pacts and treaties and alliances? And yet there had been wars; and it looked too as if there always would be wars. What else could you expect while war was still regarded as a feasible means of settling international disputes? What else could you expect while peoples wanting peace still believed that “national safety” lay in preparedness for war? What else could you expect from a balance of power adjusted in terms of land, of arms, of man-power and of materials; in terms, in other words, of money? The actual outbreaks of wars might be heralded by exchanges of ultimatums, expressions of hatred and defensive mobilisations, but the real wars were made by those who had the power to upset the balance, to tamper with international money and money’s worth; those who, in satisfying their private ends, created the economic and social conditions that bred war. The largest item in national budgets today was for past and future wars. It seemed almost as if war were the greatest and most important activity of government. ... That such a situation had been inevitable no one realised better than the Professor. Science had taken the ordinary man unawares. Too late now to talk of new world orders. His destruction was imminent. He still drove his Ford, or his Citroën, or his Opel, or his Morris-Cowley; his wife still washed his children and darned his socks; but in a laboratory in a tiny Eastern European state, in the board-room of Messrs. Cator & Bliss, ... other men were busy knocking the props away [25–26].

By its numerous parallel constructions and flourishes, the first paragraph resonates as a “writerly” peroration whose tone deviates from the neutral objectivity associated with The Dark Frontier’s dominant third-person point of view. Such an interpolation, in other words, deliberately interrupts interpellation. The second paragraph feints at returning us to Professor Barstow’s narrational consciousness, but the text’s posture of verisimilitude or mimetic representation has already been temporarily broken. Although Ambler’s The Intercom Conspiracy (1969), owing to its later composition and his intervening years as a screenwriter,3 exemplifies such diegetic foregrounding more fully than Epitaph for a Spy (1938) or A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939), in all three thrillers he is fond of employing the device 26

1. Eric Ambler’s Revisionist Thrillers

of indirect or oblique narration. Ambler characteristically intensifies the hermeneutical drama of his novels by choosing for protagonists a naïf or accidental bystander who suddenly finds himself enmeshed in circumstances that outstrip his powers of comprehension. Josef Vadassy, the 32year-old teacher of languages and man without a country in Epitaph for a Spy, is an early prototype. And what this antiheroic protagonist learns in the course of his initiation is exactly what the narrator of The Dark Frontier says about Professor Barstow: “One half of your brain became an inspired reasoning machine, while the other wandered over dark frontiers into strange countries where adventure, romance[,] and sudden death lay in wait for the traveller” (8–9).

Epitaph for a Spy: Detection Derailed Two features of Ambler’s third novel warrant immediate notice. The first is that Epitaph for a Spy presents a narrator/protagonist who is not a willing agent of any ideologically driven campaign of espionage but merely an innocent deprived by history of a foundational identity. When amateur photographer Vadassy, on vacation at the Hotel de la Réserve in St. Gatien, finds himself accused of having snapped surveillance images of seaside artillery installations at nearby Toulon, he is arrested and threatened with deportation — in his case a penalty tantamount to death — unless he cooperates with Michel Beghin, an investigator with the Sûreté Générale attached to France’s Department of Naval Intelligence, in verifying the actual spy among the Réserve’s other ten guests. Vadassy has no alternative but to comply because, as a result of the Treaty of Trianon (1920) that merged large sections of Croatia-Slovakia into Hungary, he is no longer a citizen of Yugoslavia but a persona non grata— the uprooted “Other” who, as Vittorio Frigerio has noted, is often the manipulated pawn in post– World War I popular fiction. Thus, although Vadassy has rehearsed a factually accurate narrative of his displacement, he knows that its recitation “never failed to arouse officialdom’s worst instincts” (12). The second important anomaly of Epitaph for a Spy is that its main action and setting replicate those of the classical detective story. As a backdrop the Hotel de la Réserve parallels the Golden Age whodunit’s country manor house but 27

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with the difference, as Brett F. Woods observes, that it constitutes “a microcosm of the many tensions tearing Europe apart at the end of the 1930s” (“Beyond the Balkans”). Within this latently charged setting Vadassy, under directions from Beghin, must flush out the guest who mistakenly swapped a Zeiss Ikon Contax camera identical to his own that contained incriminating exposures of the Toulon fortifications. Ambler’s disenfranchised narrator is compelled to play the role of undercover counter-espionage operative, but what he discovers in the process is how poorly his powers of logical deduction serve him at a moment of acute personal crisis. By so framing his 1938 thriller, Ambler effectively scuttles the epistemology of mainstream detective fiction. He dismantles this genre in part by exposing Vadassy’s fallacious assumptions about the kind of person who fits his preconceived notion of a spy, but Ambler goes further by demonstrating that ratiocination is unequal to the task of penetrating those subtleties of self-invention by which all of us fictionalize our lives and project public identities. Both points are borne out by Vadassy’s way of pursuing his mission. Beginning with a list of those staying at the hotel, a list supplied by Beghin and indexed by nationality, though the “names became ciphers” (37), Ambler’s protagonist struggles to detect a plausible culprit. His suspicion first lights on Herr Emil Schimler because Vadassy discovers that the man’s real name is Paul Heinberger, whose dissembled identity points to “Schimler” as the guilty party, yet Ambler’s reluctant sleuth is still besieged by doubts: Heinberger was Schimler. He must be arrested without delay. On what charge? Giving the police a false name? The police had his correct name. Emil Schimler — German — Berlin. A waiter had told me that his name was Heinberger. Was it an offense to tell people that one’s name was Heinberger if one’s name was really Schimler?... Yet I could not quite rid myself of the suspicion that the look on Schimler’s face had nothing to do with cameras or photographs. There was, too, something about the man, something about his voice, the look of him, that... But then you couldn’t expect a spy to look like a spy — however a spy was supposed to look. He didn’t advertise his trade [59].

Immediately after this reflection Vadassy imagines an international cabal of anonymous bureaucrats who serve as a “central clearing-house” for the raw data supplied by spies (60), intimating that his cognitive dissonance about Schimler/Heinberger arises from the young Slovak’s vic28

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timization upon the emergence of a new world order intent on the gathering of covert intelligence. (Heinberger, like Vadassy, turns out to be a refugee who, having fallen under proscription, is deprived of autonomous agency.) Diegetically, in other words, Ambler is forcing us to recognize the contingency that stymies his narrator’s ability to single out the spy. If Vadassy’s acuity in detection, however, is limited by naïveté, conditioned by his experience as a stateless non-person, he is all the more confounded by the ease with which the Réserve’s other guests impose credible fictions of themselves. As one whom modern history has cast into limbo, Vadassy readily accepts the disguises in terms of which his fellow vacationers masquerade. He thus credits self-representations that young Mary and Warren Skelton are a congenial American sister and brother awaiting their parents’ arrival in Europe; that Albert Köche epitomizes the leisure-loving Swiss hotel manager badgered by his shrewish wife Suzanne; that Major Herbert Clandon-Hartley is a garrulous British veteran of World War I matched with a taciturn spouse named Maria; that Monsieur Robert Duclos, who condescends via the tilt of his prince-nez monocle, figures as a French business magnate; that portly and comical Walter Vogel, accompanied by Frau Hulde, is a stereotypical Swiss office manager; and, finally, that irascible André Roux, leagued with paramour Odette Martin, typecasts himself as a French libertine given to conquest at the billiards table as in the boudoir. Each of these impressions, however, proves spectacularly wrong. The Skeltons turn out to be cousins secretly “living in sin” in order not to forfeit an inheritance from their grandfather (210); Köche an adept partisan who has befriended courier Emil Schimler/Paul Heinberger; Clandon-Hartley merely a loan-seeking pensioner; Duclos, according to the vigilant Köche, a semi-deranged “‘clerk employed in the sanitary department of a small municipality near Nantes’” (254); the Vogels, who “‘always ... laughed too much’” (258), Nazi collaborators; and Roux, actually one Arsène Marie Verrue, a French-Italian spy whose career can be summed up by the epitaph, “‘He needed the money’” (250). Of these revelations, which surface only when the entire cast of characters is assembled in the hotel’s drawing room, Vadassy comments: I had talked to all of them, watched them, listened to them and now — now I knew no more about them than I had known on the day — what ages ago it seemed — when I had come to the Réserve.... I had learned something of the

29

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction lives of some of them. But what did I know about their thoughts, about the minds that worked behind those masks? ... You could never get at the whole man any more than you could see four faces of a cube. The mind was a figure of an infinite number of dimensions, a fluid in ceaseless movement, unfathomable, unaccountable [209].

Although it might seem that Ambler is simply reprising the worn theme of appearance versus reality, his 1938 text’s emphasis on its protagonist’s dispossessed status reinforces the idea that, “lies and more lies” being the era’s new currency (257), the putative truth of anything is at best prismatic. Apropos of Journey into Fear (1940), Peter Wolfe has posited that Ambler believes in “the contagion of falsehood” (Alarms 18). Less abstractly, however, the author of Epitaph for a Spy is acknowledging how problematic detection is in the real world, especially one beset by all the political duplicity practiced throughout Europe in the anxiety-ridden thirties. An assignment that Ambler received one year after the release of his third novel reveals how disposed he was, in light of contemporaneous events, to sabotage the presuppositions of old-fashioned detective fiction. Commissioned by a magazine titled The Sketch to draft “six co[z]y little murder mysteries” while awaiting military orders during the “phony war”4 that ended with the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in August 1939 (Waiting 5, 6), Ambler composed the narratives, each exactly thirteen pages in length, that upon their republication in 1991 he dubbed “The Intrusions of Dr. Czissar.” Essentially satirizing how reductive the traditional detective story had become in the hands of its myriad practitioners, the series features his eponymous hero, a Czech refugee who had been a distinguished criminologist before fleeing to London from Prague, in solving Scotland Yard’s most baffling cases. The consummate flair with which the expatriate sleuth proceeds to reconstruct his chain of reasoning regarding the culprits hints not so much at the crimes’ impenetrability as the contrived nature of their resolution. Dr. Czissar’s quirky habit of announcing his presence before Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner by clicking his heels and saying, “Attention, please!” before divulging his almost clairvoyant insights projects Ambler’s skepticism about the “parlor game” of literary detection (Waiting 4). The half dozen “murder mysteries” themselves have a frothy insubstantiality; what counts is the novelist’s demonstration of their arbitrary endings. 30

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Though a refugee like Dr. Czissar, the protagonist of Epitaph for a Spy is hardly a credentialed counterpart. When Beghin confiscates his passport during Vadassy’s arrest, the teacher of languages realizes his Kafkaesque predicament of having fallen under suspicion: “Officially he did not exist; he was an abstraction, a ghost” (22). Lacking a recognized national identity, Vadassy is easily misled by the imposture of others at the Hotel de la Réserve. Just as importantly, Ambler conscripts the reader into his anti-hero’s plight. No more than the deracinated Slovak are we able to see through the guests’ fabrications, and like him we tend to overlook, because of the text’s proliferation of ostensible clues, Mary Skelton’s observation that Roux as a Frenchman “‘seems to have a very peculiar accent’” (105). In this, of course, the novelist is exploiting conventional aspects of the thriller, which unlike the detective story involves laying false trails and obfuscating “evidence,” but the cumulative effect is to make us question our grounds for trusting the sufficiency of ratiocinative deduction. Optical metaphors underscore the perspectival relativity of inference. As an amateur photographer, for example, Vadassy prides himself on his attention to chiaroscuro, the delicate play of shadow in his still-life shots of lizards sunning themselves, whereby “‘the object photographed ... is unimportant’” compared to “‘the way each is lighted and composed’” (19). When confronted, however, with ten negatives of Toulon naval fortifications processed from his camera’s roll of film, Vadassy struggles to construe what the images limn. His experience in this regard parallels a description of the kaleidoscopic scenery he glimpses as a train whisks him along the Côte d’Azur toward St. Gatien: “It is as if you were watching a magic-lantern show with highly colored slides and an impatient operator. The eye has no time to absorb details” (3). A few days later, as the deadline fast approaches for his verifying the fellow guest also in possession of a 35-millimeter Contax, the protagonist invokes another perceptual trope to account for his bungled experiment in the world of criminological detection: Looking back on those next twenty-four hours is, I find, like looking at a stage through the wrong end of a pair of opera-glasses. The people on it are moving, but their faces are too small to see. I must try to turn the glasses the right way round. And yet, when I try to do that the figures are blurred at the edges and distorted. It is only by, so to speak, looking at one portion of the stage at a time that I can see things clearly [118].

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Only in the novel’s sixteenth chapter, no thanks to Vadassy’s ill-fated attempts to emulate Sherlock Holmes, do we and the narrator simultaneously discover the secret histories of several who are billeted at the seaside hotel. Seeing the scene “clearly” now, with “no blurred edges,” he confesses that “it is as if I were looking through a stereoscope at a perfect colored reproduction of the room and of the people in it,” though “it was like seeing dancers through a window that shut out the music. There was a mad solemnity about their antics” (208, 210). Even at this late stage of Epitaph for a Spy the passage’s subjunctive constructions —“It is as if ” and “It was like”— alert us to the provisional cast of Vadassy’s inferences, all of which have been skewed by his probationary status as a man without a country. The novel’s conclusion adds an ironic twist to Ambler’s drama of derailed detection. Having formulated a supposedly infallible plan, Vadassy succeeds only in losing his own camera, while using it as a prop to draw out the spy, before getting mugged by an unknown assailant who has already ransacked his hotel room. All along, however, Beghin has been aware of André Roux’s true identity. Vadassy, in other words, has been of value to the Sûreté Générale only insofar as Beghin could depend on his fumbling novice to lead French counter-espionage agents to the more important quarry of Arsène Marie Verrue’s employer in Toulon. The text’s finale complies with expectations of its genre by detailing the action-filled apprehension of this mastermind, one F. P. Metraux, but we should take seriously Ambler’s declaration in 1951 that his third novel was only “a mild attempt at realism” (263). Rather than writing a mimetic story in the mold of classical detective fiction, the author of Epitaph for a Spy chose instead to emphasize the diegetic chasms that yawn just below the surface of its antitype. In effect, what both Vadassy and we learn together through his trials is the myopia that results from too confident a reliance on the Aristotelian law of non-contradiction in a world where, as Schimler/Heinberger realizes from his reading of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (1872), the Hegelian principle of “‘contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality’” (81; see also 110). The latter dynamic, we might extrapolate further, guides Ambler’s revisionist thrillers, whereas the former imbues those novels whose line of descent is traceable to such progenitors as Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. 32

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A Coffin for Dimitrios: History’s New Logic Noting Ambler’s familiarity with Nietzsche’s oeuvre, Ronald J. Ambrosetti has argued persuasively that an Apollonian/Dionysian dialectic pervades the novelist’s pre–World War II thrillers, such that, like Josef Vadassy in Epitaph for a Spy, Charles Latimer in A Coffin for Dimitrios “comes to the realization that the power of the intellect (as found in logic and the arts) is helpless in the face of action and energy on the scale of cosmic oppositional forces” (43). Ambrosetti’s assessment isolates an important dimension of the two texts. Not long before the climax of Ambler’s earlier novel, when Vadassy is feeling overwhelmed by his baffled efforts at detection, he fantasizes about what it would be like to be in a Parisian park where he “could listen to the rustle of leaves unconscious of the pains of humanity in labor, of a civilization hastening to destruction.” In such an idyllic retreat, Vadassy speculates, one “could contemplate the twentieth-century tragedy unmoved ... except by pity for mankind fighting to save itself from the primeval ooze that welled from its own subconscious being” (185). The passage reveals much about Ambler’s view of the forces at work in the decades between two global cataclysms. Only a year after publishing Epitaph for a Spy, while England was bracing for another eruption of international aggression, Ambler sharpened his invective against what he regarded as history’s frightening new logic. And this time his target was not Cator and Bliss, the international armaments firm that lurks offstage in The Dark Frontier, but rather the Eurasian Credit Trust conglomerate as epitomized by his soulless title character in A Coffin for Dimitrios. With respect to the origins of Dimitrios Makropoulos, the official police dossier in Istanbul is transparently sketchy: “‘Born 1889 in Larissa, Greece. Found abandoned. Parents unknown. Mother believed Rumanian. Registered as Greek subject and adopted by Greek family’” (24). Beginning in 1922, however, the former fig-packer is thought by authorities to have launched a sordid career involving murder, political assassination, extortion, drug-trafficking, and white slavery that eventually leads, as Latimer discovers, to his appointment as a clandestine director of Eurasian Credit Trust. Much later in the novel, by way of suggesting what this man of dubious background and numerous surnames represents, Ambler interjects this striking commentary: 33

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction But it was useless to try to explain him in terms of Good and Evil. They were no more than baroque abstractions. Good Business and Bad Business were the elements of the new theology. Dimitrios was not evil. He was logical and consistent; as logical and consistent in the European jungle as the poison gas called Lewisite and the shattered bodies of children killed in the bombardment of an open town. The logic of Michelangelo’s David, Beethoven’s quartets[,] and Einstein’s physics had been replaced by that of the Stock Exchange Year Book and Hitler’s Mein Kampf [252–53].

Concerning this key passage Ambrosetti observes that “Dimitrios, the international outlaw, is in his own logical way the incarnate paradigm of the age” (23), an epoch that exalts the “will to power” of a Nietzschean Übermensch who thrives “beyond good and evil.” Politics and social Darwinism have superseded theology and Judeo-Christian morality. The larger issue, then, that Ambler examines through his protagonist’s obsessive fascination with Dimitrios is what he articulated only a year later in Journey into Fear— namely, the morass of danger within the quotidian world “waiting to make nonsense of all your comfortable ideas about your relations with time and chance, ready to remind you — in case you had forgotten — that civilisation was a word and that you still lived in the jungle” (70). As though to frame A Coffin for Dimitrios with reference to this motif, the narrator begins by citing “one of those convenient, question-begging aphorisms” often heralded as reflecting Enlightenment wisdom: “A Frenchman named Chamfort, who should have known better, once said that chance was a nickname for Providence.” Fond of contemptuous and rather shallow epigrams, the historical Nicolas Chamfort (1741–1794) serves as Ambler’s stalking-horse for questioning the extent to which “chance does occasionally operate with a sort of fumbling coherence readily mistakable for the workings of a self-conscious Providence” (9). Charles Latimer is his vehicle for probing this philosophical crux. “[A] lecturer in political economy at a minor English university,” with three scholarly books to his credit by age thirty-five, Latimer, “one of the shamefaced few who could make money at the sport,” seeks relief from a “temporary black depression” by writing successful detective novels (10). The casual mention of this point intimates one reason for the protagonist’s consuming interest in Dimitrios. Dissatisfied with his ordered and detached way of life, Latimer yearns to delve into the Dionysian sphere of untrammeled “action and 34

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energy” that lies well outside the conventions of literary detection. The erstwhile foundling turned criminal entrepreneur thus figures as a darkly compelling mystery for the bored professional writer.5 After finishing yet another detective story, therefore, Latimer resigns his university appointment, drafts a fifth novel in Greece, and then travels aimlessly to Turkey for what he hopes will prove a stimulating change of scene. The idea of risk-taking fuels Latimer’s growing curiosity about Dimitrios, but he is ill-prepared to encounter the man himself. This pattern emerges in the narrative’s overall design. Lending credence to Gavin Lambert’s claim that the structure of A Coffin for Dimitrios may be “Ambler’s most brilliant achievement” (112), the first two-thirds is dominated by diegetic accounts of Dimitrios that stir Latimer’s investigative instincts, whereas the largely mimetic final third is capped by his grappling with this formidable adversary for simple survival. A closer examination of these sections, whose arrangement is reminiscent of how Joseph Conrad presents Charlie Marlow’s involvement with Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, may help to illuminate Ambler’s craftsmanship. Just as Kurtz exerts a magnetic hold on Marlow’s imagination through others’ discourse about him, so does Dimitrios increasingly captivate Latimer via secondhand reports about his exploits. The stage is set when Colonel Zia Haki, head of Istanbul’s secret police who professes himself an admirer of Latimer’s pulp fiction and a devotee of romans policiers, offers him the outline of a hackneyed whodunit for further development. Colonel Haki’s overture is only a gambit, however, for verifying whether Latimer might be “interested in real murderers” (21). After learning a few facts about Dimitrios’ shadowy career, Haki’s guest is then permitted to view the corpse of a murder victim mistakenly believed to be that of the fugitive. Not long afterwards, journeying to Smyrna in order to begin retracing the sixteen-year-old trail of Dimitrios, Latimer is assisted by various intermediaries in piecing together clues from police files, on the basis of which he constructs a rough chronology of the elusive Greek’s movements throughout the Levant and Europe. This document soon guides Latimer to Sofia, Geneva, and Paris, in each of which places he hears a long oral history of how “Dimitrios of Izmir” had outwitted one of his earlier associates. In Bulgaria the first to testify is ex-prostitute Irana Preveza, proprietress of a seedy nightclub, who describes Dimitrios as an intimidating pimp who 35

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advanced to facilitating a political coup d’état. Her account is followed by the equally detailed story of retired spy Wladyslaw Grodek in Switzerland, once “‘the most successful professional agent in Europe’” (130), about how he was duped by “Dimitrios Talat” as an underling involved in an international espionage operation. Finally Frederik Petersen, who goes by the alias of “Mr. Peters,” recounts how he and six other members of a drugpeddling ring were betrayed by then heroin-addicted Dimitrios in 1931. Through their supplementarity these profiles constitute a fuller montage of the master criminal than is disclosed by the fragmentary evidence of police dossiers and newspaper stories, but the subject for “the strangest of biographies” that Latimer hopes to write still remains at the end an indecipherable conundrum (34; see also 82–83). Three non-exclusive ways of construing this outcome of insolubility seem plausible. After positing that thrillers “foreground questions of point of view” (80), Denning observes that Ambler usually employs by way of narrators either an “actor telling his own tale after the event” (Epitaph for a Spy) or a “cynical historian showing us the ironic twistings of those who think they are more than puppets” (A Coffin for Dimitrios). The genre’s penchant for diegetic foregrounding, however, subverts both types, leading to “the impossibility of reconciling into either of those supposedly authoritative voices the many stories told about the same event by different actors and observers” (83). Derridean deconstruction provides another approach. If écriture arises from absence, the dream of a vanished logos, and encompasses the endless play of différance, then the signifier “Dimitrios Makropoulos” is always already a phantom or spectral “trace” that exists, as it were, only “under erasure” (sous rature). The avatar that Latimer hopes to demystify in “the strangest of biographies,” consequently, both is and is not the corpse that he initially views on a mortuary slab in Istanbul, for at the end of Ambler’s novel the dying Peters kills Dimitrios, thereby rendering him silently inscrutable forever. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness offers one last paradigm for interpretation. Just as Kurtz remains inexplicable to Marlow because “‘he was hollow at the core’” (97), so Dimitrios haunts Latimer as an insoluble enigma because, having passed “beyond good and evil,” he defined himself by moral vacancy and incommensurate alterity. Despite their methodological uniqueness all these conceptual frameworks share one thing in common: they acknowledge that any intended “life” of 36

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Dimitrios is doomed to indeterminacy, although Ambler’s 1939 narrative itself is hardly inconclusive. If the novelist has any spokesman in A Coffin for Dimitrios, it is the journalist Marukakis, who works as the Sofia correspondent of a French news agency. When sought out by Latimer for assistance in tracking down Dimitrios, Marukakis disabuses the naïve detective-story author of his self-deceptions regarding motive (see note 5) and divulges the one-time petty criminal’s ingratiation of himself to Eurasian Credit Trust. Though Marukakis, and by extension Ambler, concedes that his rhetoric is colored by phrases borrowed from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto (1848),6 he propounds the following indictment of a hypothetical representative of “big business” and Dimitrios’ alliance with its Darwinian practices: But he also knows men like Dimitrios, the dangerous class, the political hangers-on, the grafters and the undercover men, the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of an old society. He himself has no political convictions. For him there is no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest. He believes in the survival of the fittest and the gospel of tooth and claw because he makes money by seeing that the weak die before they can become strong and that the law of the jungle remains the governing force in the affairs of the world. And he is all about us. Every city in the world knows him.... International big business may conduct its operations with scraps of paper, but the ink it uses is human blood ! [92–93].

This embedded critique is characteristic of many “serious” thrillers during the 1930s, which often articulate socialist arraignments of the status quo. A Coffin for Dimitrios stands apart, however, because it draws a “distinction between [the] thriller as escapist genre and as revealer of the truth of the contemporary world” (Hopkins 157). In the end Latimer discovers that detective fiction is fatuous, falsifying by its rationalist faith the complexity of someone such as Dimitrios, who epitomizes how “chaos and anarchy masquerade as order and enlightenment” (303). This discovery nevertheless does not prevent him, finally, from longing to return to the illusionary realm of an escapist aesthetic. “The story of Dimitrios had no proper ending” (283), writes Ambler, by virtue of his typifying the corruptive “principle of expediency” that the novelist sees as regulating society worldwide (253). Interestingly, it is the detestable Peters, given to justifying his illicit career by sanctimoniously 37

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equating determinism with the arcane workings of Providence, who tries to convince Latimer that he is wearing moralistic blinders: “‘The difference between Dimitrios and the more respectable type of successful businessman is only a difference of method — legal method or illegal method. Both are in their respective ways equally ruthless’” (204). Although Latimer repudiates this pronouncement as rubbish, he yet consents to participating with Peters, albeit at no financial gain to himself, in an attempt to blackmail Dimitrios for a million French francs. In the thriller’s climactic scene the former figpacker, who since his days on the wharves of Smyrna has metamorphosed into “a picture of distinguished respectability” (269), mortally wounds Peters before dying. Such a dénouement satisfies the genre’s requirements by implying that justice eventually triumphs through evil’s self-cancellation. On the novel’s final page, however, all that Latimer craves is the opportunity to weave still another escapist fantasy redolent of Edwardian times: His last book had been a trifle heavy. He must inject a little more humour into this one. As for the motive, money was always, of course, the soundest basis. A pity that wills and life insurance were so outmoded. Supposing a man murdered an old lady so that his wife should have a private income. It might be worth thinking about. The scene? Well, there was always plenty of fun to be got out of an English country village, wasn’t there? The time? Summer[,] with cricket matches on the village green, garden parties at the vicarage, the clink of teacups and the sweet smell of grass on a July evening. That was the sort of thing people liked to hear about. It was the sort of thing that he himself would like to hear about [304].

Such are Latimer’s thoughts on board the Orient Express en route eastward toward Belfort near the German-Swiss border. Like the disillusioned Vadassy in Epitaph for a Spy fancifully imagining a peaceful park in Paris, Latimer nostalgically longs for a haven from the grotesque realities to which he has been exposed. The closing six-word paragraph of A Coffin for Dimitrios, however, contains a coded verdict: “The train ran into a tunnel.” Figuratively speaking, tunnel vision guided Charles Latimer in the past (Lewis, Eric Ambler 67), yet even after his encounter with Dimitrios, product of a predatory society, it is all that he wishes to embrace again. Exactly thirty years after the publication of his fifth novel, temporarily resurrecting Latimer in The Intercom Conspiracy, Ambler updates us on the fate that evasion and denial of this kind can expect in the Cold War era. And in doing so he writes what is his most rigorously revisionist thriller. 38

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The Intercom Conspiracy: Ambler’s Metafiction In his autobiography Ambler admits that after his first six novels, while working for the British military’s cinematography unit, he lost “the habit of a concentrated and solitary writing routine.” Something else also required adjustment: “[T]he internal world which had so readily produced the early books had been extensively modified and had to be re-explored” (Here Lies 226). The last comment suggests that the events of World War II and its aftermath necessitated for Ambler a protracted period of coming to terms with their import. Among these developments were the Orwellian nightmare of Stalinist totalitarianism, the exploitation of satellite states in East Europe, the increasing hegemony of the West, the institutionalization of sanctioned espionage, and the chartering of NATO or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949, which shortly thereafter would be deadlocked with Warsaw Pact countries. As international relations devolved into a geopolitical schism involving two ICBM-brandishing coalitions, eclipsing in magnitude the threats posed by such conglomerates as Cator and Bliss or Eurasian Credit Trust in Ambler’s earlier fiction, he needed time to assess what all this portended. Several of the post-war novels that Ambler published before The Intercom Conspiracy indicate how his thematic compass changed. Judgment on Deltchev (1951), though set in the imaginary Balkan territory of Ixania featured in The Dark Frontier, concentrates on Joseph Stalin’s “show trials” of political prisoners in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. The prosecution of Yordan Deltchev, who stands accused of orchestrating a plot to assassinate his nation’s leader, becomes for Ambler’s playwright protagonist an introduction to the more sinister theater of moral compromise enforced by the new ascendancy of ideology. After The Schirmer Inheritance (1953), a similarly convoluted narrative that deals again with the betrayal of collective aspirations in the Balkans, Ambler directed his attention toward the Middle East as well as Southeast Asia in State of Siege (1956), Passage of Arms (1959), and The Light of Day (1962). Manifest in all three texts is a prescient exploration of postcolonial power struggles and the challenges they pose for understanding, if not undoing, the imperialist legacy of what cultural critic Edward Said diagnosed as the construct of “Orientalism.” Given that each of these post-war novels employs a fixed 39

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point of view,7 it comes as a surprise that Ambler suddenly breaks from that pattern. Although earlier he had freely incorporated intradiegetic devices, especially in A Coffin for Dimitrios, Ambler all but effaces himself as author in The Intercom Conspiracy. The result is a uniquely decentered and metafictional work within his corpus. Because of the latter term’s elasticity, a stipulative definition is useful. Metafiction, proposes Patricia Waugh, is “fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality” (2). The crucial element clearly is self-reflexivity, by which I mean the readiness of a fictional text to expose its own fictiveness recursively. Although The Intercom Conspiracy lacks the degree of historiographic selfconsciousness evident in John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) and A. S. Byatt’s Possession: A Romance (1990), it nevertheless investigates in comparably intensive fashion the permeable border usually accepted as separating fiction and reality. More than anything, The Intercom Conspiracy enacts how textuality shapes our perceptions of the world. And toward that end Ambler begins by bracketing, or playfully putting out of play, the whole notion of authorship. As if to put under erasure the attribution on his novel’s title page, Ambler’s “Foreword” casts him as signatory in purveying an unedited and unabridged first manuscript draft. This ploy by itself is not original, harking back to eighteenth-century Gothic fiction, but, rather than serving as a warrant for the ensuing text’s authenticity, Ambler’s preamble highlights its eclectic heterogeneity. Ambler’s doubly recessed ruse for said purpose is that Charles Latimer Lewison, who since his debut in A Coffin for Dimitrios thirty years ago is unmasked as having written his detective stories under a pseudonym, has once again been lured into composing a “real-life” book. Furthermore, Latimer’s efforts while tackling this project, based on his conversations with a neighboring resident of Majorca, have led to his disappearance at Geneva’s Cointrin Airport. Baffled by a lack of leads, Swiss police impound the second draft of Latimer’s unfinished manuscript from his secretary. To her employer’s American publisher, however, Nicole Deladoey surrenders a rough first draft on which Latimer had been collaborating with Theodore Carter, editor of a weekly and rabidly anti–Communist newsletter known as Intercom. This preliminary 40

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document, Ambler’s fiction within a fiction, his “Foreword” describes as follows: ... It was organised in chapters, but very unevenly. A few chapters, the “narrative reconstructions” principally, were fairly well polished; the rest were assemblages of material — letters, transcribed tape recordings, interviews and statements — strung together in chronological order and extensively blue-pencilled by Latimer. It was by noting the passages that Latimer, for his own private security reasons, had deleted from the first draft that Mr. Carter obtained in the end the evidence needed, not only to solve the mystery of the disappearance but also to tell the rest of the story. That first draft, then, was in a sense definitive [9].

Layered ironies abound here, not least in the excerpt’s declaration that this mélange of material is more “definitive” than the presumably unified version appropriated by police authorities. Also advanced is the Borgesian idea that a fictitious character in a metafiction can solve the mysterious vanishing of a fictively famous detective-story writer based on emendations of a hypothetical manuscript. With this scaffolding in place, The Intercom Conspiracy then unfolds. Ambler’s labyrinthine novel is divided into two sections, “The Consortium” and “Sellers’ Market,” followed by Carter’s concluding “Obit and Envoy.” From a transcribed dictation tape we first hear the feisty Canadian journalist responding with scorn to Latimer’s letter seeking his cooperation in “preparing for publication in book form a full and authentic account of the ‘so-called’ Intercom affair” (13). Carter’s bluntly irreverent, derisive, sometimes explosive voice contrasts with the restrained style of Latimer, whose rejoinder is accompanied by a lengthy “narrative reconstruction” he wrote after listening to his retired neighbor in Majorca expatiate on an ingenious scheme. This story, “A Game for Two Players,” constitutes Ambler’s second chapter and profiles the pair of men who hatched the conspiracy that gulled both East and West superpowers. Colonels Brand and Jost, though their concocted names “‘protect the guilty’” (9), are directors of two small nations’ intelligence agencies who, having served in resistance movements during World War II as guerilla combatants against German occupation, find that they specialized too early in the Great Game of international espionage. Barred from further advancement in their careers and marginalized by the growing domination of NATO by the United States of America, they are inspired in their shared 41

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disenchantment by a Mexican forger of rare postage stamps whom the U.S. Treasury Department bought out to discontinue his counterfeiting practice. When the two friends then learn that a pathologically fierce anti–Soviet crusader, Brigadier General Luther B. Novak, has died and that his propagandistic newsletter is up for sale as a conduit for misinformation, they espy “a new game to play,” one that by exploiting the “secrecy fetish” promises to be “more stimulating, perhaps more profitable, than the old” (33, 44). As Intercom’s editor, pending the publication’s change of ownership, Theodore Carter consequently becomes the focus of the two professional spooks’ interest. Ambler’s next installment complicates this plot by introducing an intratextual critique regarding portions of the manuscript comprising The Intercom Conspiracy. The novel’s third chapter thus taps the work’s dimension of self-reflexivity through Carter’s indictment of Latimer’s “narrative reconstruction,” which he has just read, for “flagrant distortions of fact” (53). Subsequent disclosures in the journalist’s “Obit and Envoy,” as attested by Jost, confirm that the fiction writer has embellished his story by interweaving speculation and shrewd guesses. Temporarily, at least, Ambler’s audience is caused to lose its bearings because of the text’s foregrounding of diegesis against mimesis. In this same chapter a further demonstration of textuality’s questionable probity but undoubted power surfaces after Colonels Brand and Jost, acting under the invention of “Arnold Bloch,” purchase Intercom and mandate via periodic letters from Munich that Carter publish highly technical bulletins, each wittily codenamed SESAME, that compromise security interests of the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. alike. Despite the newsletter’s small circulation, such dissemination of classified information predictably alarms the CIA and KGB, which place its editor under surveillance and soon escalate their tactics to more confrontational forms of intimidation. Besides dramatizing Carter’s interrogation by representatives from both spy networks, the novel reveals that conspirators Brand and Jost are clever entrepreneurs who are selling silence to the highest bidder. When they succeed in upping the offers for Intercom from $50,000 to nearly ten times that amount by continuing to publish even more sensitive SESAME releases, the colonels desist in their campaign of “[c]alculated indiscretion” (127). Before all this transpires, however, Ambler explores how the con42

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sortium’s untraceable scheme generates a chain reaction of confusion and suspicion among those whom it entangles. Foremost among the credulous dupes, of course, are the CIA and KGB, whose own practices of deception dictate that they take breaches of confidentiality seriously, but Brand and Jost’s scam also draws into its web other circumstantially involved “players” as well. These include Dr. Martin Bruchner, Director of Intercom Publishing Enterprises A.G., who is astonished by exorbitant offers for the newsletter’s acquisition; Theodore Carter, who, fleeing his office at night after being attacked by a burglar, suffers head injuries in a car accident; and a psychiatrist named Dr. Michel Loriol, who, before treating Carter, had been inclined to view Intercom as “a classic example of transatlantic paranoia” (185). The way in which many of these outcomes are presented in the final chapters of “Sellers’ Market” showcases well the two kinds of textuality that have been in contestation throughout Ambler’s 1969 novel. The first such category is the eighth chapter’s polyphonic medley of transcribed tape interviews (Commissaire Paul-Emil Vauban and Valerie Carter), written statements (Dr. Michel Loriol), and a “verbal communication” (Theodore Carter) that collectively give the impression of depositions in a courtroom. Amid all this raw material, fragments of Latimer’s first manuscript draft, we learn that Carter had planned to publish an exposé titled “An Unholy Alliance” that would have indicted the “iniquitous East-West gangster collaboration” of espionage agencies (197). His crusading piece never appears in Intercom, however, because its new owners promptly liquidate the newsletter. Denied access to this print outlet, Carter asserts in his verbal communication that “my voice is the only authoritative one” (203). The second category of textuality comprising Ambler’s ninth chapter, except for a short addendum by the former editor, consists of another “narrative reconstruction” by Latimer that chronicles Carter’s arrest under Article 301 of the Swiss Criminal Code and smugly dismisses his “wild allegations about a CIA-KGB terrorist plot” even though “bits of it were true” (206). In sharp contrast to that of the pugnacious journalist, this is the voice of distanced and common-sense rationalism. Latimer’s bookish orientation does not permit him, as Jost later comments, to regard the rogue colonels’ machinations as anything more than “‘cloak-and-dagger foolishness’” (237), and so he falls prey to naïve assumptions about the 43

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supposed divide between fiction and reality. In this regard it is more telling than he recognizes that at the end of the novel’s opening chapter Latimer avers that “[t]hrillers and detective stories,” his own prominently among them, are Jost’s favorite reading because “they make him laugh” (19). Theodore Carter, however, is given the last word. After the charges in Geneva against him are dropped, he examines Latimer’s revised first draft in order to solve the fiction-writer’s mysterious disappearance half a year later. By “read[ing] between the lines” and noting two deletions that Latimer had made to prevent identification of “Colonel Jost” (220),8 Carter deduces that he had met Jost earlier in his Intercom office, shortly before receiving instructions about the SESAME bulletins, in the guise of one “Werner Siepen.” The canny editor also realizes that, notwithstanding Latimer’s efforts to expunge certain passages, the novelist’s “game-playing approach to the material” allowed other incriminating clues to escape his blue-penciled cuts (223), causing the colonels alarm when notices of the book’s forthcoming publication start to appear in trade journals. Carter then manages to interview “Señor Siepen” in Majorca, where Jost is enjoying his swindle-financed retirement with a nubile young mistress. Accepting Carter’s pledge of anonymity and silence, the former conspirator discloses that his colleague Brand, now dying of a kidney disease, “‘always thought tactically in terms of ambush and burial’” (238). Shortly after Latimer was kidnapped at Cointrin Airport, we discover, the writer was interred under wet concrete at a construction site somewhere between Ferney-Voltaire and Strasbourg. Roland Barthes’s concept of the demise of the author in postmodernity is thus literalized in Carter’s concluding “Obit and Envoy.” Although not indeterminate in its ending, The Intercom Conspiracy goes far beyond either Epitaph for a Spy or A Coffin for Dimitrios by interrogating the role of fiction in a world where reality and fabulation often seem indistinguishable. Writing the first critical essay on Ambler, Paxton Davis maintains that this elliptical narrative is “an autumnal work of extraordinary virtuosity” (10). I find it difficult to disagree. The fact, then, that since its original release only one major publisher — Farrar, Straus, and Giroux — has reissued The Intercom Conspiracy, now out of print, is unfortunate. By investigating the role of artifice in the Cold War era, Ambler’s novel contributes significantly to our grasp of how we have been 44

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positioned in the present time. When asked in 1975 what themes connected his writing over four decades, he responded that there was only one —“loss of innocence” (“Interview” 287). Because the thriller as a popular genre “had nowhere to go but up” when he began his revisionist experiments, and equally because the form lends itself in Denning’s words to addressing “issues of innocence and experience, of identity and point of view,” it became until his death in 1998 Ambler’s defining métier. Partly because of his decision to embrace the thriller, one suspects, critical attention to Ambler’s work has been relatively meager. Aside from three monographs that appeared in a flurry during the early 1990s, he is the subject of only a few short journal articles published a quarter century after Davis’s 1971 essay in The Hollins Critic.9 Probably another reason for Ambler’s low profile within the scholarly community is his usual categorization as a “spy novelist,” despite the fact that none of his protagonists are spies (though six of his eighteen novels include secret agents) and that his only interest in spycraft — André Roux in Epitaph for a Spy, Wladyslaw Grodek in A Coffin for Dimitrios, and the international “bogeyman” apparatus in The Intercom Conspiracy are examples — lies in its background value for probing an age of systemic deception and mistrust. Acknowledging the hybridity of these and other narratives, one commentator has written that “in the case of Eric Ambler, the static and timeworn classifications of historical criticism must surrender a parochial point of view ... to a larger, more encompassing critique” (Ambrosetti ix). By intentionally transforming the pulp fiction of his day and challenging the established literature of detection, Ambler elevated the thriller to a new level of narrational sophistication. In doing so he clearly paved the way for a more diverse array of writers than publicists are fond of touting as his direct beneficiaries.

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Graham Greene’s World of Loyalty and Betrayal Interviewing Graham Greene in 1949 for a French Catholic periodical, Marcel Moré noted how the author had “sometimes been criticized for using the form of the detective novel to express the metaphysical anxiety and anguish in the world today” (“Table Talk” 24–25). In response Greene courteously but firmly corrected him: Let’s say that my favorite form is the “thriller” rather than the detective novel, strictly speaking. Isn’t the shrewd little Father Brown with his wisdom and clairvoyance a little old-fashioned today? What we’re interested in discovering in the middle of the twentieth century isn’t who the criminal is, but rather to what state of abandon a man hunted down for a crime can be reduced [“Table Talk” 25].

Seemingly not grasping Greene’s distinction between the two genres, Moré then remarked: “Besides, the literature of the old detective novel, while it is vast, scarcely replaces its formulas. How can we not be surprised, for example, by the popularity that an Agatha Christie has always enjoyed with the public[?]” This time Greene’s reply was terser. “It’s ‘honest’ work,” he commented. “That’s all there is to say. Read Eric Ambler instead” (“Table Talk” 25). In addition to revealing his familiarity with Ambler’s work,1 that last sentence sums up Greene’s awareness that the whodunit as typified by G. K. Chesterton’s priest-detective, “shrewd little Father Brown,” was now “a little old-fashioned.” Something fundamental obviously had changed during the years leading up to and following World War II. The key to what had changed is implicit in Greene’s first response to Moré. For a stylist widely heralded for his insistence on the mot juste, it is doubtful that the novelist is guilty of a solecism in opting for the word “abandon.” Both a transitive verb and a noun, it substitutes in the latter 46

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capacity for “abandonment,” at the same time denoting the irrational extremes to which “a man hunted down for a crime can be reduced.” Pressing Greene’s usage further, we can hypothesize that it signifies the state of desperation at which one arrives upon realizing how loyalty, duplicity, and betrayal, all the convoluted apparatus of what in The Confidential Agent he terms “the complicated work of half-trust and half-deceit” (82), preempt one’s volitional freedom. The awareness of some universal dispossession, as T. S. Eliot describes it in Four Quartets (1943), is a well established hallmark of modernism, and in his ninth novel “Greene imports into the thriller ... the sense of desolation and impending doom” associated with poetry of the 1920s and 1930s (Coates 53). The task of plumbing this spiritual Angst involved personal experience as well. In A Sort of Life, his 1971 autobiography, Greene recounts how as a boy of thirteen he knew “the struggle of conflicting loyalties” as the headmaster’s son at Berkhamsted School. “Or was it just then,” he asks rhetorically, “that I had suffered from what seemed to me a great betrayal?” (59). Already the concept of loyalty is imbricated with that of betrayal, as though one were a coefficient of the other. Later in the same work Greene writes, apropos of his endeavors in the Secret Intelligence Service, “I suppose too that every novelist has something in common with a spy: he watches, he overhears, he seeks motives and analyses character, and in his attempt to serve literature he is unscrupulous” (103). For this to occur, he adds, there must exist “a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer” (134). Recalling the image during a 1978 interview, John le Carré, who on another occasion admitted that he was “enormously influenced by Greene” (“Secret World” 70), elaborated by saying, “And that is the strain: that you must abstract from relationships and yet at the same time engage in them. There you have, I think, the real metaphysical relationship between the writer and the spy” (“Hong Kong” 47). For the sake of loyalty to a professional calling, the novelist must be duplicitous, his or her betrayal of human ties finding its justification in the artistic demand for credibility. The author of espionage narratives, then, is often an illusionist whose work masks a serious exploration of the flexible border separating fiction from reality. Because Greene is the first British novelist after Conrad and Maugham to focus on spies as protagonists, this chapter will examine in some detail three of his contributions to the genre. 47

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The Confidential Agent: “Shadow of Abandonment” When compared with what usually are considered Greene’s “major” novels, The Confidential Agent may seem oddly marginal.2 Unlike such better-known works as The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948), The Quiet American (1954), A Burnt-Out Case (1961), and The Honorary Consul (1973), it does not address in depth any of his characteristic themes — the theological mystery of grace, the ambiguity of love versus pity, the entanglements of postcolonial intervention, the recuperation of existential purpose, and the moral dilemma of responsibility for others. To this can be added the fact that its author categorized The Confidential Agent as an “entertainment,” a designation that pigeonholed it along with Stamboul Train (1932), A Gun for Sale (1936), and The Ministry of Fear (1943) as a type of fiction that gave priority to the development of plot rather than character. Further qualifying the text’s standing within Greene’s corpus are the circumstances of its composition. Norman Sherry reports that in 1938 Greene methodically cranked out 2,000 words per day in the mornings for six weeks, all the while fueling his creative effort with Benzedrine, before laboring more deliberately on The Power and the Glory— at his customary stint of 500 words — during the afternoons (2:14). Given these factors it perhaps is unsurprising that Greene’s story about “D.,” a former lecturer in medieval French literature who tries unsuccessfully to negotiate a coal contract in Great Britain on behalf of his unnamed socialist country (Republican Spain), is not as widely read as his “mature” work. If we recontextualize The Confidential Agent, however, its stature grows. Repudiating the simplistic “Us”/“Them” binary of earlier adventure tales, Greene reveals how it exploits an ethnocentric premise of cultural superiority while ignoring humanity’s shared plight between two cataclysmic wars. Far more keenly than any he encounters in an England still basking in Edwardian isolationism, prolonged by Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement, D. understands that “it was as if the whole world lay in the shadow of abandonment” (72). The metaphor, of course, is quintessential Greene. Bespeaking his skeptical vision, akin to Thomas Hardy’s, of Earth as a blighted planet, it conducts us immediately into 48

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“Greeneland,” that familiar milieu of seedy borderlands whose degradation highlights the spiritual bankruptcy of a materialistic West. Not accidentally, “abandonment” and its cognate forms loom large in The Power and the Glory, appearing (often in combination with the related motifs of “nausea,” “hollowness,” “desertion,” and “vacancy”) nearly a dozen times in the novel and anticipating, some two decades later, the experience of Querry in A Burnt-Out Case upon awakening at 6:00 A.M. in an African leprosarium to experience “the panic of complete abandonment” (25). One might argue that this dimension is merely a staple element of the genre. Such is Jerry Palmer’s stance in positing that “bleakness” dominates what he calls the “negative thriller” (39), but his approach fails to define specifically whence that quality arises or what it signifies. Another wide-ranging study, Bruce Merry’s Anatomy of the Spy Thriller, takes no note of any such trait in “second-generation” espionage fiction, though to his credit Merry does recognize how The Confidential Agent differs from its antecedents: “The enemy is uncertain, the issues are obscure[,] and the whole enterprise expresses (once again) its fear of falling into the clichés of turn-of-the-century cloak-and-dagger heroics” (205). This comment implies, however, that the ambiance of Greene’s novel, which Roger Sharrock characterizes as “strangely phantasmagoric” (77), stems principally from its author’s desire to revamp the action-centered novel of intrigue promulgated by Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson (the latter of whom was Greene’s twice-removed cousin), yet The Confidential Agent entails more than merely a revisionist response to late Victorian adventure stories. Two patterns are crucial to the narrative’s subtlety: first, a solitary protagonist who belatedly discovers the full measure of his isolation, or abandonment, in the course of pursuing a given assignment; and, second, the same individual’s betrayal by a rampant distrust, evidenced through a hidden panopticism, that subverts his autonomy by imposing what Michel Foucault terms the “disciplinary modality of power” (216). As will be seen, both of these patterns assume a metaphysical valence in Greene’s novel, thereby affiliating it with his “major” work. Reminiscent of Greene’s other main characters, D. is defined from the outset by his separateness. “A middle-aged man with a heavy moustache and a scarred chin and worry like a habit on his forehead,” this “thirdclass” visitor to England bears a burden of “infection”3 that sets him apart 49

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from his fellow passengers aboard the Dover-bound ship (3). Only one page later Greene couples the theme of isolation with that of an indefinite surveillance: ... Danger was part of him. It wasn’t like an overcoat you sometimes left behind: it was your skin. You died with it; only corruption stripped it from you. The one person you trusted was yourself. One friend was found with a holy medal under the shirt[;] another belonged to an organization with the wrong initial letters. ... You could trust nobody but yourself, and sometimes you were uncertain whether after all you could trust yourself. They didn’t trust you, any more than they had trusted the friend with the holy medal; they were right then, and who was to say whether they were not right now? You — you were a prejudiced party; the ideology was a complex affair; heresies crept in.... He wasn’t certain that he wasn’t watched at this moment; he wasn’t certain that it wasn’t right for him to be watched. After all, there were aspects of economic materialism which, if he searched his heart, he did not accept.... And the watcher — was he watched? He was haunted for a moment by the vision of an endless distrust [4–5].

In this remarkable passage Greene compounds D.’s tenuous status not only by presenting him as a foreigner dispatched on a secret mission to England but also by making him question his agency in that role. Uncertain whether “it wasn’t right for him to be watched,” D. doubts the legitimacy of “what were called [his] credentials,” for “credence no longer meant belief ” (5). Greene thus establishes his protagonist as inhabiting a “‘No Man’s Land’” (71) in which D.’s estrangement can be traced to his persistent sense of being monitored at every turn in a country that seems wrapped in a protective cocoon of normalcy. In this regard The Confidential Agent resembles Franz Kafka’s The Castle (1926) by virtue of its surreal atmosphere combining the related elements of Unheimlichkeit and Entfremdung.4 Even before we are introduced to the novel’s self-questioning envoy, Greene captures D.’s state of mind by framing, via a “free indirect style of narration” (Bergonzi 70), how he sees the English coast. Suffused with unmistakable overtones of Heart of Darkness, a text that heavily influenced Greene as Robert Pendleton has shown, the opening paragraph suggests a Dantean passage over Acheron, the outermost river of Hell, into a spectral underworld where all hope must be abandoned. Entering this region of shades, D. figures as a revenant who has been condemned to a temporary 50

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resurrection from death in order to do uncertain penance by visiting a nation of the living dead: The gulls swept over Dover. They sailed out like flakes of the fog, and tacked back towards the hidden town, while the siren mourned with them: other ships replied, a whole wake lifted up their voices — for whose death? The ship moved at half speed through the bitter autumn evening. It reminded D. of a hearse, rolling slowly and discreetly towards the “garden of peace,” the driver careful not to shake the coffin.... Hysterical women shrieked among the shrouds [3].5

The several funereal references in this tableau bear out Alan Warren Friedman’s claim that “Greene’s is a post-mortem fiction: his novels commonly begin with or presume death and then circle back to that originating end as if ... only a repetition of doom were possible” (131). Like the anonymous denizens of The Waste Land (1922), D. is “neither / Living nor dead” (1.39– 40), the vignette as a whole conveying not simply his own suspended, almost amnestic, state but also an ominous foreshadowing of the wraithlike beings whom he will meet in the purlieus of London. Just as Conrad portrays the “monstrous town” on the horizon inland from Gravesend as a “brooding gloom,” so Greene registers a premonitory impression of an as yet distant necropolis through the eyes of his improbable foreign agent. In all respects nameless D. is an unlikely candidate for representing any faction’s interests, and Greene quickly scuttles the stereotype of accidental hero epitomized by Richard Hannay in The Thirty-Nine Steps. Whereas 37-year-old Scottish adventurer Hannay, having made his fortune in South Africa, is reenergized by the exploit of solving a nation-threatening mystery, 45-year-old D. arrives in England as the nearly destitute puppet of overseas “rebels” who, while mistrusting the former academician, have enforced his complicity with their cause (17). Greene’s protagonist gives every impression of being a psychological casualty of civil war who is struggling to understand his part in a story that seems already to have been scripted. Moreover, what exactly motivates D. in his mission remains a puzzle throughout the novel. Although we learn that he is bedeviled by memories of personal loss (“He had been six months in a military prison — his wife had been shot — that was a mistake, not an atrocity” [9]), nightmarish trauma (“[H]e was buried for fifty-six hours in a cellar,” after an air raid, “with a dead cat’s fur touching his lips” [8, 216]), and others’ suffering (“[H]e remembered his own [bombed and starving people], at this 51

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moment queueing up for bread or trying to keep warm in unheated rooms” [31, 58]), an ideologically driven partisan D. is not. In fact, the phrase “confidential agent” itself becomes almost meaningless. One infers that from the Guernica-like ravages of war D. is suffering the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder, but the more important point is that this antihero is cut off from any context that would authenticate his individual identity or ensure his mission’s success. We can pull together these strands in the novel’s exposition by taking into account a revealing admission by Greene in his 1971 introduction to The Confidential Agent for the Collected Edition. After acknowledging that political developments related to the Spanish Civil War, specifically the disastrous Munich Agreement of 1938, had “provided the urgency” for writing the novel, in conjunction with the pressing need to support his family financially (vii), Greene goes on to say the following about the process of composing his narrative: The opening scene between the two agents on the cross-channel steamer — I called them D. and L. because I did not wish to localize their conflict — was all I had in mind, and a certain vague ambition to create something legendary out of a contemporary thriller: the hunted man who becomes in turn the hunter, the peaceful man who turns at bay, the man who has learned to love justice by suffering injustice. But what the legend was to be about in modern terms I had no idea [viii].

Aside from its interest in shedding light on the novel’s inception, Greene’s statement makes explicit his desire to “create something legendary out of a contemporary thriller.” As an anonymous reviewer noted shortly after the Collected Edition’s release, this declaration “offers a key to the unity of his fiction” because the violence that pervades all of Greene’s work consistently projects a mythic “image of a spiritual condition — a world abandoned by God” (“Graham Greene: The Man Within” 11, 13). What The Confidential Agent elides, then, are the formulaic conventions of earlier spy thrillers that present facile resolutions to neatly drawn conflict. Here as elsewhere, claim Kenneth Allott and Miriam Farris, who wrote the first monograph on the novelist, Greene is intent on probing “a terror of what experience can do to the individual, a terror at a predetermined corruption” (15). More recently Marc Silverstein has proposed, “Greene’s thrillers represent a serious attempt to establish the spy novel as an appropriate vehicle 52

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for exploring the tensions, ambiguities, darkness[,] and sense of alienation which characterize ... modernity in the twentieth century” (24). Greene’s embryonic idea for the story, as he confesses, involved only the frisson of a stand-off between two adversarial agents, thereby tapping into an established scenario of the genre, but he soon subverts his contemporaneous audience’s readiness to interpret their opposition primarily in terms of ideology. True, L. has allied himself with the Francoist or Nationalist camp, whereas D. serves the Loyalist insurgency, but more significant than political allegiances are their situational commonalities. On board the steamer, for example, the “other man” is said to differ from D. by only “the longer length of his chain,” and, like the aristocratic L., Greene’s protagonist “once had some kind of title himself, years ago, before the republic ... count, marquis ... D. had forgotten exactly what.” All that separates them is the anomaly of “different initial letters” (6). Even their cultural values are not incongruent, as emerges during a guarded exchange at a hotel restaurant near Dover. After attempting a £2,000 bribe to deter D. from his mission, L. tries to ingratiate himself by conceding, “We are both guilty,” and adding: “If you win, what sort of a world will it be for people like you? They’ll never trust you — you are a bourgeois — I don’t suppose they even trust you now. And you don’t trust them” (28). In light of Greene’s preoccupation with the issue of abandonment, the detective novel differs markedly from the espionage thriller in that the latter lacks the “philosophical concept of causation” (Merry 134).6 Unlike the literature of crime detection, spy fiction immerses us in a world where guilt incriminates everyone. This sobering outlook accounts for D.’s acute sense of infection in The Confidential Agent (see note 3), for “he had been given a glimpse of the guilt which clings to all of us without our knowing it” (54). A parallel that substantiates this connection appears four years later in The Ministry of Fear. Having sought shelter in the London underground during an air raid, middle-aged Arthur Rowe has a dream conversation in which, after admitting to the euthanasia of his wife, he says to his incredulous mother: It sounds like a thriller, doesn’t it, but the thrillers are like life.... You used to laugh at the books Miss Savage read — about spies, and murders, and violence, and wild motor-car chases, but dear, that’s real life: it’s what we’ve all made

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The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction of the world since you died. I’m your little Arthur who wouldn’t hurt a beetle[,] and I’m a murderer too. The world has been remade by William Le Queux [65].

The primal curse of criminality, realizes Rowe, is our ineluctable destiny. By systematically undermining the protagonist’s impressions from his pre–World War I childhood that “justice is as measured and faultless as a clock” (89), The Ministry of Fear “demonstrates that detective novels are impossible” (Panek 124). Only the espionage thriller, as Greene conceives it, is adequate to the task of exploring the experience of abandonment, which for him clearly entailed theological ramifications. Cardinal John Henry Newman’s inference in Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864), affixed to Greene’s The Lawless Roads (1939) as an epigraph, that “the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity” spoke powerfully to a novelist whose recurrent trope for human existence is that of his fifth novel’s title —It’s a Battlefield (1934). In the spy thriller, however, the rules of engagement on that battlefield are murky. An early scene in The Confidential Agent illustrates the phobic suspicion that gives rise to that ambiguity. While en route from Dover to London, D. stops at the “Tudor Club” (36), an old house converted to an inn, where just prior to L.’s offering him a bribe D. is accosted by his rival’s thug-like chauffeur and accused of being a “‘bloody foreigner.’” “‘I could take on any number of you bloody dagos’” (21), boasts his burly assailant, but D. wisely deflects the taunt. Not long afterwards Greene’s anti-hero is intercepted by both the chauffeur and Captain Currie, the stereotypically British manager of the Tudor Club who derogates him by using exactly the same slurs. This coincidence prompts D. to wonder whether they might be in league with one another, but even more preposterous is Currie’s pretense of “fair play” (36), as though he were invoking the Queensberry rules regulating pugilism, in allowing the foreign-born chauffeur to act as his proxy (“‘I’ve got a gammy hand,’” says the Captain) by administering “‘a thrashing, man to man.’” The incident amounts to nothing more than a roadside mugging disguised under a “gentlemanly” code of meting out “punishment” for some infraction of cultural norms (35). And when a couple happens by just before the beating commences, the “thin nervous man ... at the wheel” begs off involvement while the “grey powerful woman at his side,” upon learning that the threatened per54

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son is a visitor from abroad, dismissively says, “‘Oh, a foreigner.... Drive on, dear,’” as their Morris moves off into the fog (36). Such selective violence, cloaked by Captain Currie’s jingoistic chauvinism, along with the complacency that lends it strength alert D. to the hollowness of England’s official policy of pacific neutrality in the years leading up to World War II. A striking passage in The Lawless Roads gives wider scope to this idea while leveling an incisive judgment against its author’s homeland: The world is all of a piece, of course; it is engaged everywhere in the same subterranean struggle, lying like a tiny neutral state, with whom no one ever observes his treaties, between the two eternities of pain and — God knows the opposite of pain, not we.... There is no peace anywhere where there is human life, but there are, I told myself, quiet and active sectors of the line.... So many years have passed in England since the war began between faith and anarchy: we live in an ugly indifference [29–30].

The world at large, proposes Greene pace Newman, is “implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity,” which takes the form of a recrudescent conflict, but certain “sectors of the line” are more cognizant of the “subterranean struggle” than others.7 The battlefield, in other words, is historically conditioned, and Greene indicts England for its stupor of moral disengagement at a time of pitched international crisis. Concomitant with this malaise, however, are sociological traits that The Confidential Agent depicts as symptomatic of a nation in decline following its late-nineteenthcentury era of imperialistic ascendancy. Among these is the 1930s phenomenon of Mass-Observation, or M-O as it came to be known, which upon its emergence was often charged with being a form of domestic surveillance. The brain-child of renegade anthropologist Tom Harrisson, documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings, and poet-journalist Charles Madge, M-O was a research organization launched early in 1937 that sought to promote an auto-ethnography by encouraging volunteers to file reports on their fellow citizens’ everyday behavior in Great Britain. The movement relied on “participant observers,” whom Bronislaw Malinowski termed “informants” in “A Nation-Wide Intelligence Service,” to amass raw data without the application of any selective principle (Buzard, “MassObservation” 98–99). Such a methodology produced a book devoted 55

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entirely to 12 May 1937, the date of George VI’s coronation after his brother Edward VIII’s abdication, but M-O’s fieldwork was just as prone to investigate British smoking habits, dance crazes, and the private lives of midwives. This fetishizing of information, as well as the technique for collecting it, reminds one of the Foucauldian concept of panopticism. Although Greene refers to M-O only once in The Confidential Agent, the context indicates that he views it as a sign of the times. Having been directed to a Bloomsbury address “so that his own people could keep an eye on him” (17), D. registers at a déclassé hotel where he is befriended by Else Crole, a 14-year-old chambermaid who, upon hearing footsteps outside his door while returning valuable papers he has entrusted to her, reassures D. by saying, “‘That’s only Mr. Muckerji — a Hindu gentleman.’” The sole oddity about this other guest, confides Else, is his habit of “‘watching me like I was an animal’” while asking random questions: “‘Do I believe in horoscopes? Do I believe the newspapers? What do I think of Mr. Eden? And he writes down the answers too’” (86). Later in the novel, after the protagonist’s letters of accreditation have been stolen and the innocent girl has been murdered, Greene includes another scene featuring Mr. Muckerji: “What have you been busy about, Mr. Muckerji?” “Well[,] ... when that poor child [Else] committed suicide, it seemed an occasion — of sociological importance. You know how it is, Mrs. Mendrill, we mass observers are always on duty.” ... “What do you do,” the manageress said, “with all this information?” “I type it out on my little Corona and send it to the organizers. We call it Mass Observation” [141–42].

What makes the dialogue ironic is not only that the Indian ethnographer has his facts all wrong but also that he is divulging what he knows to aptly named Mrs. Marie Mendrill, the abusive hotel manageress and lethal double agent who is sifting Mr. Muckerji to discover whether he has learned about her killing Else. Oblivious to what is actually transpiring around him, the amateur sociologist turns out as well to be something other than a scientifically disinterested observer of the public sphere. Although Mr. Muckerji is perhaps not guilty of voyeurism or scopophilia, he does testify to the police, soon after Else’s death, that while “‘peeping’” into D.’s hotel room (“‘He said he was getting evidence — I don’t know 56

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what for,’” comments a detective) he had seen the underage chambermaid “‘undressing’” (119–20). Else had been removing her stockings, the hiding place for D.’s documents, but Mr. Muckerji’s imagination leaps effortlessly to a prurient conclusion. Such a culture of suspicion is characteristic of a social order, implies Greene, whose dysfunctionality can be gauged by its treatment of the unassimilated. The urban backdrop for three-fourths of the novel heightens the impression of an intensely self-absorbed populace. Like the phantasms of Eliot’s “Unreal City” in The Waste Land (1.60), the Londoners whom D. first encounters are caught up in a fog of myopic illusion. On the morning after arriving in the capital, for example, he makes his way to the impoverished Oxford Street headquarters of the Entrenationo Language Centre where D. has been scheduled to rendezvous with “K.,” his “contact” posing as a tutor, but not before he converses with the enterprise’s director, Dr. Bellows, who stumblingly expatiates on the venture’s guiding philosophy: “‘Love of all the world. A desire to be able to exchange — ideas — with — everybody. All this hate, ... these wars we read about in the newspapers, they are all due to misunderstanding. If we all spoke the same language ...’” (46). Greene obviously is poking fun at the founding goals of Esperanto set forth by L. L. Zamenhof in 1887, which the novelist sees as having little chance of overcoming the “terrible aboriginal calamity” through dissemination of a lingua franca. That the parsimonious Dr. Bellows has unwittingly employed K., soon revealed to be another double agent collaborating with the murderous Mrs. Mendrill, merely sharpens Greene’s satire of such idealistic efforts to rectify the world’s problems. Immediately after leaving the Entrenationo Language Centre, D. happens upon further evidence that the “peaceful and preoccupied city” of London is seemingly entranced. In a bookshop window he sees displayed such volumes as “A Lady in Waiting at the Court of King Edward” and “Safari Days” (52), books that we can assume from their titles glamorize England’s colonialist past. Near Guilford Street, however, an unsuccessful assassination attempt amid “the stone-cold of big business blocks and banks” recalls D. to the battlefield dangers concealed beneath the surface of this placid metropolis (63). Greene’s reference to the bastions of corporate finance is no fluke. During a subsequent meeting with Lord Benditch at his Chatham Terrace residence with associates Mr. Brigstock, Lord 57

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Fetting, and Mr. Forbes, the consortium of industrial magnates with whom D. hopes to ratify a deal for the purchase of embargoed coal, he realizes who comprise the power brokers “in this country of complicated distinctions” (97). After his detention by police in connection with Else’s murder, however, rage prompts D. to fight back by adopting his adversaries’ tactics. At a soirée he thus corners K. while glancing out a third-story window that discloses a cityscape where illuminated scores of soccer games alternate indiscriminately with statistical summaries of human misery in Europe: Across the top of the opposite building a sky-sign spelt out slowly the rudimentary news: 2 goals to one. Far away, foreshortened on the pavement, a squad of police moved in single file towards Marlborough Street. What next? The news petered out and began again. “Another advance reported ... 5,000 refugees ... four air raids ...” It was like a series of signals from his own country — what are you doing here? [151].

The scene is worlds removed from Virginia Woolf ’s depiction in Mrs. Dalloway (1925) of what her eponymous heroine sees as she sallies forth on a resplendent mid–June day from her Westminster townhouse. For Clarissa Dalloway the shopping excursion is “a lark” in the course of which, proceeding down Bond Street, she admires “the majesty of England” as an “enduring symbol of the [S]tate” rebounding from the depredations of World War I (3, 16). In sharp contrast, what D. witnesses is only the coded semiology of a nation whose distance from the truth of things will soon vanish with the outbreak of another engulfing conflict. Both the narrative’s focus and pace change significantly after its lengthy pair of opening sections titled “The Hunted” and “The Hunter.” The final quarter of the novel is comprised of two much briefer parts, “The Last Shot” and “The End,” that shift the setting to areas outside London while escalating the text’s tempo. Having failed as an “‘unaccredited agent’” to secure a coal contract with Lord Benditch’s partnership, D. discovers that he is unable to avenge Else’s murder by executing K., when the opportunity presents itself, because “like a creative writer” he is “damned ... to sympathy” (106, 167). In “The Last Shot,” therefore, D. sets out for the Midlands collieries where he hopes to block L.’s competing bid for the resource by fomenting a strike among the miners, but his efforts at stirring the consciences of these unemployed “‘Comrades’” are thwarted by their indifference to his question, “‘Do you want to dig coal to kill chil58

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dren with?’” (203). After all, shouts a woman listening to D.’s appeal, “‘Charity begins at ’ome’” (204). In this depressed town located near a munitions factory at Woolhampton is yet another regional sector of the world’s battlefield as conceived by Greene. And it too, argues one critic, forms part of “the novel’s concentric microcosms where a class struggle [has] widened into global war” (Dick 106). Three disclosures in “The Last Shot” substantiate this connection. First, the ruinous hamlet of Benditch, which in its slag-heap squalor mirrors D. H. Lawrence’s representations of Midlands coal-producing villages, is aggressively hostile toward strangers, whom it regards with “sharp suspicion” (184), though it closes ranks in venerating one of its own who has transcended his commoner status by becoming a monopolist “Captain of Industry” and titled peer of the realm. “It was like war,” comments Greene, “but without the spirit of defiance war usually raised” (193). A second indication is the novel’s profile of Joe Bates, a local union leader who, when the Benditch Colliery Company announces a reopening of the pits, readily accepts its management’s false assurance that the coal production will be shipped only to Holland. The text’s description of Bates exposes his mendacity: “He had an uncertain night-school accent; he had risen — you could see that — and the marks of his rising he had tucked away with shame.... His weak mouth carried his shock of hair like a disguise, suggesting a violence, a radicalism which wasn’t his at all” (203). The final proof of a class-related “subterranean struggle” in this mining town involves a trio of disenthralled youths who offer to assist D. in escaping the police if he gives them his revolver with a single round in its cylinder. Not unlike Pinkie and his cohorts in Brighton Rock (1938), these delinquents constitute, ironically, the executive committee of an anarchic “Gang” networked throughout Benditch that has unspecified “scores” to settle with their parents’ generation (208). Victims of the anomie endemic to their culture at large, the adolescents are co-opted by the very social order against which they would rebel: “The oldest boy[’s] ... eyes had the blankness of a pit pony’s. There was no enthusiasm anywhere — no wildness; anarchy was just an absence of certain restraints” (208–09). Their pathetic ineffectuality becomes evident when, instead of dynamiting the mine itself, they succeed merely in blowing up an explosives shed. Foucault’s model of the modern disciplinary State helps to elucidate 59

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the nexus between surveillance and the erosion of agency in Greene’s novel. In Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, his landmark study of the various mechanisms of “hierarchical observation” and “normalizing judgement” emergent during the Enlightenment (170), Foucault singles out Jeremy Bentham’s architectural design for the Panopticon as paradigmatic of all those institutionalized forces that conspire to promote a “calculated technology of subjection” with the increasing entrenchment of capitalism (221). The utilitarian advantage of Bentham’s schema lay in its exploitation of what he called the “sentiment of an invisible omniscience” to induce self-monitoring, which in The Confidential Agent translates into D.’s often-referenced sense of contaminative infection and guilt. While instilling a conviction of criminality, panopticism also makes one take responsibility for supposed transgressions because “it automatizes and disindividualizes power” (202). When D. thus reflects at the outset of Greene’s novel, “[W]ho was to say whether they were not right now? You — you were a prejudiced party.... He wasn’t certain that he wasn’t watched at this moment; he wasn’t certain that it wasn’t right for him to be watched,” he is articulating the success of his internalized conditioning while imprisoned in Spain, but after being sent to England he finds the apparatus of suspicion no less active there, despite its not having yet assumed a political instrumentality as in the vast majority of post–World War II espionage thrillers. The novel’s dénouement subtly reinforces its pervasive theme of abandonment. After his interrogation by Scotland Yard detectives and release on bail, paid through a solicitor by Mr. Forbes, who is actually “a middle-aged Jew” named Furtstein in love with Rose Cullen, Lord Benditch’s daughter, D. is spirited away to a seaside resort called the “‘Lido’” that his benefactor is financing (231). Greene describes the ultramodern recreational facility, fashionable during the 1930s in England, as being like an airport or ocean-liner with “circle after circle of chromium8 bungalows round a central illuminated tower,” a structure that unmistakably replicates the Panopticon (233). This holiday spa, whose clientele is given over to escapist frivolity, represents another form of Xanadu-like abandonment on the eve of World War II, yet within all of its radio-equipped rooms can be heard “a talk on the Problem of Indo-China” (237). Even within these retreats resonates the intimation of a subsequent world conflict, though none of 60

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the guests pays any heed. The fate of everything symbolized by the Lido is signaled by D.’s glimpse, as a motorboat carries him offshore to a waiting freighter, of “the floodlit hotel foundering in the far distance” (246). The protagonist’s own prospects, however, are hardly more hopeful. From the very beginning of the tale, only superficially a romance, Rose has been drawn to the foreigner because of his integrity, but when in the novel’s closing scene she joins him on board the ship returning under Dutch flag to Spain it is clear that their future together is a precarious one. Earlier D. had reflected, “She couldn’t come back with him to his sort of life — the life of an untrusted man in a country at war. And what could he give her, anyway? The grave held him” (187). As though to dispel any vestige of a conventionally romantic resolution, the final paragraph of Greene’s “entertainment” reads: “The light went by astern: ahead there was only the splash, the long withdrawal, and the dark. She said, ‘You’ll be dead very soon: you needn’t tell me that, but now ...’” (247). What critical weight, then, should be assigned to The Confidential Agent? David Lodge’s canny observation more than four decades ago that Greene’s oeuvre “does not fit into the categories that orthodox literary criticism has evolved” provides a good starting point (Graham Greene 4). The author’s decision to write in a popular form reflects his disavowal of high modernism and its aesthetics, a subject that Brian Diemert has explored exhaustively (see 28–46). Greene thus begins a 1945 piece on François Mauriac by postulating a literary “disaster” that occurred after Henry James: [W]ith the death of James the religious sense was lost to the English novel, and with the religious sense went the sense of the importance of the human act. It was as if the world of fiction had lost a dimension: the characters of such distinguished writers as Mrs. Virginia Woolf and Mr. E. M. Forster wandered like cardboard symbols through a world that was paper-thin [Collected Essays 115].

The “proper duty of the novelist,” maintained Woolf in her celebrated essay “Modern Fiction” (1925), is to convey the “uncircumscribed spirit, ... with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible” (106), but for Greene such privileging of individual consciousness inclined prose fiction toward rarefied abstraction. Harking back to Conrad, Ford, and James as his mentors, he effectively followed Eliot’s injunction to “take a 61

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form of entertainment, and subject it to the process which would leave it a form of art” (Sacred Wood 70). Toward that end, as one of his most astute critics has remarked, “Greene’s great technical achievement has been the elevation ... of the thriller into a medium for serious fiction” (Sharrock 12). Like Ambler, a writer with whom he is frequently compared, Greene recognized that in a world increasingly divided along political fault-lines the ordinary person may be called upon to act in isolation without the luxury of validation by either a secular or a transcendent authority. This, basically, is what he means by “shadow of abandonment.” Hepburn has theorized that “spy narratives arise from a disequilibrium between the individual and the regime within whose ideology the spy lives and from which he dissents” (8). Recruited, that is, into the business of clandestine objectives, smuggled credentials, and feigned allegiances, the confidential agent becomes automatically an object of distrust to his ideologically doctrinaire handlers merely because they have granted him a latitude from which they themselves are excluded. The spy’s commissioned freedom to transgress established demarcations thus constitutes a study in moral integrity under circumstances where no supervening law can be invoked.9 By charting his anti-hero’s course in this interstitial “‘No Man’s Land,’” Greene is a key figure in the espionage thriller’s evolution over the last century.

Our Man in Havana: The Equivocal Comedy of Espiocracy Despite the gravity of its treatment in most fictional narratives, espionage lends itself to comedy because institutionalized spying obviously revolves around pretense, dissemblance, gamesmanship, and imposture. W. Somerset Maugham recognized something of this potential in Ashenden, though only occasionally and even then purely at the dialogical level, when he opened his fourth chapter with the following exchange just before R. assigns the protagonist a new mission: “Do you like macaroni?” said R. “What do you mean by macaroni?” answered Ashenden. “It is like asking me if I like poetry. I like Keats and Wordsworth and Verlaine and Goethe.

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2. Graham Greene’s World of Loyalty and Betrayal When you say macaroni, do you mean spaghetti, tagliatelli, rigatoni, vermicelli, fettucini, tufali, farfalli, or just macaroni?” “Macaroni,” replied R., a man of few words. “I like all simple things, boiled eggs, oysters and caviare, truite au bleu, grilled salmon, roast lamb (the saddle by preference), cold grouse, treacle tart and rice pudding. But of all simple things the only one I can eat day in and day out, not only without disgust but with the eagerness of an appetite unimpaired by excess, is macaroni.” “I am glad of that because I want you to go down to Italy” [48].

The droll whimsicality of this badinage would be skewered by close analysis, but note the sly humor involving generic things (poetry and macaroni) followed by Ashenden’s gastronomic catalogue of supposedly “simple” foods. Who is playing whom in this exchange? That question becomes more interesting when we learn that R. wants his British agent to be the paymaster for contracted assassin General Manuel Carmona, otherwise known as “The Hairless Mexican,” who despite his vaunted skills thoroughly bungles the job of eliminating a Greek courier of secret documents. Reinforcing the kind of repartee cited above is a passage, one that undoubtedly appealed to Ian Fleming, in which Ashenden responds to stuffy Sir Herbert Witherspoon’s offer of a preprandial libation by saying, “‘To drink a glass of sherry when you can get a dry Martini is like taking a stagecoach when you can travel by the Orient Express’” (208). While amounting only to incidental and wry levity, such ripostes offer a premonitory glimmer of Our Man in Havana’s ludic dimension, which unlike that of Maugham’s collection of stories is deeply imbued in the plot’s structure. To say that this text “does nothing more ... than entertain” (De Vitis 69), however, is to be hoodwinked by the author’s description of it as an “entertainment.” More insightfully, Philip Stratford characterized Greene’s 1958 novel as “a fiction about fiction-making” (323), an aperçu that Henry L. Shapiro refined by remarking that “Our Man in Havana is not about ‘fiction-making’ in the literary sense alone.... Fact and fiction, discovery and invention, are in both theory and practice ultimately indistinguishable from each other” (“Infidel” 92). Unlike Ambler’s The Intercom Conspiracy, though, the narrative develops this reflexive framework not by means of an elaborate metafictionality but rather via a comedic confrontation between two ways of imagining the world. The first is that of MI6’s historically nostalgic “Chief ” who believes 63

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that in the politically polarized era of Nikita Khruschev and John Foster Dulles allegiances can be divided neatly between East and West.10 When Henry Hawthorne, regional representative in the Caribbean, recruits British expatriate and vacuum-cleaner salesman James Wormold as “‘59200 stroke 5’” (43), the careerist is quick to impress his corporate superior with the suggestion that their new agent’s business operation is “‘old-fashioned. You know how these merchant-adventurers make do.’” Avidly seizing on the formulaic trope, the Chief immediately indulges his “literary imagination”: “I know the type, Hawthorne. Small scrubby desk. Half a dozen men in an outer office meant to hold two. Out-of-date accounting machines. Womansecretary who is completing forty years with the firm.... “It’s all part of the man’s character.... Our man in Havana belongs — you might say — to the Kipling age. Walking with kings — how does it go?— and keeping your virtue, crowds and the common touch. I expect somewhere in that ink-stained desk of his there’s an old penny note-book of black washleather in which he kept his first accounts — a quarter gross of india-rubbers, six boxes of steel nibs ...” [49].

In this impromptu fabrication, triggered by one phrase (“‘merchant-adventurers’”) dropped by Hawthorne, the Chief spins a spurious but reassuring narrative of the Secret Intelligence Service’s latest asset in postwar Britain’s battle against its ideological enemies. That he is able to reconstruct Wormold as a Kiplingesque figure merely confirms 59200/5’s indispensability in the Chief ’s mind and smoothes over disagreeable changes since the defunct era of imperialism. The fictitious director of MI6 is thus one who even after the debacle of his nation’s involvement in the 1956 Suez Crisis11 clings to late-nineteenth-century stereotypes, in this case a sentimentalized image of the colonialist entrepreneur, on the basis of which he readily scripts Wormold into existence. The second kind of imagination at work in the novel is unattached to any anachronistic vision of the past and impelled instead by practical considerations for the future. Having been abandoned more than a decade ago by his Catholic wife Mary, whom he still loves, 45-year-old Wormold is dotingly devoted to his teenage daughter Milly, properly Seraphina, and as a financially strapped single parent is struggling with the “long-term worry” of how to provide for her because his “pension would never be sufficient to take Milly to the region of safety” (3, 20). When Hawthorne 64

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then presumes on the salesman’s nonexistent patriotism to enlist him as an MI6 field agent, Wormold accepts the promised stipend of $300 per month plus bonuses. To fulfill his obligation, Phastkleaners’ small-time dealer in Havana quickly sets about meeting espiocracy’s expectations by inventing an ensemble of sub-agents. These figments of Wormold’s initially less than fertile imagination include Engineer Cifuentes and Professor Luis Sanchez, whose names he extracts from a country-club directory and whose supposed intelligence-gathering, all based on information available in newspapers, he transmits to London via encoded communiqués based on Charles Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (1807). Soon thereafter, encouraged by SIS’s largesse, 59200/5 expands his creative license by concocting such wholly imaginary informants as Raul Dominguez, an alcoholic Cubana Airline pilot, and Teresa, a nude dancer at the Shanghai Theatre. In short, James Wormold’s realization of officialdom’s credulity prompts him to become “‘an imaginative writer’” (80). Emboldened by his early success, the salesman provides MI6 with drawings of military constructions based on the schematics of his latest showroom product, the Atomic Pile Cleaner, in Oriente Province’s mountains where a small band of guerilla fighters is mounting offensives against the régime of Cuba’s current president. Such bogus documents ratify, of course, the Chief ’s preconceptions of his merchant-adventurer’s intrepidity and reliability. Only Hawthorne detects the deception but opts, like any career-minded subaltern, to keep the knowledge to himself. Commenting on this Chinese-box pattern of embedded narratives, Brian Lindsay Thomson recently has proposed that the novel’s first half “functions as a kind of allegory of writing,” whereas its second half “continues by presenting an allegory of reading” (136, 138). Although I am not sure that this interpretive bifurcation quite works, largely because Greene goes out of his way to lampoon the Chief ’s gullible crediting of Wormold’s fraudulent reports in the initial two parts of his “entertainment,” Thomson nevertheless draws our attention to a critical dynamic in the work’s comedic structure. Egregiously derivative or mimetically falsified rhetoric succeeds all too easily in an age that hankers after “‘just making it up,’” an enterprise like “‘lots of other jobs that aren’t real. Designing a new plastic soapbox, making pokerwork jokes for public-houses, writing advertising slogans, being an M.P., talking to UNESCO conferences’” (108). Wormold’s early 65

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deceptions, suggests here his London-dispatched secretary Beatrice Severn, are no more illusionary or fanciful than run-of-the-mill fabrications that appeal to a credulous public eager for consumable fictions. In the latter half of Our Man in Havana, however, Greene’s auteur undergoes a change. If the narratological world he inhabited previously was “‘modelled after the popular magazines nowadays’” and “‘Boy’s Own Paper’” (129), 59200/5 soon finds that he stands “on the frontier of violence, a strange land he had never visited before” (203), when he breathes life into such romanticized characters as Raul and Teresa. In fashioning them, Wormold is following his friend Dr. Hasselbacher’s earlier admonition that he “‘should dream more’” because “‘reality in our century is not something to be faced’” (5). What he discovers, however, is that reality in an age of absurdity (see note 10) has an uncanny way of imitating fiction, especially in the “hall of mirrors” typified by the practiced deceptions of international espionage (153). Things come to a head in Our Man in Havana when fabulation no longer confines itself to fixed boundaries. As a direct result of giving free rein to his imagination, albeit one sobered by his visit to Santiago where the police interrogate Wormold as an impostor, Greene’s comedian learns that the unspecified “‘other side’” has blackmailed innocent Dr. Hasselbacher into decrypting 59200/5’s reports to London (174), that one Raul Dominguez has been murdered upon returning to Havana from Oriente Province, that unknown parties have nearly assassinated Engineer Cifuentes, that “his Mata Hari” Teresa is also at serious risk (98), and finally that he himself has been targeted for poisoning at the annual lunch of the European Traders’ Association. When Dr. Hasselbacher is then killed by William Carter, who has been contracted to ensure James Wormold’s death as well, the formerly detached vacuum-cleaner salesman leaves behind “the safety of the shore” for “the dangerous wager of engagement” (Baldridge 154, 179). Violating his own dictum only a few years later that an author “should not penetrate into the thoughts of any character — which must be indicated only in action and dialogue” (In Search 10), Greene discloses his protagonist’s rumination while resolving to avenge his sole friend’s death: Wormold said to himself, At least if I could kill him, I would kill for a clean reason. I would kill to show that you can’t kill without being killed in your turn. I wouldn’t kill for my country. I wouldn’t kill for capitalism or Commu-

66

2. Graham Greene’s World of Loyalty and Betrayal nism or social democracy or the welfare state — whose welfare? I would kill Carter because he killed Hasselbacher.... If I love or hate, let me love or hate as an individual. I will not be 59200/5 in anyone’s global war [205–06].

If this interior monologue seems stirringly principled, however, not only echoing a statement made by the novelist ten years later12 but also anticipating Maurice Castle’s ethical stance in The Human Factor, we should not forget that Wormold first participated in the Great Game for no loftier reason than that of Arsène Marie Verrue in Ambler’s Epitaph for a Spy— namely, that he “‘needed the money’” (157). The larger point, though, is that Greene’s fictionalist has crossed a border from which there is no turning back, thereby enlisting himself unknowingly as an actor in the “battlefield” circumstances of existential farce. Once propelled into the arena of action, Wormold becomes a version of what previously he had only imagined. In this transformation he demonstrates Greene’s declared interest in human “reversibility” (Allain 153), especially as it hovers on “‘the dangerous edge of things’” (A Sort of Life 85).13 The change comes when Our Man in Havana’s otherwise maladroit salesman, sickened by Dr. Hasselbacher’s senseless murder, challenges Captain Segura, known as “The Red Vulture” for specializing in torture, to a game of draughts or checkers in which the tokens are miniature bottles of whiskey. Succumbing to the ploy of having to drink each piece upon its capture, Segura as the better player soon falls into a stupor, whereupon Wormold takes a microphotograph of his list of foreign agents in Cuba, “American as well as Russian’” (168), and steals the policeman’s pistol with which he kills Carter. Richard Kelly has argued that “Graham Greene is a romantic” because his comic novels reveal how “a novelist,” in this instance James Wormold, “can create a fiction so compelling that it consumes reality and, in turn, becomes its own reality” (53). Aside from the highly dubious extrapolation that “Greene is a romantic,” his observation is not without merit. It would have been strengthened, however, by a recognition that the protagonist has been beguiled by his own inventiveness and stumbled into a world of simulacra. Laura Tracy provides a corrective to Kelly’s view by noting that “Wormold himself functions as the latent double villainous to the larger culture within the world of the novel” (“Forbidden Fantasy” 28). Adding to this inversion or “reversibility” of roles is the revelation that Captain Segura is a double agent employed by White67

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hall. Furthermore, his infamous “‘cigarette-case made out of human skin’” turns out to be proof not of indiscriminate brutality but rather of simple revenge against another “‘police-officer who tortured [his] father to death’” (44, 233). Readers thus are forced to reexamine their moral preconceptions given the text’s undermining of hypothetically fixed categories. The two poles, then, between which Our Man in Havana shunts, inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote,14 are romantic comedy and ironic comedy. The first of these modes in its “low mimetic” form, according to Northrop Frye, revolves around a man who is “ordinary in his virtues” and projects a utopian “green world” of “childlike innocence which has always made more sense than reality” (44, 182, 184). Burdened by solicitude for his rapidly maturing daughter, the novel’s basically decent Everyman longs to protect Milly from the wolf-whistles along Lamparilla Street as she returns from convent school and the predatory advances of Captain Segura in escorting her home each day. In an age dominated by “the cruelties of police-stations and governments, the scientists who tested the new H-bomb on Christmas Island” (30), Wormold thus counsels his vulnerable daughter not to learn from experience: “‘If only we had been born clowns, nothing bad would happen to us except a few bruises and a smear of whitewash’” (31). Reinforcing the idea of an idyllic “green world” is the author’s allusion to the Forest of Arden in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It as Milly’s father and Dr. Hasselbacher celebrate her birthday at the Tropicana cabaret before Segura rudely interrupts their festivity (88). Further supporting the narrative’s element of romance is Beatrice Severn’s growing love for Wormold precisely because his flights of fanciful invention represent a rebellion against the dullness of quotidian reality. Countermanding this dimension at every turn, however, is that of ironic comedy. Frye defines this mode as involving “the demonic world” that is “never far away” and “moves toward a deliverance from something which, if absurd, is by no means invariably harmless” (178; cf. Pendleton 146). We thus have, continues Frye, “a clash of two illusions” (180). This other sphere is typified by “Hawthorne and his kind” who credulously “swallowed ... nightmares, grotesque stories out of science fiction” (78); it is also the symbolic realm of espiocrats who devoutly believe in the irreconcilability of East and West during the nascent Cold War. Despite his otherwise humorous gullibility as a reader of 59200/5’s field reports, there68

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fore, the London-based MI6 Chief can treat Whitehall’s Permanent UnderSecretary at his suburban home to Granny Brown’s Ipswich Roast and a 1927 Cockburn port before casually mentioning that “‘they’ve become very active in Cuba.... Our man in Havana has had a difficult time. His best agent [Raul Dominguez], as you know, was killed, accidentally of course’” (160). To this bit of operational intelligence he adds, “‘Perhaps it was worth a few casualties to open his [Wormold’s] eyes. Cigar?’” (161). The callousness of this appraisal reminds us that 59200/5’s fictions generate “real” consequences monitored by functionaries for whom expediency is the sole criterion of value. The final twist in Greene’s tragicomic farce comes after James Wormold’s deportation back to England. At a loss about how to punish the salesman for his liberties (“They could hardly charge him under the Official Secrets Act” because “he had invented secrets[;] he hadn’t given them away” [235]), the Chief decides, while removing a monocle from his baby-blue glass eye, to cover his own blinkered credulity by appointing Wormold as a training-staff lecturer (“‘How to run a station abroad. That kind of thing’” [236]) and recommending conferral of an O.B.E. or Order of the British Empire. The former field agent in Cuba is thus in line for an honorary knighthood, befitting the conventions of romantic comedy, and his pending marriage to Beatrice Severn completes the mode’s traditional ending of social reintegration and a new beginning. Even here, however, the novel refuses to conform to the expectations of generic closure. Earlier Beatrice had asked Wormold, “‘Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?’” (209). At first glance this question seems a clarion avowal of bedrock commitments in a time of collectivist allegiances, but we should remember that what first inspired the emergence of 59200/5 was his overriding devotion to daughter Milly that led to the deaths of real people. Thus, although Severn proclaims in the coda, “‘They haven’t left us much to believe, have they?— even disbelief. I can’t believe in anything bigger than a home, or anything vaguer than a human being’” (239–40), Greene’s narrative demands that we not take for granted the comfort of this fallback position. Other details in the novel’s conclusion prompt careful readers to reflect on what kind of comedy Our Man in Havana is. The first is an ostensibly offhanded reference in the epilogue to the hero’s limp as he enters MI6 69

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headquarters for his debriefing with the Chief: “They ignored him as one ignores a malformed man. But presumably it was not his limp” (234). The only other time that this physical disability is cited comes on the opening page when Dr. Hasselbacher, enjoying his morning daiquiri in the Wonder Bar with Mr. Wormold, remarks on a resemblance between his friend and a black man “blind in one eye” (1), not unlike the Chief, who is hobbling his way across the square while counting his steps. From the standpoint of archetypal analysis, of course, the protagonist’s impairment could be interpreted as signifying sexual crippling, maimed virility, or Oedipuslike unawareness of his true identity. All these constructions, however, seem rather inapt given that Greene mentions Wormold’s limp only twice at his text’s beginning and close, as though to emphasize that his comedian still has not escaped the limitations that have circumscribed his life ever since his wife abandoned him. The second detail is even more subtle. Our Man in Havana ends with this short paragraph, a perfect example of indirect narration: “‘There are three of us,’ Wormold said, and she [Beatrice Severn] realised the chief problem of their future — that he would never be quite mad enough” (242). The reference to madness echoes several refrains throughout the novel, such as “In a mad world it always seems simpler to obey” (24) and especially the thrice-repeated song ditty “‘They say the earth is round —/ My madness offends’” (96, 125, 209). What these textual puzzles require us to ponder is whether James Wormold has quite escaped his past existence as the crippled scapegoat figure of the pharmakos, in Frye’s terms, or whether he has emerged as the resilient eiron able to achieve a new plane of authentication (41, 40). Odds are, though, that the latter is not the case with Greene’s comedic hero who, despite his temporarily “taking to truth like a tranquilliser” (157), is now condemned to a future of instructing others, with the full blessing of SIS, in the ways of deception. “The shadow was there already,” writes Greene at the outset, “the anxieties which are beyond the reach of a tranquilliser” (2). What all this means is that the equivocality of Our Man in Havana defies clear-cut distinctions between spy novels and mainstream fiction, largely through its author’s “habit of describing people and their dilemmas obliquely” (Atkins 170). The text’s compositional history also attests to how Greene molded his germinal conception of the “entertainment” for a post–World War II era. In his introduction for the Collected Edition of 70

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his works, subsequently reprinted in Ways of Escape (246–59), he documents how this comedy was rooted in experiences during 1943–44 when as an MI6 agent he learned of German Abwehr officers in Portugal who “spent much of their time sending home completely erroneous reports based on information received from imaginary agents.” Realizing that earlier, while stationed in Sierra Leone, he “could have played a similar game,” because “nothing pleased the services at home more than the addition of a card to their intelligence files” (vii; cf. Stafford, Silent Game 142), Greene initially conceived of basing a film on the scam when invited by director Alberto Cavalcanti to draft a screenplay. Years later, however, having visited by then U.S.–backed dictator Fulgencio Batista’s pre–Castro Havana, he recognized that the city’s “louche atmosphere” was the perfect setting for his satire (viii): “The shadows of the war to come in 1938 were too dark for comedy; the reader could feel no sympathy for a man who was cheating his country in Hitler’s day.... But in fantastic Havana, among the absurdities of the Cold War (for who can accept the survival of Western capitalism as a great cause?) there was a situation allowably comic” (ix). As occurred often throughout his long career as a novelist, Greene had an uncanny ability to anticipate the next outbreak of geopolitical brinkmanship, in this instance the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The deceptions perpetrated by his forlorn vacuum-cleaner salesman in Our Man in Havana and their perpetuation by ex–59200/5’s handlers in London thus constitute a study in the inanity that leads to such global spasms.

The Human Factor: “He Who Forms a Tie Is Lost” Greene’s comment in A Sort of Life that “every novelist has something in common with a spy” might seem mere embellishment, but elsewhere Greene makes explicit that the creative writer has an obligation to be, in effect, a double agent who operates beyond the parameters of ideological affiliation or national polity. In an address titled “The Virtue of Disloyalty,” which he delivered at the University of Hamburg on 6 June 1969 upon receiving the Shakespeare Prize, Greene reaffirms views he had articulated more than two decades earlier in a letter to V. S. Pritchett during the Cold 71

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War’s start.15 Lamenting that until his final years the “greatest of all poets” too often sided with the political establishment of his day (267), Greene elaborates a deliberately provocative mandate for disloyalty: It has always been in the interests of the State to poison the psychological wells, to encourage cat-calls, to restrict human sympathy. It makes government easier when the people shout Galilean, Papist, Fascist, Communist. Isn’t it the story-teller’s task to act as the devil’s advocate, to elicit sympathy and a measure of understanding for those who lie outside the boundaries of State approval? The writer is driven by his own vocation ... to see the virtues of the Capitalist in a Communist society, of the Communist in a Capitalist state.... ... The writer should always be ready to change sides at the drop of a hat. He stands for the victims, and the victims change. Loyalty confines you to accepted opinions: loyalty forbids you to comprehend sympathetically your dissident fellows; but disloyalty encourages you to roam through any human mind: it gives the novelist an extra dimension of understanding [268–69].

The key terms here are “sympathy” and “understanding,” both of which qualities Greene sees as being overridden by the agenda-driven apparatus of monolithic government. Accordingly, the writer is called to be an insurgent whose “genuine duty” consists in being “a piece of grit in the State machinery” (269). This oppositional stance is a familiar trademark of the novelist who, after being blacklisted in the United States under the Internal Security Act of 1950 (see Sherry 3:14), went out of his way to meet with such pariahs as Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro. Greene’s portrait of Alden Pyle in The Quiet American (1955) reveals the dangers of a naïve idealism, even as his depiction of expatriate journalist Thomas Fowler’s betrayal of Pyle unmasks the hollowness of skeptical disengagement, but for Greene’s most complex treatment of the ambiguities implicit in the moral issue of loyalty versus disloyalty one must turn to The Human Factor (1978), the last and best of his espionage narratives. The novel’s protagonist, 62-year-old Maurice Castle, is an analyst in Section 6A (Eastern and Southern Africa) of the British Secret Service who believes that he can maintain an unbridgeable gulf between his family life at 129 King’s Road in Berkhamsted and his “bizarre profession” with the “firm” in London (25, 15). Seven years earlier, while a field operative in Pretoria during the era of apartheid, Castle had arranged for Sarah MaNkosi, his contact with Bantu activists, to escape apprehension by BOSS, a racist government organization, by fleeing through neighboring 72

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Swaziland to Lourenço Marques. Shortly thereafter Maurice married Sarah, then pregnant by another man, and became the adoptive father of her son Sam. Deeply devoted to both, this veteran agent of three decades imagines that he has “‘no politics’” and, warily striving to be as inconspicuous as possible, “daydream[s] of complete conformity” (20). In the novel’s first half, amid suspicions of an intelligence leak, we thus see Castle clinging to his everyday routine as Greene alternates scenes of the analyst’s office duties and the husband/father’s domestic sphere. Interspersed are chapters detailing the machinations afoot to identify the source of MI6’s security breach. Only midway through The Human Factor do we discover that, prompted by gratitude to a Communist counterpart named Carson for ensuring Sarah’s safety, Castle has been secretly relaying classified information to the KGB ever since returning to England. At the most obvious level, then, Greene’s title refers to Maurice’s overwhelming love for his wife and son as the commitment that trumps all others in the decision to betray his country. However admirable such a motive, though, and however great our sympathy with Castle as a character, the novel complicates any temptation to heroize him for the probity of his actions given the world as it exists. The tragic nature of that world is familiar to anyone who has toured the relentlessly bleak milieu of Greene’s fiction in which anything approaching justice, much less personal fulfillment, is doomed from the start, but the epigraph he used for The Human Factor establishes a particularly pessimistic keynote. Borrowed from Joseph Conrad’s Victory (1915), the quotation reads: “‘I only know that he who forms a tie is lost. The germ of corruption has entered into his soul.’” These are the words of Axel Heyst, a man who accurately describes himself only a page earlier as “‘the most detached of creatures in this earthly captivity’” while he contemplates abandoning his philosophical stance of self-imposed isolation for the sake of rescuing an endangered young woman he names Lena (214). From Greene’s choice of this epigraph one might assume that Castle’s love for his black South African wife constitutes the putative “germ of corruption,” but such an interpretation fails to recognize that the narrational strategies of Victory treat Heyst’s unqualified pronouncements with a multivalent irony. It also fails to take into account a fact of some interest regarding the textual history of Greene’s novel. 73

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In an article focused on Brighton Rock, David Leon Higdon discloses in passing that as late as the “First Corrected Typescript,” dated 13 March 1975, The Human Factor carried an epigraph from Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis. Higdon further reports that, before opting for his final title, Greene had entertained such possibilities as “The Cold Fault,” “Sense of Security,” “The Human Fault,” and “The Human Tic” (170–71, 185). Few would deny, I think, that the work’s published epigraph and title are far superior to these working versions, not least because they leave open though not inconclusive the question of Castle’s responsibility for the consequences of his decisions. On the subject of patriotism Greene once generalized that the player in the “game” of espionage “loses sight of his moral values” (Allain 173), but Maurice Castle’s problem, like Major Henry Scobie’s in The Heart of the Matter, is that he struggles with a misguided scrupulosity of conscience. This constitutes his “human fault.” Before I substantiate this claim, a brief review of some thematic parallels between The Heart of the Matter and Greene’s espionage novel released thirty years later may help to frame the ensuing discussion. One such connection is that middle-aged colonial policeman “‘Scobie the Just,’” like career agent Castle, is a husband who knows well “the odd premonitory sense of guilt he always felt as though he were responsible for something in the future he couldn’t even foresee” (9). Weighed down by this burden of expectancy, Henry has allowed pity to replace love for his chronically unhappy wife Louise because he holds himself accountable for her misery in the coastal West African port to which he had transported her during the first year of World War II.16 Maurice, admittedly, does love Sarah, as cannot be said of Scobie’s present relationship with Louise, for whom he is merely a solicitous caretaker; nonetheless, both men have been “corrupted by sentiment,” as Greene remarks of Henry in The Heart of the Matter (43), in their ultimately futile efforts to guarantee the security of their spouses. In each case this is an honorable though not unalloyed impulse, and herein lies a second link between the two novels. Scobie compromises his code of ethics by accepting a £200 loan, essentially a bribe, from a Syrian importer and diamond smuggler named Yusef in order to send his wife to South Africa for a seven-month vacation, but Scobie does so at least in part because of a sorrow that haunts his marriage — the death of an only child, Catherine, three years earlier at school in England. For 74

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this loss, of which Henry never speaks to Louise, he feels irrationally responsible, even as Maurice Castle’s devotion to Sarah is conditioned by his unwarranted sense of culpability for having failed to prevent the death of his first wife, Mary, during the Blitz. Consider, for example, the following excerpt in which Maurice responds to his mother’s observation that her son never mentions Mary and that she wishes he had begotten a child in this original union: “I try to forget the dead,” he said, but that wasn’t true. He had learnt early in his marriage that he was sterile, so there was no child, but they were happy. It was as much an only child as a wife who was blown to pieces by a buzz bomb in Oxford Street when he was safe in Lisbon, making a contact. He had failed to protect her, and he hadn’t died with her. That was why he never spoke of her even to Sarah [142–43; my emphasis].

A final parallel between these novels concerns Scobie’s and Castle’s commensurate blindness to the danger that their actions, however well intended, expose others close to them. In The Heart of the Matter the innocent victim is Ali, faithful steward to Major Scobie for fifteen years, who is brutally murdered on a quay near Yusef ’s warehouse while trying to protect his friend from blackmail. Similarly, bearing out a critic’s recent insight that espionage fiction invariably entails a “sacrificial logic” (Hepburn 18), The Human Factor discloses how Maurice Castle’s success in dissembling his role as a double agent, driven by a concern for his family’s safety, causes suspicion to fall on his less circumspect bachelor assistant in Section 6A, Arthur Davis, who is then eliminated as the supposed mole. In both cases an otherwise selfless and disinterested motive, when privileged as an absolute that supersedes all other bonds, proves to be a tragically corruptive force. Describing the protagonist’s agon, Sharrock has written that Castle is “a man of sensitivity caught in a trap of conflicting loyalties” (252), but this appraisal falls somewhat wide of the mark. For one thing Maurice’s octogenarian mother, ensconced in her “high-gabled Edwardian house,” perceptively comments that ever since childhood he has “‘always had an exaggerated sense of gratitude for the least kindness’” (139, 142). Whether her observation persuades us, as Shapiro posits while drawing a comparison to Scobie, that Castle is “a pathologically grateful person” (“Morality” 100),17 his reply that he has “‘quite given up gratitude’” is patent self-decep75

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tion (142). What Sharrock overlooks, in other words, is Maurice’s unequivocal decision seven years before The Human Factor opens to betray his country out of an exaggerated conviction of indebtedness to Carson for facilitating Sarah’s escape from South Africa. The novel’s introductory paragraph proposes that Castle “was always prepared to account for his actions, even the most innocent” (15), but Greene’s obliquity as a storyteller consistently “acts like a smokescreen” to make such categorical assertions questionable (Sedlak 36). This element of narratological occlusion or misdirection, as we have seen, is frequently a staple feature of espionage fiction. Without theorizing it as distinctive to the genre, for example, Tracy notes the dynamic at work in The Human Factor when she observes, “Greene recruits the reader as a double agent — doubling him back against himself so that finally the reader learns to distinguish an act of individual conscience from an act of individual necessity” (“Passport” 46). Rather than a drama of divided loyalties, then, Greene’s 1978 novel presents us with a cautionary tale demonstrating how a compunction fueled by guilt can lead to morally ambivalent outcomes. Maurice Castle deludes himself in two important respects, both of which have to do with the fate of privacy in the modern world of international espionage. The first is that he embraces the fiction of being exempt from the reach of ideological partisanship, not realizing or accepting that he is implicated within an institutionalized framework of entrenched oppositions. Earlier I quoted Castle’s self-representation to Colonel John Daintry, assigned to investigate Section 6’s intelligence leak, of his having “‘no politics,’” but Maurice is astonishingly blind to the fact that in his line of work there is no immunity from Whitehall’s dichotomy of “Us” versus “them.” Castle’s second delusion, which overlaps with the first, is that he believes he can cordon off his employment by the firm and his bourgeois life at 129 King’s Road in Berkhamsted. Commuting there each evening, having left behind his daily routine of decoding communiqués from Africa, Maurice passes “the ruins of a once-famous castle” to indulge in his “quadruple measure of whisky,” tolerate the unwelcome advances of his dog Buller, and read comforting bedtime stories to Sam (25, 29). The surname that Greene bestows on his protagonist transparently puns on the cliché of a man’s home being his place of refuge. Later in the novel, when Castle finally discloses to Sarah his career as a double agent, she reassures 76

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her husband, “‘We have our own country. You and I and Sam. You’ve never betrayed that country, Maurice’” (238), but both should know from their telephone’s being tapped that such an elevation of the private sphere’s inviolability over the geopolitics of Cold War espionage is impossible. Viewed from a different angle, Maurice Castle’s belief that he can compartmentalize his life, cleanly separating the personal from the political, harks back to an era when the heroes of late–Victorian adventure novels were not complicit in or defined by the causes they indirectly served. Like Scobie in The Heart of the Matter, who “dreamed of peace by day and night” while still adulating the protagonist of H. Rider Haggard’s 1885 novel King Solomon’s Mines (48; see 197), Castle regards Allan Quatermain as epitomizing a nostalgic ideal: He didn’t want to sleep until he was sure from her breathing that Sarah was asleep first. Then he allowed himself to strike, like his childhood hero Allan Quatermain, off on that long slow underground stream which bore him on towards the interior of the dark continent where he hoped that he might find a permanent home, in a city where he could be accepted as a citizen, as a citizen without any pledge of faith, not the City of God or Marx, but the city called Peace of Mind [137].

Maurice’s hypnagogic quest for a place where he might be permitted entry as “a citizen without any pledge of faith” recalls Razumov’s longing in Conrad’s Under Western Eyes, which, as Pendleton has shown, pervades The Human Factor as a subtext.18 Amid the turmoil of pre-revolutionary Russia all that Razumov desires, like Castle in his fantasy of a “city called Peace of Mind,” is the security of “an ordered life” (52). Again, paralleling his Conradian prototype, Castle wishes to “lay down for a short time the burden of secrecy” when rendezvousing with his trusted KGB contact named Boris (152), yet his devotion to Sarah and Sam will result in a paradoxical betrayal of both after he is exiled to Moscow at the end of Greene’s novel. In light of these and other affinities Pendleton plausibly contends that “Castle is a tragic figure, unable to integrate the demands of the political and interior narratives in which he is involved” (136). The irony of this failure on Maurice Castle’s part, which he overlooks because of the corruptive sentiment he mistakenly construes as a sovereign dictate of conscience, is that it aligns him with the law of expediency governing intelligence networks. One of two metaphors Greene uses to capture 77

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this regulatory principle is the trope of boxes. Early in the narrative Sir John Hargreaves, a former administrator in West Africa who has been appointed “Control” of the firm, invites Colonel Daintry to his country estate for a weekend pheasant-shoot, the real objective being an opportunity for him and henchman Dr. Emmanuel Percival to coach Daintry in how to pursue his internal investigation. After steak-and-kidney pie followed by port and cigars, the host tutors his straight-laced guest in the Realpolitik of their shared profession by saying, “‘We are playing games, Daintry, games, all of us. It’s important not to take a game too seriously or we may lose it. We have to keep flexible, but it’s important, naturally, to play the same game’” (47). Later that evening, in order to reinforce Hargreaves’ nuanced admonition, Percival remarks to Daintry that “‘we all live in boxes — you know — boxes.’” Because his interlocutor misses the point, Percival drills home a lesson in pragmatism. Noting that the Colonel has been given the “‘Ben Nicholson room,’” for the decoration of which he takes credit, Percival proceeds patiently to expound on the significance of Nicholson’s abstract paintings: Percival pointed at a yellow square. “There’s your Section 6. That’s your square from now on. You don’t need to worry about the blue and the red. All you have to do is pinpoint our man and then tell me. You’ve no responsibility for what happens in the blue or red squares. In fact not even in the yellow. You just report. No bad conscience. No guilt” [51–52].

Though Percival’s homily is largely lost on Daintry, frequent repetitions of the box metaphor make clear that it is hardly unique to the British Secret Service. Later the KGB’s Boris resorts to the same hackneyed formula when he tells Castle, “‘But you know how it is in your own outfit. It’s the same in ours. We live in boxes[,] and it’s they who choose the box’” (150). As Christoph Schöneich has noted, the homologous tropes of box and game interweave throughout The Human Factor to suggest the amorality of “Spionagetätigkeit” (286; see also Newman 255–57), a term that denotes not simply espionage as an occupation but all those activities sanctioned under its aegis. In Greene’s novel these include Dr. Percival’s cold-blooded assassination of Arthur Davis by injection with toxic bacteria, Boris’s sevenyear-long manipulation of Castle to plant misinformation, and England’s collusion with the United States in condoning the South African regime’s covert scheme code-named Operation Uncle Remus, the “Final Solution” 78

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of which calls for use of a tactical nuclear weapon against black nationalists. When his actions are compared with such practices, of course, we admire the protagonist for his sincerity of purpose, yet it remains true that his desire for a hermetically compartmentalized life replicates the mentality of the institution to which he gives his divided allegiance. This factor alone, however, does not account for the novel’s tragic turn when Maurice Castle learns of his unwitting responsibility for Davis’s murder and the chilling details of Uncle Remus. By responding as he does to these simultaneous developments, Castle crosses a figurative boundary mentioned in War and Peace, the text he is reading while traveling to a clandestine meeting with Boris: “‘One step beyond that boundary line, which resembles the line dividing the living from the dead, lies uncertainty, suffering and death’” (146). Taking this decisive step ennobles Maurice, but Greene underscores that his motives for doing so are infused by sentiment. What galvanizes his determination to “come in from the cold” is not so much principled outrage at egregious injustice but rather a continuing sense of personal obligation to Carson, who he learns was killed in reprisal for having engineered Sarah’s escape from BOSS. Reinforcing this claim is a casual remark made by Cornelius Muller, one of the organization’s leaders, that Castle’s “Communist friends” seven years ago in Pretoria, including Carson, “‘thought you were a sentimental fellow traveler — just as we did’” (133). The same kind of attachment marks Maurice’s relationship with colleague Arthur Davis, apparently his sole friend. Because the flamboyant bachelor has an affectionate regard for Sam and shares Sunday picnics on Berkhamsted Common with the family, his death along with news of Carson’s strikes at the core of Castle’s emotions. Even the repugnance Maurice feels upon revelation of the South African government’s “Final Solution” arises less from horror at the genocidal pogrom than from abiding hatred of Muller, the man who once sought to hunt down Sarah but with whom Castle is now compelled to act as official liaison for the firm. Although his former enemy “looked more human” than when he attempted blackmail of Maurice under his country’s race laws, what the protagonist seeks in filing his final exposé with Boris is simple “revenge on Cornelius Muller” (127, 182). Tragedy in The Human Factor, then, arises from Castle’s vulnerability to sentiment unsupported by credence or faith in any coherent system of belief. 79

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Despite his inability to subscribe to a transcendent creed, doctrine, or ideology, this mild apostate sees himself in the role of a messianic figure appointed to “right [the] balance” of the world’s inequities (187). Perhaps this argues, as Valerie Sedlak maintains, that Castle harbors a “savior complex” (40), but certainly his avowal that “‘I became a naturalised black when I fell in love with Sarah’” implies validation of his actions by empathy with an oppressed race (153). The problem here, however, seems self-evident. Toward the end of Greene’s The Ministry of Fear, Arthur Rowe realizes that “one can’t love humanity. One can only love people” (184), yet this insight eludes Maurice Castle. “Ironically,” posits another critic, “in his attempt to support the human factor against the cultural polemic, Castle himself has substituted abstract humanity for the human particular” (Tracy, “Passport” 50). When finally impelled to cross the Tolstoyan “boundary line,” therefore, he returns to War and Peace with almost mystical assurance, like a person thumbing his Bible, in order to find an apposite quotation for encrypting the final words of his last report to Boris: He had opened the book at random several times, seeking a sortes Virgilianae, before he chose the sentences on which his code was to be based. “You say: I am not free. But I have lifted my hand and let it fall.” It was as if, in choosing that passage, he were transmitting a signal of defiance to both the services [188].

Later these grandiloquent words come back to mock Maurice when he recognizes that “the passage he had chosen ... was no mark of freedom in the world of Uncle Remus” (223). In the meantime the rhetorical flourish ratifies the illusion of having “identified himself ” not only with black South Africans but also “truly for the first time with Carson” (221). The significance here is that in Castle’s admiring estimation Carson was a “genuine Communist” who “survived Stalin [as] Roman Catholics survived the Borgias” (136), an analogy that “confers on Carson the stature of spiritual and secular hero” (Storhoff 62). The former banker whose boyhood hero was Allan Quatermain and whose sole achievement since joining the firm more than thirty years ago consists in having “‘reduced the expenses of the [Pretoria] station considerably’” is a man defined by his generation’s search for some viable model of authenticity (68). Two other characters serve as foils to bracket Maurice Castle’s course of action. One is the asexual Dr. Percival, whose consuming passion is 80

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trout-fishing and whose predilection for chess rather than bridge proclaims him the consummate solo gamester. While meeting over lunch with Sir John Hargreaves after his assassination of Davis as the suspected traitor, Percival admits that “‘thirty years ago when I was a student I rather fancied myself as a kind of Communist’” who “‘really believed in internationalism.’” Having “‘grown up,’” however, the apolitical and irreligious doctor confesses to having embraced a different doctrine: ... “I don’t think Communism will work — in the long run — any better than Christianity has done, and I’m not the Crusader type. Capitalism or Communism? Perhaps God is a Capitalist. I want to be on the side most likely to win during my lifetime. Don’t look shocked, John. You think I’m a cynic, but I just don’t want to waste a lot of time.... In the meanwhile I enjoy the game we’re all playing. Enjoy. Only enjoy. I don’t pretend to be an enthusiast for God or Marx. Beware of people who believe. They aren’t reliable players. All the same one grows to like a good player on the other side of the board — it increases the fun.” “Even if he’s a traitor?” “Oh, traitor — that’s an old-fashioned word, John. The player is as important as the game. I wouldn’t enjoy the game with a bad player across the table” [206–07].

Disillusioned by the standoff between clashing ideologies during the 1930s and 40s, Dr. Percival engages in the game for its own sake. No longer assailed by questions of right versus wrong, he finds gratification simply in the contest of outmaneuvering an accomplished opponent. In sharp contrast is the senior Mr. Halliday, widowed proprietor of a respectable bookshop on Old Crompton Street in Soho by means of which Castle transmits reports to Boris via an outdated system of textual codes. While imprisoned in Russia as a young World War I soldier, Halliday converted to Communism and remains one of the Party’s “‘faithful’” who, despite Joseph Stalin’s purges and Leonid Brezhnev’s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, has never wavered in his convictions as to the political philosophy’s Hegelian roots. On the eve of Castle’s hurried departure for Moscow he cannot fathom this true believer’s decades-long constancy, but Mr. Halliday politely remarks, “‘If you will forgive me saying so, sir, your conscience is rather selective,’” citing the bombings of Hamburg, Dresden, and Hiroshima as examples countermanding an unquestioned faith in democracy (277). If an ideologue, Mr. Halliday is yet the one 81

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who comes to Maurice’s aid after the latter has burned his bridges in England. By way of comparison with these men, Castle cannot lend himself to either Percival’s nihilistic fascination with gamesmanship or Halliday’s unflinching fidelity to Communism. What keeps him straddling the fence of loyalty is, basically, an errant sense of gratitude that Maurice mistakes for existential commitment. Despising all that Cornelius Muller represents yet declining to espouse Boris’s adherence to Marxist precepts, Castle opts to honor the almost feudal summum bonum of allegiance to a person instead of a cause. At one point Castle thus says to his wife, “‘I don’t have any trust in Marx or Lenin any more than I have in Saint Paul,’” thereby echoing Dr. Percival. “‘But haven’t I,’” he goes on to ask somewhat plaintively, “‘the right to be grateful?’” Sarah’s response assesses the case well: “‘No one would say you were wrong to be grateful.... Gratitude’s all right if,’” and then after a brief pause, “‘it doesn’t take you too far’” (136). From her incisive comment we can extrapolate that Maurice Castle, crippled by his inability to affirm any other system of encompassing belief, has reverted to a form of vicarious hero-worship. The priorities of Greene’s protagonist were shaped during the period just before World War II when certain influential figures were extolling the primacy of personal relationships. I specifically have in mind E. M. Forster’s 1939 essay titled “What I Believe” in which the author differentiates, as did Greene himself toward the end of his life, between “belief ” and “faith” (see Sherry 3:682–706). Given the disappearance of some overarching ethos, queries Forster, what is left? His answer propounds a fallback position symptomatic of what W. H. Auden famously termed the Age of Anxiety: Personal relations are despised today. They are regarded as bourgeois luxuries, as products of a time of fair weather which is now past, and we are urged to get rid of them, and to dedicate ourselves to some movement or cause instead. I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country [68].

This also is Maurice Castle’s apologia, but it proves inadequate to address the compromising entanglements of a post–Cold War world. Forster’s credo posits loyalty to individuals as an absolute, yet his formulation 82

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of this humanistic principle — invoked by such actual double agents of the 1960s as Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, George Blake, and Anthony Blunt, all of whom Greene’s novel references — is couched in a questionable antithesis. As Goronwy Rees wrote in 1972, suspicious of Burgess’s appeal to Forster’s distinction by way of justifying his duplicity, “One’s country was not some abstract conception which it might be relatively easy to sacrifice for the sake of an individual; it was itself made up of a dense network of individual and social relationships in which loyalty to a particular person formed only a single strand” (208).19 Such logic, however, is lost on Castle, whose conscience as Mr. Halliday suggests is indeed selective. To understand why requires consideration of Greene’s declared goals in The Human Factor as well as recognition of how Maurice’s values are influenced in large measure by the nature of his employment. While drafting Ways of Escape, his autobiographical continuation of A Sort of Life, Greene organized the book around a series of introductions to a Collected Edition of his work. Because the last of these pieces was written shortly after publication of The Human Factor, it offers an especially candid account of his objectives in the novel. Before adducing his own unexciting experience as an intelligence operative in Sierra Leone and later in London, Greene forthrightly outlines what he set out to accomplish: My ambition after the war was to write a novel of espionage free from the conventional violence, which has not, in spite of James Bond, been a feature of the British Secret Service. I wanted to present the Service unromantically as a way of life, men going daily to their office to earn their pensions, the background much like that of any other profession — whether the bank clerk or the business director — an undangerous routine, and within each character the more important private life [306].

Our Man in Havana, satirizing the British Secret Service’s “occupational disease” of credulous “falsity” (217), debunks a nascent mystique about the whole enterprise of espionage, but the widespread popularity of Ian Fleming’s potboilers during the 1960s prompted Greene to shift away from the mode of burlesque and attempt a spy story in a more serious vein. His goal was to highlight the stultifying ordinariness, even banality, of the credentialed agent as mid-level bureaucrat. It thus is no accident 83

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that when Sir John Hargreaves, formerly a postcolonial functionary in West Africa, compares Maurice Castle to “‘a District Commissioner left pretty well to yourself in your own territory’” of Section 6A, or that when Castle confesses to underling Arthur Davis that his greatest ambition is “‘to be retired. With a good pension. Enough for me and my wife’” (67, 63), we immediately grasp how steeped Greene’s protagonist is in the corporate culture of his particular vocation. Like the bank employee he once was prior to recruitment by MI6, Maurice aspires only to a sinecure, in contrast to younger subordinate Davis whose ardent goal is to emulate James Bond and be reassigned to an exotic locale. Throughout the last third of his novel Greene introduces a new metaphor related to Maurice’s decision to abandon the schizoid life of a double agent. The trope surfaces for the first time in this passage: “Perhaps after his final report [to Boris] all lines of communication had been cut for ever,” as a consequence of which “he felt invisible, set down in a strange world where there were no other human beings to recognise him as one of themselves” (231–32). The idea of “lines” signifies several things — the hypothetical separation between Castle’s vocation and his suburban home, the boxes in Nicholson’s abstract paintings, Maurice’s financial connection to the firm, geographical boundaries between nations, and Castle’s telephonic link with Sarah once he has emigrated to Moscow. The price he pays for the transgression of such lines, whether by himself or others, is invisibility and the loss of agency. The former is graphically illustrated by Maurice’s disguise while at the Starflight Hotel en route to Russia where he has been promised sanctuary as a defector. Tricked out by his Soviet handlers as a blind man with a walking stick, intimating the protagonist’s similarity to Oedipus groping his way from Thebes, Castle goes unrecognized even by a recent contact at the American Embassy. The Caribbean-styled Starflight Hotel, a place where one’s appearance can be made “‘infinitely adaptable’” (285), recalls the ultramodern Lido in The Confidential Agent, another intermediate zone of anonymity, where D. awaits his dead-of-night escape back to Spain. Once transported to Russia, having left Sarah and Sam temporarily with his mother in East Sussex on the pretense of marital separation, Maurice is billeted in a drab two-room apartment where he passes the time by reading Robinson Crusoe until his family supposedly can join him. Wholly dependent on a subsistence dole, 84

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Castle wants only to communicate again with Sarah, but when that opportunity comes weeks later their brief telephone conversation is subject to electronic surveillance: “‘They’ll always be listening,’” Maurice wearily tells his wife (334). The novel’s concluding paragraph leaves no doubt that any prospect of their reunion, certainly in the foreseeable future, is improbable. Although Sarah urges her husband to “‘please go on hoping,’” the narrator ends by reporting that “in the long unbroken silence which followed she realised that the line to Moscow was dead” (335). A crowning irony in The Human Factor, one that coalesces the novel’s pervasive skepticism, comes just before this truncated call. Freshly arrived in the Soviet capital from his undercover role abroad, Boris brings Castle two bottles of Scotch and explains why it was imperative for the KGB to extricate him from England so abruptly. The “‘nice piece of deception’” he goes on to divulge belatedly makes evident that Maurice all along has been manipulated as a pawn-like dupe in the game of international espionage: Your people imagined they had an agent in place, here in Moscow. But it was we who had planted him on them. What you gave us he passed back to them. Your reports authenticated him in the eyes of your service[;] they could check them, and all the time he was passing them other information which we wanted them to believe. That was the real value of your reports. A nice piece of deception. But then came the Muller affair and Uncle Remus. We decided the best way to counter Uncle Remus was publicity — we couldn’t do that and leave you in London [327].

Boris’s revelation of this ploy dissolves Maurice Castle’s illusions of autonomy for the past seven years while also identifying the factitious source about a leak in Section 6 with which the novel opens. Greene’s twist on the motif of his protagonist’s having acted out of gratitude to Carson takes another turn when he has Maurice say to Sarah of his Russian caretakers, “‘They are grateful to me. For a lot more than I ever intended to do’” (334). What Castle has discovered too late is that he is enmeshed, like his anti-heroic prototype in The Confidential Agent, in a world of manifold duplicity wherein “there was no end to the complicated work of halftrust and half-deceit.” As Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan observes, the figure of D. is “an early sketch of Castle in The Human Factor” (Childless Fathers 15), but it also is true that the later tale is tinged by a darker hue of skep85

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ticism in pointing to its protagonist’s scrupulosity of conscience as contributing to his downfall. This dimension adds significantly to the “autumnal quality” that Andrew Wright detects in the 1978 novel. In relation to Greene’s oeuvre, he continues, The Human Factor “centres more explicitly than any of his other work on the sense of man-made apocalypse, a sense that has been intrinsic ... from the beginning” (103). Wright is referring specifically to Uncle Remus and the specter of nuclear annihilation, yet closely yoked to that theme is a probing analysis of how individual action, even when guided by decent intentions but corrupted by sentiment, cannot hope to contravene such nightmare scenarios. Evidence also exists that Greene found his twenty-second novel particularly difficult to write because he shared his lead character’s Forsterian inclination toward loyalty to a person rather than a cause. According to Pritchett, Greene composed 25,000 words of the manuscript in 1966–67 before shifting his attention to The Honorary Consul when Kim Philby’s defense of his defection titled My Silent War was released one year later (121; cf. Dennys 274). Greene’s testimony in Ways of Escape confirms this account: “I began The Human Factor more than ten years before it was published and abandoned it in despair after two or three years’ work.... I abandoned it mainly because of the Philby affair.... I disliked the idea of the novel[’s] being taken as a roman à clef ” (308). Although the undertaking caused him considerable conflict at the time, largely because of his attachment to Philby who had been his MI6 mentor, Greene pushed ahead with the project after the politically charged notoriety and polemics surrounding the case had subsided. One animus for his completing the narrative was that it dealt with a subject Greene knew intimately from his formative years — namely, an “inextricable confusion of loyalties” (A Sort of Life 57). Because The Human Factor explores with such unflinching honesty Maurice Castle’s moral quagmire, some have posited that it is less a spy novel than a mainstream text about a man who happens to be a double agent. To make a distinction of this kind, however, is to agree with Barzun’s dismissive assumption that espionage fiction is inherently “light” and “trashy” fare. By virtue of his disloyalty to such earlier writers as Erskine Childers and John Buchan, Greene has made the spy novel “no longer a passport to an enthralling land of fantasy, but a vehicle for representing 86

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the shape of the world as we experience it” in postmodernity (Silverstein 27). Finally, by choosing “‘a different loyalty’” than narrow adherence to country or cause (307), Greene’s protagonist in The Human Factor fails, but at least he does so for reasons that we can understand if not ones whose consequences we can entirely escape.

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Len Deighton’s Cold War Triptych If Graham Greene figures as a “quasi-canonical curiosity” within academe (Thomson 12), Len Deighton’s stature among literary scholars is exponentially more tenuous. An electronic search of the MLA International Bibliography reveals 893 entries on Greene for the years of 1949 to 2008 versus nine on Deighton for the period of 1976 to 2008. Breaking down the first total by counting only publications in which he is the predominant or exclusive focus, one discovers that Greene has been the subject of 52 monographs, 96 book chapters, 46 doctoral dissertations, and 382 journal articles. In stunning contrast, Deighton’s work is discussed in only two chapters and five articles. Several ways of explaining this disparity suggest themselves, most obviously the possibility that the younger writer (Greene was born in 1904, Deighton in 1929) has been adjudged the lesser artist.1 It also can be hypothesized that the notoriety of Greene’s maverick Catholicism accounts for at least some of the widespread interest in his fiction, plays, autobiographies, journals, and screenplays, whereas a comparable biographical element is missing to intrigue researchers about his counterpart’s productions. This last point is related to a third conceivable explanation. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1955, Deighton held a number of jobs, some concurrently, as a graphic designer, air steward, commercial illustrator, advertising director, syndicated journalist, travel editor, script writer, news photographer, and author of books on the culinary arts and military history. Given this multifaceted background, Deighton’s self-effacing deprecation of his abilities as a novelist (see Macdonald 38), despite strong evidence of narratological craftsmanship and assiduous revision, has probably led many to ignore him as an unserious pretender, even though he has been just as prolific as Greene. The central 88

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reason for scholarly neglect of Deighton, however, may be that his signature form is the “hard-boiled” espionage tale and that he happened to come along when John le Carré was gathering accolades for his qualitatively different but virtuoso contributions to the genre as Greene’s widely heralded heir apparent. Unlike both Greene and le Carré, Deighton was not a former member of the Secret Intelligence Service when he commenced his novelistic career. Although he had served for two years in the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Air Force, the author of The Ipcress File (1962), Funeral in Berlin (1964), and Spy Story (1974) arrived at his distinctly skeptical portrayal of the Great Game through painstaking research. In this process he was strongly influenced by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, renowned stylists of the American noir private-eye thriller. What Deighton absorbed from these transatlantic writers was, first, a keen sense of their main characters’ alienation from the established social order and, second, an appreciation for the acerbically understated and tourniquet-like tautness of their fictional prose. Such features comported well with his take on British culture during the 1960s after the national embarrassment of Kim Philby and England’s eclipse as a world power.2 In the three novels mentioned above Deighton presents us with a triptych of Cold War espionage in which their unnamed anti-hero becomes a default hero amid a rapidly changing culture. The protagonist’s individuality represents not only a rejection of the preceding decade’s impulse toward conformism but also a vehicle for exploring a new generation’s questioning of international brinkmanship. Deighton’s narrational structures as well as dialogical exchanges are distinctly unlike those that characterize the productions of Ambler and Greene. In a perceptive analysis of Deighton’s fiction, LeRoy L. Panek observes that he typically “attempts to give readers a taste of the real world of espionage,” incorporating elements of a superficial verisimilitude, while simultaneously “turn[ing] at critical points to traditions of the spy story in order to evaluate or reevaluate the conventions themselves” (221). And crucial to this two-pronged endeavor, argues Lars Ole Sauerberg, is Deighton’s deployment of strategies involving concealment and protraction (83), which entail the author’s deliberate suppression of information whereby, for readers and protagonists alike, the suspenseful drama of anag89

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norisis is deferred. As a consequence, we are thrust into the position of having to grope our way through some often bizarre, occasionally incomprehensible, plot developments that frustrate expectations of linearity and logical inference, all the while being led to suspect by a proliferation of cues that the stories are moving toward some kind of resolution. Deighton, in other words, specializes in ensnaring his readers in mystery, thereby challenging our faith in deduction as a guide to textual reconstruction. In The Ipcress File, his inaugural novel, this narratological ploy is encapsulated as the tortuous process of discovering “‘arabesques of the final pattern’” (93), a metaphor that condenses the salient difference between Deighton’s Cold War espionage-based tales and those of his British precursors.

The Ipcress File: Anonymity and Occultation Any commentary on this work must begin by acknowledging the significance of its author’s decision to make his first-person protagonist anonymous. Dubbed merely “Harry” in one passage (“Now my name isn’t Harry, but in this business it’s hard to remember whether it ever had been” [43]),3 Deighton’s hero is less a character in his own right than a destabilizing discursive function within the world of institutionalized suspicion and forged identity. This is not to say that we lack certain details about The Ipcress File’s narrator. Readers are indirectly told, for example, that with “deep[-] sunk eyes ... under horn-rimmed glasses, chin jutting and cleft,” he is the son of a trade-unionist railway worker from Burnley in Lancashire; that, having graduated from a “red-brick” university in England with degrees in mathematics and economics, he is laconically critical of “Oxbridge” types; that in appearance he is unremarkable (“‘5 ft. 11 in.’” and “‘muscular inclined to overweight. No visible scar tissue’”); that toward the end of World War II he served for six months in a clandestine CIA mission; and that, besides being a gourmet and scholar of military history, he regularly reads such periodicals as New Statesman, Daily Worker, and History Today (42). When the novel opens, having been mustered out of Army Military Intelligence and seconded to a provisionally funded civilian unit named W.O.O.C.(P), Deighton’s protagonist finds himself immersed in a sphere 90

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whose operational agendas he struggles to unravel while “working in the dark” (71). Reinforcing the novel’s general opacity and concealment of plot direction is its division into two seemingly unrelated parts. The text’s prologue frames the whole as an orally delivered “‘personal version’” of a “summary of Dossier M/1993/GH 222223 for Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Defence” (2, 1), but the narrative’s ensuing exposition proves to be highly elliptical. Deighton’s fictional scaffolding also cuts against the grain of his two epigraphs, the first of which is taken from William Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, Part 1: “And now I will unclasp a secret book, / And to your quick-conceiving discontents / I’ll read you matter deep and dangerous” (I.iii.188–90). The second quotation from eighteenth-century ornithologist Gilbert White’s The Natural History of Selborne intimates that by the end of Deighton’s novel we will be able to decide upon its genre: “Though it must be said that every species of birds has a manner peculiar to itself, yet there is somewhat in most genera at least that at first sight discriminates them, and enables a judicious observer to pronounce upon them with some certainty.” Juxtaposed in terms of these paired epigraphs is the idea of narratological decoding or hermeneutical disclosure, with its implied pledge of “truth,” and a more tentative commitment to relative “certainty.” The Ipcress File shuttles between these polarities, all the while compelling us to search for a connection between its disjointed halves. The thriller begins straightforwardly enough, belying its subsequent complications. Transferred from Colonel Ross’s supervision to W.O.O.C.(P), which is headed by an officious mandarin named Major Dalby, Harry is assigned the job of contacting a freelance agent known only as “Jay,” who specializes in abducting Britain’s top biochemists, and offering him £18,000 for the return of a scientist designated “Raven.” Initially more engaging than this plot lead, though, are the narrator’s impertinent interactions with Dalby and his disdain for bureaucratic procedure. “Almost as powerful as anyone gets in this business” (7), the Major is profiled as “an elegant[,] languid[,] public[-]school Englishman” who habitually condescends toward his new staff member (11): “You are loving it here of course,” Dalby asked. “I have a clean mind and pure heart. I get eight hours’ sleep every night. I

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The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction am a loyal, diligent employee and will attempt every day to be worthy of the trust my paternal employer puts in me.” “I’ll make the jokes,” said Dalby.... Dalby tightened a shoe-lace. “Think you can handle a tricky little special assignment?” “If it doesn’t demand a classical education[,] I might be able to grope around it.” Dalby said, “Surprise me[. D]o it without complaint or sarcasm.” “It wouldn’t be the same,” I said [12–13].

The protagonist’s wry quips, roguish insouciance, and detached irony comprise the arsenal with which he counters blasé assumptions about cultural status. According to Sauerberg, this depiction links Deighton’s unlikely hero with Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim (1954) and John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1956) in representing “the post-war meritocracy which found it extremely difficult to obtain society’s recognition” and whose sole “‘fault’ was that they were not born with any kind of privilege” (108). In this regard Harry is the anomalous outsider who refuses to be pigeonholed by conventional class stereotypes.4 Although alienated at this level, he also acknowledges in Horse Under Water (1963), Deighton’s second novel, that aloneness or alienation is a universal human condition: “Look,” I said, “everyone is alone, born alone, live[s] alone, get[s] sick alone, die[s] alone[—]everything alone. Making love is a way for people to pretend they aren’t alone. But they are. And everyone in this business is even more so, alone and aching with a lot of untellable truths in his brain-box.... You are alone[,] and so am I. Just try getting used to it...” [160].

Given his marginal standing within the “old-boy” bureaucracy and his metaphysical conviction about inescapable isolation, The Ipcress File’s narrator asserts his independence by refusing to be treated as a serf.5 He also routinely flouts departmental protocol, preferring to avoid mounting stacks of paperwork by calculating his overdue back pay, stringing together paper-clip chains, and baiting the office’s formidable gatekeeper named Alice Bloom. This preliminary sketch of Harry lays the groundwork for his suddenly being precipitated into W.O.O.C.(P)’s bid for increased governmental funding in the game of Cold War espionage. Within this larger framework Deighton’s atypical hero discovers that he is an expendable pawn subject to manipulation by entrenched ideological forces: “What chance did I stand between the Communists on the one 92

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side and the Establishment on the other — they were both out-thinking me at every move” (116). Roughly the novel’s first half thus has him scrambling to figure out exactly what his assigned mission is. After a failed negotiation with Jay, which results in his narrowly escaping arrest at a London striptease club, Harry finds himself in Lebanon where, having eluded U.S. Naval Intelligence en route, he assists Major Dalby in a commando attack to prevent the cross-border marketing of Raven. Shortly thereafter Dalby unaccountably delegates managerial responsibility to the protagonist, directing him to pursue further the case of Jay who allegedly was complicit in the “‘Burgess and Maclean business’” and represents a grave threat to England’s national security (87; see also 308). The novel’s trajectory from this point onward veers often, bearing out Deighton’s interpolation that “it’s only writers who expect every lead the hero meddles in to turn out to be threads of the same case” (119). Halfway through The Ipcress File, therefore, we along with Harry have learned that the mysterious Jay specializes in something called “‘synthesized environment’” at a research facility in Switzerland; that two data analysts, Captain Carswell and Sergeant Murray, are assigned the job of ferreting out commonalities among England’s top-security personnel; that W.O.O.C.(P)’s interim director, in light of recent events, is consulting a tome titled Experimental Induction of Psychoneuroses in Personality and Behaviour Disorders; that “Housemartin,” a henchman of Jay, is murdered while in custody at Shoreditch Police Station; and that a recently deserted house provides evidence of having been used for purposes of brainwashing. While being presented with this jumble of information, readers are aligned with the protagonist who throughout the narrative’s first half wrestles with the solution to a crossword puzzle (see 40, 68, 146), which becomes a synecdoche for the text’s many enigmas. Such murkiness deepens when midway through The Ipcress File the setting shifts abruptly to Tokwe Atoll in the Pacific, site of Cold War military maneuvers. Having been sent there by Major Dalby to observe the U.S. Department of Defense’s test-firing of a neutron bomb, Harry soon finds himself suspected of being a double agent who is colluding with the Russians’ monitoring submarine stationed just offshore. Though forewarned of the set-up by an American friend and intelligence operative, Lieutenant Barney Barnes, while perched atop the detonation tower, 93

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described as the “focus point of hemispherical animosity” (184–85), Deighton’s narrator is imprisoned and subjected to interrogation before being remanded to another facility. At this second place of interment, after more than a month of continuous sensory deprivation and mind control, the disoriented protagonist is led to believe that he is about to be indicted under Hungarian law. Throughout the whole ordeal, he realizes upon escaping, Harry has been in the London suburb of Wood Green. Both concealment and protraction operate to mystify the import of these events, but balanced against their impenetrability is the “spy’s insurance policy” (218), which entails guarded personal relationships with professional contacts irrespective of their nationality or ideology (Lense 72). By way of anticipating this idea, Deighton reveals early in his novel that the monolith of officialdom is fully adept at rewriting history. One of W.O.O.C.(P)’s classified departments run by a Mr. Nevinson, for example, specializes in erasing agents’ biographical backgrounds and inventing fictive vitae. Commenting on this procedure, Harry records the following: [T]ake the time my picture appeared in The Burnley Daily Gazette in July 1939, when I won the fifth[-]form mathematics prize; the following year the whole of the sixth appeared in a class photograph. If you try to see those issues now at the library, at the offices of The Burnley Daily Gazette, or at Colindale even, you’ll discover the thoroughness of Mr. Nevinson. When your papers are changed[,] your whole life is turned over like top-soil; new passport[,] of course, but also new birth-certificate, radio and TV licenses, marriage-certificates; and all the old ones are thoroughly destroyed. It takes four days [33].

Against such vested power for falsifying his identity, the isolated agent has only one recourse for minimizing the risk of betrayal: “A spy has no friends[,]” people say; but it’s more complex than that. A spy has to have friends, in fact many sets of friends. Friends he’s made by doing things and by not doing other things. Every agent has his own “old[-]boy network[,]” and like every other “old[-]boy network” it cuts across frontiers, jobs[,] and every other loyalty — it’s a sort of spy’s insurance policy. One has no specific arrangement with anyone, no code other than a mutual sensitivity to euphemisms [218].

Deighton’s protagonist here articulates a reliance on circumspect relationships as superseding doctrinaire allegiances.6 In The Ipcress File these personal ties encompass Jean Tonnesen, his assistant and fellow spy; Barney 94

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Barnes, who dies after warning Harry of plots against him; Grenade, an intelligence officer in France’s Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire; and Charlie Cavendish, an undercover man for the U.K.’s Combined Services Information Clearing House who is murdered after being confused with the fugitive from Wood Green. Funeral in Berlin widens this circle to include Colonel Alexeyevitch Stok, a KGB counter-intelligence realist who has moved well beyond his youthful commitment to Bolshevism. Connecting all these personae, whatever their affiliations, is an independence of thought that manifests itself by a mistrust of sanctioned euphemisms. Their shared ethic consequently “cuts across frontiers” and “every other loyalty.” By virtue of this trait, suggests Deighton, such individuals constitute a self-selecting network that is not deceived by the posturings of career diplomats or the lies of unscrupulous governments for which Major Dalby’s “‘Jesuit’” motto, “‘When the end is lawful[,] the means are also lawful,’” is axiomatic (17). It thus is appropriate that the self-aggrandizing Dalby proves to be the duplicitous agent who has engineered most of the narrative’s blind alleys. Before this exposé in The Ipcress File’s final chapters, however, we share the protagonist’s epiphany at the Major’s upscale residence that his W.O.O.C.(P) superior has been collaborating with Jay: “[N]ow ... the prince of evil is chatting with the head of the department. How can I tell you the impact this made on me? It was like seeing Mr. [Harold] Macmillan drop a [Communist Party] card out of his wallet; it was like discovering that Edgar Hoover was Lucky Luciano in disguise” (283). All the pieces of the puzzle finally come together for Harry, but in the novel’s dénouement Deighton incorporates two other exchanges that shed light on where he stands regarding the moral compromises of Cold War geopolitics. The first involves a confrontation between the narrator and Jay at the latter’s elegant Victorian mansion near Brompton Oratory. Although earlier chapters of The Ipcress File contain several references to the tawdriness of post–World War II consumerism in England, the vacuity of the nation’s tabloid-obsessed culture, and the emergent hegemony of the United States,7 its author permits the vaguely Nietzschean Jay a speech, the second part of which is indirect, that reminds one of Ambler’s “writerly” peroration in The Dark Frontier: 95

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction ... “You can’t really believe that the Communist countries are going to collapse, and that this strange capitalist system will march proudly on.... [W]hat has capitalism to offer? Its colonies that once were the goose that laid the golden egg, they are vanishing. The goose has found out where to sell the egg. The few places where a reactionary government has suppressed the socialist movement, why, in those places those governments are merely propped up by Fascist force, paid for in Western gold.” Behind Jay’s voice I could hear the radio playing very quietly. An English jazz singer was even now Gee Whizzing, Waa Waa and Boop boop booping in an unparalleled plethora of idiocy. He noticed that I was listening.... What of the capitalist countries themselves? What of them then, racked with strikes, with mental illness, with insular disregard for their fellow men[?] On the brink of anarchy, their police beset by bribes, and by roving bands of overfed cowards seeking an outlet for the sadism that is endemic to capitalism, which is in any case licensed selfishness. Who do they pay their big rewards to? Musicians, aviators, poets, mathematicians? No! Degenerate young men who gain fame by not understanding music or having talent for singing [297–98].

In response to this rhetorical gambit for debating ideology, delivered while Jay is preparing a three-pound lobster in champagne and butter, Harry says simply: “‘Cut out all this.... Who killed Charlie Cavendish?’” Jay’s reply is equally terse: “‘We all did.... You, me[,] and them’” (298). What this colloquy reveals, while indicting Western capitalism for its hollow materialism, is that Deighton’s protagonist is enmeshed in the systemic betrayals of Cold War subterfuge, whether or not he chooses to admit as much. This, then, is his individual compromise. The second exchange bridges a pair of brief revelations. While being honored by an “Exalted Military Personage” at the War Office as “‘hero of the hour’” (315), Harry has the courage to demand and receive the confidential file of a highly placed benefactor of Jay code-named “Henry.” In this defiance of the Establishment he seems to have struck a blow for governmental transparency and accountability, but that same evening the narrator learns that Jay, pursuant to being apprehended, has been “paid £160,000 to open a department working directly between Ross and [himself ]. On this same day a Jensen 541S sports car went off the Maidstone by-pass while going at an absurd speed. There was one occupant, a Mr. Dalby; death, they said, was instantaneous” (319). Notwithstanding his checkered past, the urbane and entrepreneurial criminal is absorbed into England’s system of national security, his recruitment representing an insti96

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tutional form of Cold War compromise, though Harry admits at the very end that he will not be adding Jay to his “spy’s insurance policy” because “it’s not wise to make too many close friends in this business” (324). What Deighton’s inaugural thriller presents, then, is a “dialectic of explicability [versus] inexplicability” that highlights the “labyrinthine moral ambiguity” of espionage as a Cold War profession (Cawelti, Mystery 341). Defiantly resisting both the class prejudices of England’s espiocracy and the ideological formulas of that era, the nameless protagonist is a coolly self-controlled pragmatist who in the name of personal integrity adheres to his own code of getting a job done without concerning himself overmuch about matters of strategic justification. At times it seems that his sole motivation is to avoid what the acronym IPCRESS denotes, namely the “‘Induction of Psychoneuroses by Conditioned Reflex with Stress’” (198), but if so Deighton suggests that, given the bilateral mendacity of Cold War’s politics, this constitutes an acceptable if not exactly a noble ethic. Definable heroes and villains being a thing of the past, what remains is the challenge of knowing who one is to himself. Borrowing from the American noir tradition of detection, this contributor to the secret-agent genre therefore allows Harry to solve the puzzle in his novel’s concluding chapters, because that by itself is a survivalist’s necessary feat in the tangled world of covert operations.

Funeral in Berlin: The Art of Perfidy The last of four epigraphs prefixed to Funeral in Berlin cites Richard Lewinsohn’s The Man Behind the Scenes: The Career of Sir Basil Zaharoff (1929): “Most of the people who engaged in this unsavoury work had very little interest in the cause which they were paid to promote.... [O]ne or the other would occasionally go over to the opposite side, for espionage is an international and artistic profession, in which opinions matter less than the art of perfidy.” Lewinsohn was writing about the international financier and arms trader, the “mystery man of Europe,” on whom Ambler patterned his eponymous character in A Coffin for Dimitrios, but Deighton’s first epigraph makes clear that the same kind of calculating self-interest functioned at higher levels some thirty years later: 97

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction ALLEN W. DULLES (then director CIA): “You, Mr. Chairman, may have seen some of my intelligence reports from time to time.” MR . KHRUSHCHEV: “I believe we get the same reports — and probably from the same people.” MR . DULLES: “Maybe we should pool our efforts.” MR . KHRUSHCHEV: “Yes. We should buy our intelligence data together and save money. We’d have to pay the people only once.”

Whether apocryphal or not, the blurb indicates Deighton’s view that the art of perfidy was not limited to munitions brokers or double agents in the interim between two world wars. His third novel, like The Spy Who Came In from the Cold a year earlier and Adam Hall’s The Quiller Memorandum (1965) a year later, thus takes the divided city of Berlin as its backdrop after the Wall’s erection in 1961. This polarized former capital of the German Empire becomes a microcosm of the East-West standoff (Kamm 62), its concrete barrier figuring, in le Carré’s previously cited description, as “a perfect symbol of the monstrosity of ideology gone mad.” The Cold War epicenter of Berlin, however, also serves Deighton’s fictional interests as the arena in which two other issues are developed: first, the betrayal of one’s core identity to which long-practiced perfidy can lead; and, second, the protagonist’s avoidance of that pitfall by his adherence to a hermeneutics of suspicion. Both of these issues are framed by Funeral in Berlin in terms of the juxtaposition immediately established between Harry and Johnnie Vulkan. In contrast to the thriller’s default hero, Vulkan is a hardened con man for hire who regards partitioned Berlin as the greatest place in the world because there, amid all the other opportunistic hangers-on, he can impersonate himself without fear of detection. Once Paul Louis Broum, a French-German Jew imprisoned at Treblinka, Poland, in 1943 after collaborating with the Nazis despite committing a political assassination for the Communist Party, Johnnie Vulkan has “reduced his selfhood to the sum of his cover stories” (Lense 74). Deighton thus profiles him as typifying “the new breed of European man: he spoke like an American, ate like a German, dressed like an Italian[,] and paid tax like a Frenchman” (44). In short, this survivor of the concentration camps has learned how to ape all the post-war markers of social prestige, including his leatherupholstered Cadillac Eldorado, hand-crafted Oxford shoes, and Savile 98

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Row suits. Underneath all these facades, though, the fictive construction who calls himself Johnnie Vulkan is nothing more than a simulacrum who has bartered his deracinated identity for the spurious trappings of Westernization. He therefore constitutes a dramatic foil to Harry, who recognizes both code-named “King” Vulkan and cordoned-off Berlin for what they have become, symptomatically, during the Cold War: Brassieres and beer; whiskies and worsteds; great words carved out of coloured electricity and plastered along the walls of the [Kurfürstendamm]. This was the theatre-in-the-round of [W]estern prosperity: a great, gobbling, yelling, laughing stage crowded with fat ladies and dwar[ve]s, marionettes on strings, fire-eaters, strong men and lots of escapologists [21].

To this summation Deighton’s narrator adds, “‘Today I joined the cast.... Now they’ve got an illusionist.’” Amid this carnival-like milieu of pretense and dissimulation, however, only Harry exemplifies any measure of integrity by virtue of his skepticism concerning the “marionettes” he encounters while assigned to arrange a Soviet scientist’s defection to the West. From the outset Funeral in Berlin’s hero has reservations about the intermediaries with whom he must liaise in order to accomplish his mission. Foremost in this regard is James J. Hallam, a narcissistic administrator in London’s Home Office with an “aristocratic Anglo-Saxon face” who views the protagonist as being an “upstart from Burnley — a supercilious, anti-public-school technician” (7, 10). The W.O.O.C.(P) agent he dislikes, however, recognizes that Hallam is a closet homosexual (“He didn’t feel sorry for any girls[;] they were all ... carnivorous. What’s more[,] some of them were none too clean” [10]) whose persiflage indicates that he cannot be trusted in the business at hand. Although falling into a different category of interaction, Samantha Steel represents another impostor.8 A red-haired beauty, supposedly American, who has affairs with both Vulkan and Harry, she turns out to be one Hanna Stahl, an agent for Israeli Intelligence commissioned to return Semitsa, the supposedly defecting molecular biologist, to Haifa so that his research can be used for the development of nerve gas to protect her homeland against Egyptian aggression. Deighton’s vigilant operative, finally, must also deal with the Gehlen Organization’s androidlike members, “the men that the East Germans said were Nazis and the ones that Bonn never talked of at all” (39), who facilitate the cross-border 99

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smuggling of high-profile personages through Checkpoint Charlie for their own ulterior motives. Caught in this web of duplicitous contacts, Harry yet discovers that certain individuals, despite their personal idiosyncrasies, are of use to him as an illusionist performing under the cover name of Edmond Dorf. Preeminent among this group is Colonel Stok, first introduced in The Ipcress File. No longer a naïve Leninist as in his youth, Stok has reached a point of being able to recognize the self-deceiving hypocrisy and blindness of rigidly ideological pieties. Regarding capitalism, for instance, Stok tells Deighton’s protagonist the following parable: “There is a village in Africa where the tribesmen stand in the deep crocodile-infested water, fishing. They send the fish they catch for barter to the next village where the main industry is [that of ] manufacturing wooden legs.” Stok laughed loudly until I had to join in. “That’s capitalism,” said Stok [108].

At the same time the KGB realist relishes another jest that discloses his awareness of the patent absurdity involving justifications for the Cold War: “‘Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. Yes? Well[,] socialism is exactly the reverse’” (170). Without abandoning his commitment to the Soviet Union, Colonel Stok sees beyond the myopic delusions of East and West alike. Significantly, then, it is this Rabelaisian ironist who admonishes a cautious Harry early on that “‘we must trust each other’” and who later, just before denouncing rogue Johnnie Vulkan as being “‘at heart a Fascist,’” warns him of the jeopardy to which the British agent is exposed amid the deliberate ratcheting-up of international tension in Berlin9: “‘They are making a fool of you, English,’ Stok said. ‘They all have their roles to play except you. You are expendable’” (36, 110, 109). One other figure besides Grenade, who again plays a supporting role in Deighton’s third novel, aids Harry as he grapples with his designated mission. This person is George Dawlish, who in Horse Under Water replaces autocratic Major Dalby as head of W.O.O.C.(P). Though nick-named “Grannie” because of his proclivity for purchasing discount Portobello Road china and quirky hobby of cultivating garden weeds, Dawlish still shares a tacit bond of understanding with the protagonist so long as their separate reports to governmental overseers do not contradict one another. The first-person narrator describes this working relationship as follows: 100

3. Len Deighton’s Cold War Triptych Dawlish and I have a perfect system. It is a well-known fact that I am an insolent[,] intractable hooligan over whom Dawlish has only a modicum of control. Dawlish encourages this illusion. One day it will fail. Dawlish will throw me to the wolves. Until he does, Dawlish and I have a closeness in inverse proportion to our differences because that’s his protection, my protection[,] and, believe it or not, Parliament’s protection [200].

Harry freely confesses to admiring Dawlish’s skill in the “tactics of bureaucracy” (Horse 128), especially his ability to secure enhanced agency funding, but he also knows that this “well-bred boa-constrictor” is a Machiavellian capable of sacrificing anyone (Funeral 13). Until that rupture occurs, Dawlish generally backs his Berlin operative, although unlike Colonel Stok he does so for reasons that have little to do with professional esteem but rather with simple expediency. All of these variables merge in the double climax of Funeral in Berlin, which dissolves the putative dichotomy in espionage fiction generally between such symbolic zones as “home” and “abroad.”10 Having already “begun to look upon Berlin as my home” because it “was the only city in the world where you were safer in the dark” (225, 43), Deighton’s wary hero orchestrates Semitsa’s supposed defection via a hearse-borne coffin through Checkpoint Charlie, after which he meets Johnnie Vulkan in a nearby garage for the final transfer. Upon his discovering that the coffin contains only DDR propaganda leaflets, “Stok’s last joke” (246), Vulkan’s long-hatched plan for resurrecting himself as Paul Louis Broum in order to claim £250,000 in Swiss-bank holdings of Nazi victims’ assets founders. “Semitsa” all along, we now realize, has been a metaphor for the concept of everything Semitic, subsuming the Third Reich’s ascendancy to power during the 1930s, Broum’s fraudulent cover-up of his Jewishness, and the lingering guilt of a divided post-war Berlin. Just before their climactic confrontation, Harry thus says to Vulkan: “‘You’ve become so good at pretending to be different that you have lost contact with your identity. You’ve learnt so much jargon that you don’t know which side you are on’” (247). Vulkan/Broum, in other words, has succumbed to the rhetoricity of selffictionalization, against which Colonel Stok and “‘English’” are protected only by their suspicion of the incriminating art of perfidy. As the novel’s first climax ends with Vulkan’s impalement on a set of West German drill bits, it therefore is fitting that the man whom even Stok describes as “‘bril101

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liant’” and who, according to Samantha Steel, has “‘written an analysis of Bartok’s string quartets,’” one that will “‘shatter the music world when it’s published,’” should die quoting Faust—“‘Es irrt der Mensch, so lang er strebt’” (“‘Man errs till his strife is ended’”)— while expressing concern over his ruined suit (110, 121, 251–52). At the same time, however, Deighton uses Vulkan as a lens for offering a harshly critical assessment of England. In a sudden departure from the narrative’s dominant first-person point of view, Chapter 10 gives us John August Vulkan’s thoughts while he surveys a group of expensively attired patrons, mainly Americans, at a Hilton Hotel bar in West Berlin. Realizing that the city “was no place for an intellectual today, whatever it may have been in the thirties,” the former Broum prides himself on having metamorphosed into “a personification of Knallhärte— the tough, almost violent quality that post-war Germany rewarded with admiring glances” (50). This moment of self-adulation, which is not unlike that in Chapter 2 when James Hallam reflects upon his image in a mirror, then leads Vulkan to recall, overhearing a Member of Parliament’s loud remarks about the British automotive industry’s competitive advantage over Volkswagen, his last visit to the United Kingdom: A nation of inventive geniuses where there are forty different types of electrical plug, none of which works efficiently. Milk is safe on the street but young girls in danger, sex indecent but homosexuality acceptable, a land as far north as Labrador with unheated houses, where hospitality is so rare that “landlady” is a pejorative word, where the most boastful natives in the world tell foreigners that the only British shortcoming is modesty [55].

This embedded critique anticipates the setting of Funeral in Berlin’s second climax, which further erodes any hypothetical distinction between home and abroad. The passage’s extradiegetic weight in the novel, moreover, is reinforced later by Chapters 32 and 35 that movingly recount two Czech concentration-camp internees’ memories of Broum at Treblinka: “The art of survival,” observes one, “was the only Jewish art form” (163). We thus are made less susceptible to reaching a pontifical judgment about Johnnie Vulkan for the choices he has made since the Holocaust. Concomitantly, his estimation of England’s post-war insularity and cultural complacency is validated by the novel’s finale. Upon returning to the U.K., supposedly the sphere of safety and sta102

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bility, Deighton’s protagonist faces yet another endgame. His adversary this time is not the chameleonic Vulkan but rather the Home Office’s own Hallam, who earlier had authorized the release of false documents vouching for the identity of Paul Louis Broum as part of a deal struck with Vulkan. Having discovered that Samantha Steel’s former flat in London had been bugged by a neo–Nazi faction, Harry nevertheless agrees to meet with Hallam on Guy Fawkes Night celebrating the Gunpowder Plot’s failure in 1605. Both details obviously suggest the idea of a latent danger within the established order of things. Everything comes out into the open when, amid the city-wide detonation of fireworks and lighting of bonfires, a pistol-wielding Hallam tries to kill the W.O.O.C.(P) agent before expiring in an auto-da-fé while a crowd of uncomprehending revellers mutter inane clichés. The next day Dawlish explains to Harry that their civil-service liaison was about to be sacked as a security risk because of his homosexuality, a purge that reminds Dawlish of such governmentally demonized specters as un–Americanism, Communism, and Aryanism in “‘[t]his damned system’” (290). Deighton thus registers by means of this coda an indictment of political institutions’ readiness to posit bogeymen and conduct purges, whether at home or abroad, in order to achieve their own ends. Within the framework of this larger censure he also emphasizes that Vulkan and Hallam, though otherwise so different, are lineal descendants of Arsène Marie Verrue in Epitaph for a Spy who practice the art of perfidy because their “‘final allegiance was to cash’” (292). Wherein lies, then, Deighton’s originality? In both The Ipcress File and Funeral in Berlin he presents us with a protagonist who, as Panek observes, “goes through various ... baffling experiences” that he eventually plumbs, though until Yesterday’s Spy (1975) we rarely see him engaged in the conventional spy’s tradecraft of intelligence-gathering (225). Immersed instead in plots of baroque complexity and obliquity, Harry is forced into the narratological role of “guessing” while in the dark about his missions’ underlying import. This predicament heightens his disaffection from all existing structures that have made him vulnerable as well as expendable in the “Blind Man’s Bluff ” charade of international espionage. In that respect Deighton captures well the anti–Establishment shift in consciousness associated with the 1960s when long-standing shibboleths were being unmasked as mechanisms of manipulation. For that reason, as Murray 103

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Roston remarks of the modern anti-hero, pseudonymous Harry emerges as “a character who, although seeming to lack the qualities [of ] the traditional hero, succeeds nonetheless in eventually evoking the respect, even the admiration[,] of the reader” (16). Finally, in choosing Berlin as the symbolic milieu for his third novel, Deighton, like the early le Carré and Hall, recognized how the city had become a “theatre-in-the-round” for ideologically driven dissimulation, the legacy of post–World War II compromises. Before the “Anti-Fascist Protection Wall” was demolished late in 1989, Deighton thus devoted no fewer than seven of his “Bernard Samson” novels — the spy trilogy Game, Set, and Match (1983–85), Winter: A Berlin Family, 1899 –1945 (1987), and another trilogy titled Hook, Line, and Sinker (1988–90)— to this iconic site of Cold War tension. Ten years after the publication of Funeral in Berlin its author delved further into the linkage between global struggles for power and the abrogation of individual identity.

Spy Story: Waging War Games Before considering how Deighton develops this characteristic theme in his ninth novel, we should take note of a key passage in The Billion Dollar Brain (1966) that elaborates Colonel Stok’s counsel to Harry, his nominal adversary, about their respective positions amid the larger clash in which both men play a subordinate role: “You must imagine, English, that there are two mighty armies advancing toward each other across a vast[,] desolate place. They have no orders, nor does either suspect that the other is there. You understand how armies move — one man a long way out in front has a pair of binoculars, a submachine gun[,] and a radiation counter. Behind him comes the armor and then the motors and the medical men and finally dentists and the generals and the caviar. So the very first fingertips of those armies will be two not very clever men who, when they meet, will have to decide very quickly whether to extend a hand or pull a trigger.... We are the fingertips,” Stok said [283–84].

The Russian counter-intelligence officer here affirms everything that Dawlish, in a juxtaposed exchange, denies in assuring Harry that “‘responsibility is just a state of mind’” (285). Whereas W.O.O.C.(P)’s director, much like Dr. Emmanuel Percival in Greene’s The Human Factor, dismisses 104

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the idea of moral absolutes, Colonel Stok recognizes the primacy of individual judgment and agency when amassed forces confront one another. Spy Story develops the last point through its two main settings, London’s Strategic War Game Studies Centre (STUCEN) and the bleak Arctic reaches patrolled by surveillance submarines, both of which serve as staging areas for simulated nuclear conflict. The opening of Deighton’s 1974 novel triangulates these paired locales with a puzzling case of impersonation. No longer affiliated with Dawlish’s department, where he resented being “‘just another pawn’” (88), the protagonist now goes under the name of Patrick Armstrong and at the outset is returning with classified data recorded during a 43-day cruise under the polar ice pack to track Soviet maneuvers. After briefly visiting the Centre in Hampstead to secure the updated information for computerized processing, Patrick then heads home to a new flat he shares with Marjorie, a recently separated medical pathologist, but upon his car’s stalling near his former residence at 18 Earl’s Court he enters the premises to phone for a taxi. What he discovers among his personal possessions still there, not including a hidden laboratory connecting his suite to the adjacent apartment, is an uncanny scene of dédoublement. Noticing a familiar photograph, the narrator suddenly detects subtle differences in its tableau of himself: ... The frame was the same as the one I’d bought in Selfridges Christmas Sale in 1967. Inside was almost the same photo: me in tweed jacket, machine washable at number five trousers, cor-blimey hat and two-tone shoes, one of them resting on the chromium of an Alfa Spider convertible. But it wasn’t me. Everything else was the same — right down to the number plates — but the man was older than me and heavier. Mind you, I had to peer closely. We both had no moustache, no beard, no sideboards and an out-of-focus face, but it wasn’t me, I swear it. ... It was the same with everything in the flat. My neck-ties. My chinaware. My bottled Guinness. My Leak hi-fi, and my Mozart piano concertos played by my Ingrid Haebler. And by his bed — covered with the same dark green Witney that I have on my bed — in a silver frame: my Mum and Dad. My Mum and Dad in the garden. The photo I took at their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary [21].

This minutely detailed analysis, of course, reflects the spy’s constant vigilance, even while in a supposedly safe environment, but at another level the interlude prepares for complications that involve a subterfuge for 105

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undermining a conference in Copenhagen on German reunification. Notwithstanding his change of name and employment, the former Harry is still embroiled in circumstances whose “‘permutations of deceit,’” as Deighton writes in The Billion Dollar Brain (286), require him to exercise extreme caution. And at stake this time in Deighton’s Cold War triptych is the concept of individual judgment and agency, which Colonel Stok foresaw as pivotal in the Cold War’s blundering potential for precipitating an Armageddon scenario. Consistent with the pattern of narrational occultation and deferred disclosure already discussed in this chapter, it is only much later in Spy Story that we, simultaneously with the default hero, learn the identity of his Doppelgänger. According to Dawlish at the novel’s end, the pantomime involved finding a look-alike for Rear Admiral Vanya Mikhail Remoziva, Commander of the Northern Fleet’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Command at Murmansk, who had sought defection to the West because he needed a life-saving kidney transplant and whose older sister Katerina, representing the Soviet Politburo, was poised to chair upcoming talks on German federalization. Once again the former W.O.O.C.(P) agent who has become Patrick Armstrong cannot shed his past utility as a pawn in a clandestine campaign of geopolitical gamesmanship. His vulnerability in this regard, stemming from an orchestrated plan that Remoziva might appear to be a British subject, parallels the way in which Deighton’s renamed protagonist is obliged to play a double role for STUCEN. “All time is game time” (28), according to one of the Centre’s codified rules governing war-gaming. Although a close friend of Ferdy Foxwell, a fellow Englishman with whom Patrick has been doing historical reenactments of such earlier conflicts as the Battle of Britain during World War II, he is appointed personal assistant to Colonel Charles Schlegel, III, U.S. Marine Corps Air Wing (retired), a gruff and autocratic American portrayed in Yesterday’s Spy as “the kind of personality that you hire to M.C. an Elks Club stag night” (14). Under NATO agreements Schlegel in Spy Story has been installed as interim head of STUCEN, presumably according to rumor because the Centre, in his own reported words, is poised to be closed down as “‘an antediluvian charity, providing retired limey admirals with a chance to win on the War Games Table the battles they’d screwed up in real life’” (36). Between personal allegiance to Foxwell, whom 106

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Schlegel detests for reasons of cultural bias, and chain-of-command accountability to his new supervisor, Armstrong is divided down the middle. Although he attempts to bridge the chasm of mutual distrust, what Patrick does not know until much later is that Ferdy has been systematically leaking intelligence to Ben Toliver, a Member of Parliament who represents the nucleus of a paramilitary and reactionary coalition called “‘The Club’” intent on securing Rear Admiral Remoziva for bragging rights during the Cold War (156). The war-gaming mentality that prevails at STUCEN, where Foxwell masterminds “Red Suite” or Russian naval movements in mock engagements, thus spills over into real life. As a result, the protagonist finds himself thrust into the position not only of siding with either Schlegel or his friend but also of negotiating developments that stem directly from his operationally compromised commitment. The premise of theatricality or “staging” thus figures prominently in Spy Story. It first surfaces, as already indicated, in the narrative’s account of Patrick Armstrong’s impersonation via retouched photographs of Rear Admiral Remoziva, but it is reinforced by the protagonist’s being duped by both Schlegel and Dawlish, who are acting in concert to discredit the pending summit on German reunification. For his part Armstrong’s new boss has been commissioned to “‘sort out the Toliver complication’” because “a united Germany would have upset the status quo” at a time when the U.S. military establishment was converting to an all-volunteer force (222). Dawlish, on the other hand, colludes because, as the representative of a superseded world power’s espiocracy, he has no other choice. Underlying all this connivance, however, is a more complicated scenario of macroeconomics. If right-wing Toliver, who wishes to resurrect the U.K.’s former prominence in global politics, fears that from “‘a deal between the Americans and the Russians ... will come a bigger[,] stronger capitalist Germany’” (81), the novel’s concluding chapter makes clear that his apprehension, though for different reasons, also alarmed the United States during the early 1970s. Had a treaty of federalization or Wiedervereinigung been ratified before the Cold War’s end, indicates Deighton, a reunited Germany would have had a domino effect: Its agricultural East would make French agriculture suffer, with a resulting gain for the French communists. Meanwhile Germany got a share in the Common Market’s agricultural share-out. Germany’s contribution to NATO —

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The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction something like a third of all NATO forces — would certainly have to be dismantled under the treaty’s terms. U.S. forces in Germany would not be able to withdraw to France, which wasn’t a member of NATO.... It would inevitably mean U.S. withdrawal from Europe. Just as Russia had completed its big five[-] year military build-up. Yes, [it was] worth a couple of operatives [222–23].

What has been driving Spy Story’s plot all along, in other words, has been the dynamic of international economics as it affects national policy and the fate of individual agents used as pawns in war-gaming exercises. Shortly before he escapes from Toliver’s compound on the Blackstone peninsula of Scotland’s Western Isles, a World War II redoubt built in 1941, Patrick Armstrong realizes, “It was if they were all working to a script that I didn’t have” (155). His blinders are finally removed when, with the short-circuiting of German reunification talks, the Deutsch mark “had already begun falling against the dollar and sterling” (222). In the end all that has mattered is a perpetuation of the existing balance of power. Much earlier in the novel Deighton anticipates his text’s motif of theatrical staging by mentioning a televised film still flickering in Marjorie’s flat when Patrick returns late at night from his 43-day mission of Arctic surveillance. What the protagonist glimpses is a typical screen caricature of World War II: “The heroes on the box got the keys to a secret new aeroplane from this piggy-eyed Gestapo man, and this fat[,] short-sighted sentry kept stamping and giving the Heil Hitler salute. The two English cats Heil Hitlered back, but they exchanged knowing smiles as they got in the plane” (30). The reality of actual warfare has been reduced to a cartoonlike facsimile, not unlike the computer-assisted games that STUCEN wages, and it is significant that Armstrong associates part of the movie’s mimicry with the Centre’s brash director. Upon being summoned on a Sunday to Schlegel’s residence at Little Omber, an upscale and faux “English village that only ... Americans and real-estate men can afford,” he watches as the “‘Yank trouble-shooter’” gives “a stiff-armed salutation[,] like the ones in that old ... war film” (37). The same motif surfaces later when Patrick finds himself attending another of the Foxwells’ “musical soirées” at their posh Campden Hill home where even Schlegel enjoys Ferdy’s performance of Noel Coward songs at the piano (73–74, 91–92); when the hero discovers, upon visiting STUCEN’s high-security library, that his identity badge is a forgery (131); and when, during his aborted 108

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vetting by “‘The Club’” at its Blackstone retreat, he experiences an “I’vebeen-here-before feeling that ... had come undiluted from old British war films” (156). The latter sensation is in no way lessened when Dawlish, accompanied by Schlegel, shows up in “‘a carefree holiday home on wheels’” to rescue him. “He would have died,” writes Deighton sardonically, “had anyone accused him of showmanship, but given a chance like this he came on like Montgomery” (171–72). What Spy Story’s author is reinforcing, of course, by all these tropes of dissemblance is the shadow world of playacting to which professional espionage lends itself. All its principals, with the sole exceptions of Patrick Armstrong and possibly Ferdy Foxwell, have subscribed to an ideological agenda that reaches well beyond their delimited spheres of action. They consequently become what An Expensive Place to Die (1967) calls “‘Comédiens,’” designating “actors” but also “phonies” or “impostors” (73). In the finale of Spy Story, therefore, having realized that the retired American officer is “the tired old puppeteer who was working the strings” and Dawlish his co-opted accomplice (42), Armstrong is forced to go it alone. The caption of Deighton’s penultimate chapter, borrowed from STUCEN’s tactical manual, offers an interesting gloss: “It is in the nature of the war game that problems arise that cannot be resolved by the rules” (209). Armstrong discovers the truth of this maxim when, rendezvousing with Stok’s helicopter in the Arctic for Remoziva’s supposed exchange, he is forced to choose between attempting to save Foxwell and adhering to his mandated mission. By choosing the former course, even though his friend dies, he at least refuses conscription into a geopolitical master plan that he never endorsed. Individual judgment and agency, as Colonel Stok had advised in The Billion Dollar Brain, are crucial factors particularly when the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against their efficacy. Given how insightfully this novelist captures the Cold War era’s crosscurrents, it seems parsimonious, as well as not terribly accurate, for commentators such as Brett F. Woods to allege, “[T]he main puzzle about Len Deighton is that, while being such a good writer, he is not even better. One feels he ought to be placed in the same class as [l]e Carré and Greene but just fails” (Neutral Ground 120). Admittedly, Deighton sometimes rushes his plots’ resolutions, a tendency evident in Yesterday’s Spy, and is unduly fond of freighting his early fictional narratives with chapter head109

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ings, discursive footnotes, and explanatory appendices meant to impart an impression of verisimilitude.11 Notwithstanding these weaknesses, however, one cannot but be struck by an espionage novel, in this case An Expensive Place to Die, that begins so memorably as follows: The birds flew around for nothing but the hell of it. It was that sort of spring day: a trailer for the coming summer. Some birds flew in neat[,] disciplined formations, some in ragged mobs, and higher, much higher flew the loner who didn’t like corporate decisions [7].

That “loner” is an unnamed successor to the pseudonymous hero of The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin, and Spy Story who, as we find out by the end of Deighton’s fifth novel, “flew purposefully ... on a course as straight as a light beam” (252). Even when adapting Chandler’s style the author of An Expensive Place to Die deepens its resonance while continuing to develop his opening paragraph’s suggestive imagery: Summer rain is cleaner than winter rain. Winter rain strikes hard upon the granite, but summer rain is sibilant soft upon the leaves. This rainstorm pounced hastily like an inexperienced lover, and then as suddenly was gone. The leaves drooped in wistfully[,] and the air gleamed with green reflections. It’s easy to forgive the summer rain; like first love, white lies or blarney, there’s no malignity in it [67].

Like le Carré, his near contemporary, Deighton also emphasizes the ethical imperative of taking personal responsibility in a culture prone to abdicating in favor of “corporate decisions.”12 For this reason, not to mention his supple prose and complex narrational strategies, he deserves broader attention as a crossover figure who transformed the field of popular espionage fiction at a time when Ian Fleming’s escapist Bondiad was all the rage. If what I have termed Len Deighton’s Cold War triptych projects uncannily well the counter–Establishment orientation of the 1960s and early 1970s, at least one subsequent novel reveals his exploring new arenas of global tension in the Age of Terrorism. MAMista (1991), whose title is an acronym for “Movimiento de Acción Marxista,” traces the struggle of revolutionary guerrillas against the CIA when oil reserves have recently been discovered in Spanish Guiana’s jungle, but, while incorporating shades of Greene’s The Honorary Consul, it constitutes a relatively straightforward though bleak adventure tale rather than an espionage thriller. 110

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With City of Gold (1992) and Violent Ward (1993) Deighton returned, respectively, to the North African battlefields of World War II and the Mickey Spillane environs of Los Angeles, although again neither of these later productions extends his diagnosis of the spy’s lonely plight. In this respect only le Carré has outlasted himself. The next chapter will attempt to account for how the genre’s indisputable master has negotiated the post– Cold War turn in international politics.

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John le Carré’s Post–Cold War Labyrinths “Le Carré is Greene’s most successful beneficiary,” writes William M. Chace, “taking from him the perception that the compelling interest of spy fiction rests not in its action and events, but in its polarities of knowledge and ignorance, corruption and innocence, omniscience and exploitation” (174). What the widely acclaimed author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974), The Honourable Schoolboy (1977), Smiley’s People (1979), The Little Drummer Girl (1983), and A Perfect Spy (1986) principally absorbs from Greene, he goes on to say, is “the hermeticism that characterizes the genre of the espionage novel,” meaning the tradecraft’s procedures and discursive practices that often deceive members of “the closed guild of intelligence workers” (175). Certainly the huge success of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, which Greene lauded as “the best spy story I have ever read” and which Time magazine enshrined in its list of 100 preeminent English-language novels published since 1923,1 owes much to its nuanced critique of clandestinity during the Cold War. After that confrontation’s end more than one reviewer publicly pondered whether le Carré could endure as a writer whose main focus was espionage’s labyrinthine complexity. Since then, however, David John Moore Cornwell has written two works, The Tailor of Panama (1996) and The Constant Gardener (2001), that in a BBC interview broadcast on 5 October 2008 he singled out as being among his four most accomplished fictional narratives.2 To this pair should be added A Most Wanted Man (2008). These texts, which have received far less attention than his pre–1990 sagas of Cambridge Circus, are best approached by a brief overview of le Carré’s response to the Cold War’s thaw. Always a humanistic liberal who consistently has urged the case for 112

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“a moral order beyond ideology” (Aronoff 2), Cornwell dismissed some critics’ claim that his twelfth novel titled The Russia House (1989) was “naïve” by asking whether it was possible, “after 40 years of being locked into the ice of the [C]old [W]ar,” that “some of us in the West have lost the will, even the energy, to climb out and face a more hopeful future.” He went on to pose the following questions to his New York Times luncheon audience on 17 September 1989: Do we want to assist in the shaping of a Soviet market economy? Or is it more convenient to forecast its collapse and watch the prophesy fulfill itself? ... Have we now entered a new time, where we need the old divisions to justify our galloping materialism? ... ... Shall we go on dreaming about more refined ways to kill each other — or do we prefer to dream of a partnership of superpowers that could address itself to tomorrow’s enemies rather than to yesterday’s? Such enemies as drugs, terrorism, poverty, ... the pollution of our air, sea, beaches, rivers, forests? I do not believe the millennium is upon us. But I do believe we are witnessing an hour in history as momentous as 1917, and that we have yet fully to wake from the morbid confinement of [C]old [W]ar belligerence and seize the brave opportunities waiting on us — though for how long? [“Why I Came In”].

Clearly le Carré recognized the Soviet Union’s imminent collapse as a watershed moment of opportunity for an elusive rapprochement between West and East, one that in retrospect he regards as having been squandered,3 but equally revealing are le Carré’s comments in The Washington Post some two months later about espionage fiction’s future: The spy novel was not born out of the Cold War. The Cold War puffed it large because spying was the genre of the world in which we were forced to live.... But don’t imagine for one second that, just because the Cold War’s over, the spooks aren’t having a ball. In times of such uncertainty as this, the world’s intelligence industries will be beavering away like never before. For decades to come, the spy world will continue to be the collective couch where the subconscious of each nation is confessed, where its secret neuroses, paranoias, hatred and fantasies are whispered to the microphones [“Will Spy Novels”].

Articulated in this declaration is the plausible belief that, the world being what it is, espionage will continue to thrive during a time of transnational insecurities that project a psychological crippling or debilitation of the “individual” (see Hindersmann 27).4 This implicit nexus reveals much about the general direction of le Carré’s post–Cold War novels. It also perhaps alerts us to where the spy genre may be moving by way of adap113

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tation to a new set of global circumstances no longer generated by a facile binary of “Us” versus “Them.” Before exploring The Tailor of Panama in light of this idea, we should take stock of two narratives by le Carré that shed light on how his fiction bridged the Cold War’s end. The Secret Pilgrim (1990), less a novel than an elegiac collection of short stories, recounts in the form of a Bildungsroman the reminiscences of Ned, former head of “Russia House,” while listening to retired spymaster George Smiley expatiate on his career-long service to a graduating class of MI6 agents at their Sarratt training school. Smiley’s message to the new recruits halfway through his address, ratifying le Carré’s views about the future of institutionalized espionage, is meant to bolster confidence in their choice of a vocation: “Spying is eternal,” he announced simply. “If governments could do without it, they never would. They adore it. If the day ever comes when there are no enemies left in the world, governments will invent them for us, so don’t worry. Besides — who says we only spy on enemies? All history teaches us that today’s allies are tomorrow’s rivals. Fashion may dictate priorities, but foresight doesn’t. For as long as rogues become leaders, we shall spy. For as long as there are bullies and liars and madmen in the world, we shall spy. For as long as nations compete, and politicians deceive, and tyrants launch conquests, and consumers need resources, and the homeless look for land, and the hungry for food, and the rich for excess, your chosen profession is perfectly secure, I can assure you” [193].

Qualifying this encouragement, however, is Smiley’s preliminary caution, “‘By being all things to all spies, one does rather run the risk of becoming nothing to oneself.... [T]here’s a price to pay, and the price does tend to be oneself. Easy to sell one’s soul at your age. Harder later’” (9). This insight proves true in the case of Ned who, recalling his previous escapades on behalf of Cambridge Circus, realizes too late that he has sacrificed personal fulfillment for professional obligation. His chronological reminiscences run the gamut from the purely farcical (Ned’s “protecting” the kleptomaniacal wife of an Arab potentate at London’s lingerie shops) to the soul-searching (Ben Arno Cavendish’s unrequited love for Ned as a fellow novitiate spy and “secret twin” [47]) to baffling conflicts of commitment (Ned’s involvement with “one Wolf Dittrich, alias Sea Captain Brandt,” and his consort Bella [78]) to conniving imposture (Professor Teodor and Ladislaus Kaldor’s duping of Western intelligence) to the the114

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matic centerpiece of disenchantment (lapsed spy Hansen, who “in his Cambodian jungle was my Kurtz at the heart of darkness” [194], and his decision to forsake all in order to protect his Eurasian prostitute daughter) to, finally, betrayal of the human yearning for companionship (mid-level cipher clerk Cyril Arthur Frewin, whom Ned interrogates ruthlessly about his suspected collaboration with Moscow). The upshot of all these episodes is a trenchant indictment of how spying and the allegiances it forges deaden human sensitivity. By dint of lending himself to subterfuge, Ned has lost his moral compass. Significantly, in his final assignment before retiring, he also comes up short in dealing with Sir Anthony Joyston Bradshaw, an unscrupulous peer of Her Majesty’s Government who is complicit in overseas arms deals. This opposing force, like Eric Ambler’s consortium of Cator and Bliss, subscribes to a credo of nihilistic relativism, which Bradshaw slangily rationalizes by saying that “‘if I don’t sell ’em the goods, some other charlie will’” (372). Against such a tendentious defense of capitalistic opportunism, Ned is ineffectual, having capitulated years earlier to the ethos of corporate expediency and loyalty. In a 1997 interview for Paris Review, when asked by George Plimpton whether he had “trouble finding adversarial situations” for his fictional characters after the Cold War, le Carré answered “No” before admitting, “I’m not saying that I made the transition easily. I think I stumbled a couple of times” (“John le Carré: The Art” 152). The Secret Pilgrim may be one of those texts in which he faltered. A piecemeal and less than artistically satisfying novel, it nonetheless limns how le Carré was coming to terms with that conflict’s legacy by rehearsing a case history of one agent’s forfeiture of integrity through his involvement with the “Secret State.” A 2001 epilogue announced, “In The Secret Pilgrim I determined to make a last farewell of the Cold War.... I wanted to consider who we had been and who had become” (379). Ned’s recollection of his mentor’s verdict on that struggle’s outcome reflects le Carré’s own stance: “I remembered Smiley’s aphorism about the right people losing the Cold War, and the wrong people winning it.... I thought of telling him that now we had defeated Communism, we were going to have to set about defeating capitalism, but that wasn’t really my point: the evil was not in the system, but in the man” (373–74). Although this distinction between “system” and “man” might seem untenable to politically invested critics, le Carré’s next novel indicted 115

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the universality of greed in the New World Order while also exploring the motivation of those few who oppose it. The consummate villain of The Night Manager (1993) is 50-year-old Richard Onslow Roper, obscenely wealthy CEO of Ironbrand Land, Ore & Precious Metals Company, who early in 1991 during the Gulf War figures hyperbolically as “the worst man in the world” (6). Under cover of his legitimate business Roper coordinates an international munitions trade that during recessionary times offers even better terms than established governments for advanced weaponry marketed in exchange for cocaine. Le Carré casts this unapologetic apostle of social Darwinism, for whom those like Sir Anthony Joyston Bradshaw are mere lackeys, as a metaphysical principle of evil against whose corruptive influence among a global elite the narrative’s controlling voice rails.5 Compounding this portrait of Roper is the fact that nothing in his background accounts for what he became. When asked “‘What makes him run?’” (86), even Leonard Burr, the maverick agent fiercely intent on apprehending Roper, cannot provide an explanation based on the usual behaviorist model of formative conditioning: “‘Father a small-time auctioneer and valuer in the shires. Mother a pillar of the local church. One brother. Private schools the parents couldn’t afford.’” Richard Onslow Roper, in other words, is an incarnation of absolute venality or, as Burr prefers to say, proof that intrinsic “‘Evil exists’” (87). Allowing for this answer, one suspects that le Carré may be allegorizing what he deems the gravest threat to a reconstructed geopolitics after the Cold War. In an equivocal review of The Night Manager for the New York Review of Books, David Remnick posited that the novel’s antagonist represented a “Goldfinger for grown-ups.” So construed, Roper is less a character in his own right than the epitome of what its author denounced eight years later as the inevitable outcome of “unbridled capitalism” (“In Place” 12). Substantiating this assessment is Roper’s role as an underworld linchpin. Hedged round by an inner circle of deviant bodyguards, lawyers, and flunkies while in residence at his privately owned Caribbean island or on board his opulent 250-foot yacht, le Carré’s modern Mephistopheles functions as patron saint to a clientele that ranges from Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 1970s to such subsequent malefactors as terrorists of all ideological stripes, Colombian drug-lords, and multinational soldiers of for116

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tune. In addition to these extremist groups Roper’s octopus-like reach extends to Parliament and the British security Establishment. We thus find the espiocrats of “Pure Intelligence” or MI6, headed by sinister Director Geoffrey Darker, subverting the operationally devoted members of “Enforcement,” backed by idealistic Rex Goodhew acting on behalf of a Joint Steering Committee. (The chosen names are none too subtle, suggesting a Manichean morality play.) This subplot of internecine duplicity, which is fomented by a suborned CIA faction, is another manifestation of Roper’s insidious sway. What le Carré demonstrates, then, is a “widespread loss of purpose” within bureaucracy that “results ultimately in the victory of technique over principle, the withering of individual responsibility, and a pervasive tendency towards human betrayal” (Neuse 301). In lonely counterpoint to Richard Onslow Roper is le Carré’s 25year-old hero, a man on the run from his ghost-haunted childhood in England. “Orphaned only son of a cancer-ridden German beauty and a British sergeant of infantry killed in one of his country’s many postcolonial wars, graduate of a rainy archipelago of orphanages, foster homes, halfmothers, cadet units and training camps, sometime army wolf-child with a special unit in even rainier Northern Ireland, caterer, chef, itinerant hotelier, perpetual escapee from emotional entanglements, volunteer, collector of other people’s languages, self-exiled creature of the night and sailor without a destination” (33), Jonathan Pine is driven primarily by recrimination for unwittingly occasioning the murder of his Egyptian lover in Cairo. The self-divided “close observer,” as he is described repeatedly, atones by agreeing to infiltrate Roper’s compound, a covert operation supported only by Burr as well as American tacticians Joseph Strelski and Pat Flynn. Eventually this small contingent, motivated by moral outrage, succeeds in its mission despite being blocked at every turn by conniving intelligence officers on both sides of the Atlantic, all of whom are former Cold Warriors now “‘[p]laying the world’s game’” of “‘making a few bob on the side’” (231). The novel’s happy, generally unconvincing resolution, which includes Pine’s winning over Roper’s mistress as well as Burr and company’s defeating (at least temporarily) the combined forces of darkness, is a rarity in le Carre’s oeuvre. Without overlooking the text’s flaws, John L. Cobbs offers a balanced overview: “On the one hand, The Night Manager is a pure thriller, with an energized superspy of awesome skill and attractiveness 117

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who tilts against romanticized villains. On the other hand, it is a serious study of the structure of evil in the postwar world” (219). All the deficiencies found in The Night Manager, however, are absent from The Tailor of Panama three years later. Rather than a “superspy” adept in sailing, mountain-climbing, watercolor painting, tennis, and gourmet cooking, we have in Harry Pendel a protagonist who is one part schlemiel, one part con artist, and one part struggling Everyman. Similarly, rather than shallow depictions of sexual chemistry, we get a sympathetic understanding of mature love relationships. Finally, rather than an extradiegetic third-person perspective, le Carré relies on an intermeshed set of inner dialogues by means of which he exposes the folly of dissemblance in a picaresque tale of the post–Cold War world. This achievement, as he readily acknowledged, was inspired by Our Man in Havana, thereby attesting to Greene’s grasp of the chicanery that perpetuates the Great Game.

The Tailor of Panama: Narrational “Fluence” Although he does not mention Greene, literary scholar Stewart Crehan illuminates what le Carré gleaned from his precursor — namely, as cited in this chapter’s opening, “the perception that the compelling interest of spy fiction rests not in its action and events, but in its polarities of knowledge and ignorance, corruption and innocence, omniscience and exploitation.” Observing that in all of the early novels through A Perfect Spy “bureaucratic collectivism and ‘absolutism’ (whether of the East or the West) are seen to corrode moral honesty, genuine feeling[,] and authentic individuality” (103), he argues that surveillance, secrecy, and the covert gathering of information comprise the narratological key to le Carré’s work. Scenes of interrogation, both formal and informal, thus become crucial in unraveling “a political economy of information based on the principle of scarcity and ownership” (110). Crehan’s approach suggests that le Carré’s texts typically entail a teasing-out of reliable data, the stock-intrade of an undercover agent, resulting in a progressive encroachment on the privileged domains of informational scarcity and ownership. In order to be effective, as in The Tailor of Panama, this endeavor necessitates a 118

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juggling of leading characters’ synchronic perspectives on both present and past events in their lives. The gift of “fluence” ascribed to Harry Pendel pertains directly to the author’s own narrational strategy in this exemplary work. Half Jewish and half Irish illegitimate nephew of his Uncle Benjamin in the East End of London, Pendel as an orphaned teenager was sentenced to six years in prison, of which he served two and a half, for agreeing to torch his surrogate father’s struggling clothing factory in order that Uncle Benny might collect arson insurance. While serving time for the deed, Harry learned the art of custom tailoring, which le Carré’s text equates with the concept of fluence: It was tailoring. It was improving on people. It was cutting and shaping them until they became understandable members of [Pendel’s] internal universe. It was fluence. It was running ahead of events and waiting for them to catch up. It was making people bigger or smaller according to whether they enhanced or threatened his existence [52].

After that criminal episode the protagonist’s grateful relative shipped his nephew off to Panama where, with the assistance of wealthy family friend Charlie Blüthner — who, says Harry’s uncle, “‘wouldn’t be where he is today if Benny hadn’t kept shtum for him just like you did for me’” (87)— and greatly aided by his own flair for “‘Jewish chutzpah’” coupled with “‘Irish blarney’” (82), Pendel has succeeded in reinventing his background. Concocting a myth of “My Early Struggle,” he claims to have been taken under the wing of one Arthur Braithwaite, who upon his fictive death left the supposed apprentice sole proprietor of “the house of Pendel & Braithwaite Co. Limitada, Tailors to Royalty, formerly of Savile Row, London, and presently of the Vía España, Panama City” (3). Under cover of this fabrication Harry more than a dozen years ago wooed wife Louisa, resentful younger daughter of a U.S. Army engineer; moved to an upscale neighborhood with their two children; vastly expanded his haberdashery’s customer base; and, with an inheritance from Louisa’s father, purchased a now failing, heavily mortgaged rice farm. Two other allegiances, neither of which involves his self-impersonation, compete with Harry Pendel’s strong commitment to family. Pressured by a relentless sense of guilt, he feels responsible for the brutalization of employee Marta and friend Mickie Abraxas, both of whom as dissident students at the time were victimized 119

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by Manuel Noriega’s “Dignity Battalions” in December 1989 when the United States bombed the capital. Into these circumstances abruptly intrudes 26-year-old Andrew Julian Osnard, an entirely self-interested MI6 agent who, having access to confidential dossiers, threatens the protagonist with exposure unless he consents to enlistment as an informant on the Panama Canal’s fate in light of its pending turnover on 31 December 1999 pursuant to the 1977 treaty brokered by President Jimmy Carter. The stage is thus set for a confrontation between innocent fictionalization or fluence, which stems from a desire for “improving on people,” and the manipulation of informational scarcity and ownership. Cornered by this threat to the foundation on which he has constructed his life in Panama, Pendel reverts instinctively to the strategy that has served him in the past. Expressed in the form of Uncle Benny’s Yiddish admonition, Harry will “drucken” himself (“‘Go small. Don’t be anybody[;] don’t look at anybody’” [43]) in his interactions with Osnard while simultaneously “plac[ing] himself in the clothes of whomever he is cutting for, and becom[ing] that person until the rightful owner claims them” (15). Drawing on Louisa’s work as personal assistant to Dr. Ernesto Delgado, head of the Panama Canal Commission, and embellishing the histories of Marta and Mickie as anti–Noriega activists, Harry Pendel spins a fable about Japanese interventionism and the hypothetical efforts of a “Silent Opposition” to counter it. Given Whitehall’s desire no longer to be subservient to the United States as a world power and Andy Osnard’s purely larcenous motives, which make both him and his London handlers credulous consumers of Pendel’s inventions, The Tailor of Panama neatly juxtaposes two realms of deception. That which prevails initially is MI6’s bureaucratic susceptibility to imposture. When Osnard is first posted to the British Embassy in Panama, his immediate supervisor is the besotted fantasist Scottie Luxmore who, having gotten everything wrong in the Falklands debacle, is determined to sniff out the next theatre of crisis for Her Majesty’s Government. His farcical gullibility permits “‘young Mr. Osnard’” (166), as Luxmore is fond of patronizing his latest understudy, to piece together a politically charged story that meets all of his doltish audience’s expectations. Dramatized here is the infectious nature of morally spurious fiction that is credited because of a need to advance private agendas. Before long Whitehall’s yearning for 120

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a cause célèbre gives rise to a well funded operation code-named BUCHAN, overseen by “influence pedlar” Geoffrey Cavendish and backed by “British media baron” Ben Hatry (151, 241), the fatuous machinations of which soon percolate down to Panamanian Ambassador Maltby and Head of Chancery Nigel Stormont. Recognizing an opportunity to feather their own financial nests from London’s largesse for Pendel’s “field” information, the subalterns quickly authenticate Harry’s fabrications even while recognizing that “‘the BUCHAN stuff is the most frightful tosh’” (261). The bureaucratic chain of delusion blindly asserts informational authority at this point. When Andy Osnard as the original opportunist begins to suspect, for example, that he has been scammed by the humble tailor’s “grand vision” (218), he confides his doubts late at night to supervisor Luxmore, who summarily dismisses them: Listen to me, Andrew. That’s an order. There is a conspiracy. Don’t lose heart merely because you’re tired. Of course there is a conspiracy. You believe it, I believe it. One of the greatest opinion[-]makers [Ben Hatry] in the world believes it. Personally. Profoundly. The best brains in Fleet Street believe it, or they very soon will. A conspiracy is out there[;] it is being cobbled together by an evil inner circle of the Panamanian elite[;] it centres on the Canal[,] and we shall find it! [193–94].

Institutionalized deception now takes on the weight of facticity, blithely ignoring distinctions between truth and fantasy. From such conflations, suggests le Carré, spring campaigns for invading other countries in the name of protecting “Western values” while also safeguarding the First World’s access to foreign markets. Balanced against the hegemonic narrative orchestrated by MI6 are the private histories of Harry Pendel, his wife Louisa, and Andy Osnard. Much of The Tailor of Panama’s virtuosity derives from its author’s interlacing of principal characters’ colloquies with obsessive voices from their pasts, exchanges that constitute a kind of silent self-interrogation. For each of the main figures, though with varying degrees of conscious awareness, the question around which their reveries revolve is that of how they became dissemblers to themselves and others. The novel’s protagonist, for example, is intermittently engaged in inner dialogue with Uncle Benny about, among other things, his hybrid origins as an orphan, his resurrection after prison as fictitious successor to Arthur Braithwaite, and his initiation into the 121

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“Brotherhood,” a loose-knit fraternity of expatriate entrepreneurs in Panama. At the center of all Pendel’s ruminations lies the vexed issue of who, finally, he is to himself. That fundamental problem of loyalty and identity is resolved by Harry only when, in the novel’s dénouement, he sacrifices his comfortable suburban life in the hilltop neighborhood of Bethania to accept responsibility for causing the suicide of friend Mickie Abraxas through his fluence —“Loose threads, plucked from the air, woven and cut to measure” (200)— and walks into an uncertain future as American gunships, set into motion by his fabricated tales of geopolitical opposition, once again descend on the Panamanian slums of El Chorillo to bomb their impoverished inhabitants. In contrast to her husband’s struggle with his fluid past, Louisa wrestles with the fixity of her background as a “Zonian, raised in the Canal Zone in the days when by extortionate treaty it was American territory forever, even if the territory was only ten miles wide and fifty miles long and surrounded by despised Panamanians” (4). Her bête noire is father Milton Jennings as well as older sibling Emily, who between them have poisoned the wellsprings of her self-image. Having internalized the patriarchal judgment that she is “‘a cold, mean-hearted bitch’” (69; see also 289), Louisa Pendel loved her husband with an intensity understood only by women who have known what it is like to have been born into the pampered captivity of bigoted parents and to have a beautiful elder sister four inches shorter than you who does everything right two years before you do it wrong, who seduces your boyfriends even if she doesn’t go to bed with them, though usually she does, and obliges you to take the path of Noble Puritanism as the only available response [120].

Despite their genuine commitment to one another, le Carré stresses that Harry and Louisa’s marriage is based on a web of crippling needs that neither can satisfy for the other because both, though in markedly different fashion, have been deprived of any foundational identity. The trauma suffered by the young Pendel as a ward of Our Sisters of Charity Orphanage in London, followed by his tutelage under Uncle Benny, has turned him into a “born impersonator” (15). Although she cannot admit it, the same is true of Louisa Jennings Pendel, who has suffered a dispossession associated with her stiflingly restrictive, essentially colonialist, upbringing.6 122

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Thus, despite her husband’s promise, “‘I’m going to make it all right for us’” (129), Louisa turns increasingly to vodka for solace as she gradually discovers that he is somehow complicit with Andy Osnard and that she shares Harry’s devotion with Marta. Thirteen years ago Mr. Braithwaite’s apprentice, as Louisa believes, had “come along to save her from her parents and the Zone, and provide her with a new, free, decent life away from everything that till then had held her down” (120), but that all changes once Harry’s runaway fluence leads him to recruit his wife as a BUCHAN source of insider information. Pendel is trying simply to play what he understands to be the survivalist’s game of imposture, but in the process Louisa is reduced to “a casualty he had created long ago, in collaboration with her mother and father and Braithwaite and Uncle Benny and the Sisters of Charity and all the other people who made up the person he himself had become” (267). The third principal character into whose mind we are afforded a glimpse, though fittingly given its shallowness a more cursory one, is Andy Osnard. Suddenly materializing one day at the Pendel & Braithwaite emporium, the crass opportunist who “‘adore[s] a con. What life’s about’” moves quickly to leverage his knowledge about Harry’s background to his own advantage (41). Viewing this new customer initially as a fellow exile, Harry “set aside his prejudices in favour of a common bond” (17); however, it soon becomes apparent that Osnard seeks to manipulate every facet of the tailor’s life. Regarding his past the young Briton, whose private mantra is “Chance favours only the prepared mind ” (163), proves unforthcoming, but later we learn that Andy is the younger son of a down-at-the-heels family whose record of decay from one generation to the next has prepared him well to understand the phenomenon of “English rot” (164). Casting about for a vocation, he first explored Fleet Street journalism, Anglicanism, and the National Trust before signing on with MI6 because he divined correctly that “here were sceptics, dreamers, zealots[,] and mad abbots” in the post–Cold War era with “the cash to make [the nation’s most private prayers] real” (165). In this capacity the eminently corruptible Osnard becomes not only Pendel’s embezzling paymaster but also Louisa’s sexual partner when, desperate to ascertain the truth about her husband, she drunkenly confronts his blackmailer while Harry, en route to the scene of Mickie Abraxas’s suicide, seeks to make amends for his lifetime of “mis123

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taken homage” (305). In the novel’s coda the ambitious operative vanishes, though his eventual resurfacing after Britain’s supporting role in the U.S. invasion of Panama dubbed Operation Safe Passage seems all but guaranteed. The Tailor of Panama’s concluding chapter, set during the American assault as observed by Harry Pendel from his Bethania balcony, records Uncle Benny’s remembered prayer of atonement: “We live on the edge of ourselves, terrified of the darkness within.... We have harmed, corrupted[,] and ruined[;] we have made mistakes and deceived ” (327). His words resonate in the protagonist’s mind because, needing to “enrich the fictions of others” and find “renewal in the remaking of his world” (64), Harry chose the wrong framework in terms of which to ennoble his personae beyond the limits of their lives’ disabling contingencies. Mickie Abraxas, for example, could never be the leader of a populist insurgency after his spiritbreaking torture by Noriega’s thugs, any more than Louisa Pendel could betray reformist Dr. Ernesto Delgado after witnessing Panama’s exploitation. As an “inventor of people and places of escape” (310), Harry erred not only in miscalculating human vulnerability but also in lending credence to MI6’s paranoia regarding non–Western control of the Canal. Assuming, then, that we can construe Uncle Benny’s words as a final insight, the narrative projects a world in which Pendelian invention compromises its practitioners when “nothing is more predictable than the media’s parroting of its own fictions and the terror of each competitor that it will be scooped by the others, whether or not the story is true” (241). Implicit again is the idea of informational ownership. In the novel’s climax, as Harry risks all to retrieve his friend Mickie’s corpse, he is represented as undergoing a decisive transformation: And suddenly Harry Pendel changed. He was not a different man but himself at last, a man possessed and filled with his own strength. In one glorious ray of revelation he saw beyond melancholy, death[,] and passivity to a grand validation of his life as an artist, an act of symmetry and defiance, vengeance and reconciliation, a majestic leap into a realm where all the spoiling limitations of reality are swept away by the larger truth of the creator’s dream [312].

Despite this stirring proclamation of recovery by the individual subject or auteur, we should not ignore the extent to which it constitutes a questionable epiphany, especially when we recall that Pendel’s earlier fictions were 124

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essentially drafted by a handful of powerbrokers exercising their influence over both Parliament and Congress. This behind-the-scenes cabal includes not only smooth-tongued Geoffrey Cavendish and reactionary press mogul Ben Hatry in the U.K. but also their right-wing militaristic counterparts in the U.S., who among themselves are capable of “turn[ing] rumour into received certainty” and precipitating yet another cycle of allegedly preemptive aggression in a foreign country (241). Clive Bloom, in his introduction to an edited collection titled Spy Thrillers: From Buchan to le Carré, begins by postulating, “In many respects the spy genre like the world it depicts is a form attempting to exist in disguise.” On the one hand, while upholding a “bourgeois ideology of autonomous individual freedom” (1), as encapsulated in The Tailor of Panama’s presentation of Harry Pendel’s climactic epiphany, it probes the question of secret information’s custodianship. Complicating this latent ideology, on the other hand, is the problem of how one asserts freedom of action in an age of manufactured agency and disinformation. If “the enemy are that which the hero is not: faceless, soulless, amorphous automata who blindly obey unseen masters and whose autonomy and individuality [are] absolutely curtailed by obedience to absolutism itself,” then the traditional hero becomes “an anti-hero devoid of any hope or tragic potential” as well as “a pawn in a wider game” (4). This assessment captures well the plight of le Carré’s protagonist in his 1996 novel, for whom the otherwise liberating gift of fluence or imagination is tainted from the start by collectivist propaganda.

The Constant Gardener: Interrogation and Discovery “Reacting against the action-packed, high-tech spy thriller,” remarks Crehan, “le Carré returns to a more hermeneutic genre: the detective mystery, from which much spy fiction is in any case derived” (106). This observation is accurate for the most part but should be qualified by a crucial distinction. As Bloom notes, the spy genre is a disguised literary form. More specifically, as documented in this study’s prolegomenon, we must take into account Allan Hepburn’s insight that espionage fiction is primarily 125

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about hermeneusis (codes) while detective fiction is primarily about exegesis (clues). Crehan himself seems to acknowledge this variance when, shortly after the above statement, he writes: “[T]he principal difference, however, is that whereas in a detective mystery a crime — usually a single event — has to be solved, in the le Carréan spy novel a multiple train of facts and appearances, actions and circumstances, including criminal acts such as murder, ha[s] to be unravelled as part of a mission” (107). Although limited to discussing only le Carré’s pre–1988 work, Crehan’s essay pinpoints with uncanny precision the dominant narrational pattern of The Constant Gardener. More so than any of his other books since The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, the author’s eighteenth narrative focuses on the dialogical giveand-take of interrogation, which comprises approximately 40 percent of its 477 pages, as Justin Quayle, career Foreign Office diplomat stationed in Nairobi, Kenya, attempts to solve the mystery of who murdered his much younger wife Tessa Abbott Quayle, and why, on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana. Dispassionate, painfully courteous, and for most of his life “totally loyal to London guidance” (77), Justin begins to abandon his circumscribed life of professional duty and detachment upon learning of Tessa’s grisly assassination. The main character’s moral development in the course of pursuing this quest, as Todd McGowan observes about Fernando Meirelles’s 2005 film adaptation, entails his belated discovery of a Heideggerian authenticity of being, an awakening that comes about through his immersion in “a temporality of the real” (58). In the process Justin Quayle must also begin to think like a spy while piecing together cryptic leads and fragmented bits of information from sundry sources. Before the protagonist’s metanoia begins, however, both he and Sandy Woodrow, his supervisor as Head of Chancery for the British High Commission in Nairobi, are relentlessly cross-examined over several days by two detectives dispatched by Scotland Yard’s Overseas Crime Division to investigate the case. Woodrow is grilled first. Adept in “sleek evasions” (137), he manages initially to stonewall interrogators about why political activist Tessa Quayle, who recently had suffered the loss of infant son Garth, was in the company of Dr. Arnold Bluhm —“the Westerner’s African,” as conceived by Woodrow, and “bearded Apollo of the Nairobi cocktail round, charismatic, witty, beautiful” (23)— while en route 126

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upcountry to meet Richard Leakey, champion of Kenyans’ rights under the corrupt regime of President Daniel Arap Moi. Woodrow soon is cornered by probing questions about why he visited Mrs. Quayle twice at Uhuru Hospital after her stillbirth delivery and how he disposed of a research document she had entrusted to him concerning the malfeasance of international conglomerate Bell, Barker & Benjamin, better known as ThreeBees, in using destitute Kenyans as guinea pigs before marketing its tuberculosis antigen Dypraxa to the West. Getting wind of the story about Bluhm, the British press sensationalizes it by depicting him as an “archetypal black killer” who reverted to racial propensities, notwithstanding his highly educated background as “the adopted Congolese son of a wealthy Belgian mining couple” (55). Sandy Woodrow meanwhile tries to conceal the fact that in an unguarded moment he had declared in writing his infatuation with 25-year-old Tessa Quayle, despite having forwarded her potentially inflammatory report to Sir Bernard Pellegrin, “Foreign Office mandarin with special responsibility for Africa” (22–23), in the hope of usurping Porter Coleridge as High Commissioner and paving the way for an honorary knighthood. After listening to Woodrow’s prevarications, neither of the detectives credits them as amounting to anything more than a cover-up. Le Carré thereby links obliquely the diplomatic establishment’s perfidy regarding one of its own, Justin’s slain wife, with the mystery involving clinical trials for Dypraxa and criminal practices of the worldwide pharmaceutical industry. The investigators’ interviews with Tessa’s widowed husband, recounted in flashback after her burial in an African cemetery, appear in the narrative during his flight back to London. Already, in other words, the protagonist is beginning to sift the available evidence related to his insurmountable loss. Unlike those of the “‘status quo man’” Sandy Woodrow (45), Justin’s responses to the questions of Scotland Yard’s detectives are straightforward and candid, even though he knows that they suspect him of complicity in a contract killing based on jealousy of his wife’s unconventionally close friendship with Arnold Bluhm. Quayle’s answers differ from his supervisor’s evasions in at least one other respect. Besides having nothing to hide, he freely admits that he failed Tessa by “‘detaching [himself ]’” and “‘letting her go it alone’” (124). That for which Justin is expressing remorse is the legacy of a privileged class background,7 which has trained him as a mem127

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ber of Her Majesty’s postcolonial Foreign Office to espouse a “lofty nihilism”: “Until now he had regarded strongly held convictions as the natural enemies of the diplomat, to be ignored, humored or, like dangerous energy, diverted into harmless channels. Now to his surprise he saw them as emblems of courage” (133). Interwoven with the bereaved widower’s confession of complacency and culpability is his memory of how, four years earlier, he and Tessa Abbott first met. Significantly, their relationship began as the consequence of a question-and-answer session following a vacuous lecture on “Law and the Administered Society” that Justin Quayle agreed to deliver on behalf of a bureaucratic colleague to aspiring lawyers enrolled in a summer seminar. Pressed by the Oxford-educated Tessa to “‘imagine a situation where you personally would feel obliged to undermine the state’” (127), the emissary recently returned from Bosnia temporizes before recognizing the sincerity of her query and publicly supporting her idealistic principles. Though talking was usually “his way of putting up screens against people” (130), Justin finds himself falling in love with Tessa despite the fact that “he feared her faith because, as a fully paid-up pessimist, he knew he had none. Not in human nature, not in God, not in the future, and certainly not in the universal power of love” (133). Once drawn out by her challenging the circumlocutions, half-truths, and platitudes with which he has insulated his private self, the career diplomat begins to grow as an individual. Because these early episodes of interrogation in the novel prepare for others to follow, we might pause to consider the implications of this diegetic mode. In a lengthy article Douglas Walton, approaching the subject from the standpoint of argumentation theory, posits that interrogation can be classified as “a subspecies of information-seeking dialogue” for “some anterior purpose” (1775). As such it demonstrates a normative structure that balances the interlocutor’s search for truth against the respondent’s propensity for deception. The outcome of such interaction is, more often than not, a negotiated approximation of factually correct information. Going beyond Walton’s analysis, however, we can recognize that scenes of interrogation in fiction enact a confrontation with alterity in which the interlocutor must bridge some dialogical and ontological divide in order to arrive at a viable hermeneutic of whatever he or she seeks to know. Since reading involves a continuous process of textual interpretation, 128

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repeated vignettes of interrogation compound the wager while compelling one to discern in all the layered strata of responses some measure of veracity. This narratological dynamic aligns us with le Carré’s protagonist in The Constant Gardener, who after his wife’s death is intent on discovering the reason for her murder. The classical story of detection here morphs into something else, primarily because it mandates our correlating and crosschecking manifold representations of the circumstances surrounding Tessa’s death. Before Justin Quayle launches his quest, the novel offers several examples of the hollow discourse that has shaped his profession-bound world. One such passage comes to us through the unctuous, distinctly neurotic, voice of Gloria Woodrow, neglected wife of Nairobi’s Head of Chancery. Once she and Sandy have sequestered Justin in the ground-floor guest suite of their suburban home after news of the tragedy, le Carré mimics Gloria’s telephone conversation with her sometime friend Elena: ... but at least the poor man would have his aloneness, which everybody absolutely had to have when they lost someone, El, and Gloria herself had been exactly the same when Mummy died, but then of course Tessa and Justin did have — well, they did have an unconventional marriage, if one could call it that — though speaking for herself Gloria had never doubted there was real fondness there, at least on Justin’s side, though what there was on Tessa’s side — frankly, El darling, God alone knows, because none of us ever will [29].

Such rambling rhetoric, punctuated by false emphases, typifies what in Being and Time (1927) Martin Heidegger terms Gerede, usually translated as “idle talk” or “chatter” (see 211–14). The characteristic speech patterns of Gloria Woodrow, “famously loquacious, especially when there wasn’t much to say” (29), are sharply differentiated from the incisiveness of Tessa Quayle’s retort to Gloria’s womanizing husband when he defensively asks on behalf of British business interests in Kenya, “‘How can we help a poor country if we’re not rich ourselves?’” (43): Specious, unadulterated, pompous Foreign Office bullshit, if you want its full name, worthy of the inestimable Pellegrin himself. Look around you. Trade isn’t making the poor rich. Profits don’t buy reforms. They buy corrupt government officials and Swiss bank accounts [44].

Between these two discursive universes lies Justin’s road to an empowering freedom, though first he must resist the claims of those who would assert 129

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proprietary ownership of Tessa’s forensic records, transcripts, disks, emails, and files. Having recovered most of this material from their residence, Quayle declines bureaucratic demands for his wife’s cache of information regarding what she had succeeded in exposing about ThreeBees, Dypraxa, and pharmaceutical giant Karel Vita Hudson of Vancouver, Seattle, Basel (KVH). The three functionaries who wish to confiscate Tessa Quayle’s investigative research, under the pretense of its constituting the Foreign Office’s intellectual property, are Sandy Woodrow, Alison Landsbury, and Sir Bernard Pellegrin, all of whom pitch their cases in comparably ingenuous fashion. The most maladroit of this group is Justin’s immediate field supervisor, who summarily invokes “‘rules of confidentiality’” and “‘Pellegrin’s order’” as chain-of-command constraints (71). The next to ply him is Landsbury, Head of Personnel in London, who begins her interview with condolences reminiscent of Gloria Woodrow’s sham way of speaking : “‘We’re all so, so sad, Justin. So utterly horrified. And you’re so brave.... Are you really able to talk sensibly? I don’t see how you could ’” (170). That formality over, she soon adopts a “frigid managerial stare” and, after criticizing Tessa for “‘meddling,’” bluntly insists that their employee surrender his wife’s laptop computer (173, 175). The last to weigh in over an expensive lunch at his club following Quayle’s meeting with Landsbury is Sir Bernard. Affecting his customary “decent chap’s image” (178), Pellegrin commiserates but soon lapses into his truncated style of “High Tory telegramese” in order to secure possession of “‘so-called confidential information that you shouldn’t have — in your head or anywhere else — it belongs to us, not you’” (182, 188). From his sessions with these self-interested interlocutors, as well as from his earlier questioning by detectives, Justin has learned that European clinicians named Lorbeer, Emrich, and Kovacs were somehow associated with dispensing the drug Dypraxa to Africans and that his wife, while a patient in Nairobi’s Uhuru Hospital, had witnessed their visits to check the deterioration of a pregnant rape victim known only as Wanza. In a reversal of interrogation’s usual oneway flow of intelligence, the protagonist is emboldened to transgress officialdom’s expectations of him. In his late forties le Carré’s Eton-bred gentleman now undergoes a decisive existential change, reversing the pattern of psychological crippling 130

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found in The Tailor of Panama. As the cumulative result of his experiences since Tessa’s death, Justin, apparently for the first time, apprehends the course of his life from several overlapping but previously frozen perspectives. At the end of his lunch with Pellegrin, therefore, we are told the following: He rose weightlessly from the table and was surprised to see his own image in a great number of mirrors at the same time. He saw himself from all angles, at all ages of his life. Justin the lost child in big houses, friend of cooks and gardeners. Justin the schoolboy rugby star, Justin the professional bachelor, burying his loneliness in numbers. Justin the Foreign Office white hope and no-hoper, photographed with his friend the dracaena palm. Justin the newly widowed father of his dead and only son [188].

The sum total of these avatars, however, does not equal the man he soon will become. Once embarked on a journey “to extinguish his own identity and revive hers; to kill Justin, and bring Tessa back to life” (215), the novel’s hero stands committed to a trajectory that will culminate in genuine autonomy. Latent here is the idea that self-abnegation through an all-consuming concern for others, the antithesis of corporate self-seeking, constitutes a transformative ethic. Seven years later A Most Wanted Man will emphasize this theme even more heavily, as I shall argue, but at this juncture we should note that henceforth Justin Quayle must operate independently and covertly in order to reassert the values that guided his late wife’s life. From this point onward The Constant Gardener reprises the man-onthe-run motif of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps as Quayle, under surveillance by both the Metropolitan Police and ThreeBees hirelings, adopts the persona of Peter Paul Atkinson, supposed reporter for The Daily Telegraph, to pursue his single-minded mission. Justin appropriately starts his campaign of discovery, all the while engaged in mental dialogue with Tessa, by questioning those whom his wife most trusted. These confidants include cousin Arthur Luigi Hammond, who confirms the accuracy of her investigative research and provides an aunt’s address in Milan to which Quayle can safely remit dossier supplements; a precocious 12-year-old Albanian invalid named Guido, whose computer expertise enables Justin to retrieve a few remaining files from his wife’s sabotaged laptop; email correspondent Birgit, who works for a pharma-watch organization in north 131

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Germany; and finally friend Ghita Pearson, an Anglo-Indian junior member of Chancery, British High Commission, Nairobi. Comprising the novel’s structural center, however, is a 75-page account (Chapters 11–14) of the fugitive diplomat’s “plunge into the heart of [Tessa’s] secret world” after he has made his way incognito to a secluded villa owned by his wife’s maternal forbears on the Tuscan island of Elba (215). There Justin trawls through her press clippings, handwritten notes, electronic printouts, journal articles, official memoranda, book extracts, magazine advertisements, interview transcriptions, wire-service bulletins, and password-restricted folders, all of which the text replicates in their original typographical formats. “New landscapes of information [were] unfolding before his eyes” (253), remarks le Carré. Concomitantly, we as readers must sort through these heterogeneous primary documents and infer their larger import. That to which they point, especially in light of Tessa’s having received an anonymous death threat, is the conclusion that she had uncovered egregious ethics violations traceable to Sir Kenneth K. Curtiss, ThreeBees CEO, in distributing Dypraxa among a subpopulation of what Frantz Fanon in 1961 famously termed “the wretched of the Earth.” Earlier the narrative had described Curtiss’s conglomerate as having a “‘finger in every African pie but British to the core. Hotels, travel agencies, newspapers, security companies, banks, extractors of gold, coal and copper, importers of cars, boats and trucks.... Plus a fine range of drugs’” (102). In the wake of post–Cold War globalization, as Tod Hoffman proposes, le Carré is thus “fixing his sights” on the morally bankrupt milieu “being created by triumphant capitalism” (“Constant Writer” 99). The next stage of Justin Quayle’s moral development, one that marks his progress in self-abnegation, comes when he is savagely beaten after learning that former KVH/ThreeBees intermediary Markus Lorbeer betrayed Tessa and Dr. Arnold Bluhm. Pursuant to this event, which in his own mind means that he has “passed the exam I’ve been shirking all my life” (321), a convalescent Justin flies from Zurich to Winnipeg upon becoming “conscious of a dawning sense of his own completion.” “[H]e was resolved,” comments le Carré, and “purified” (344): He had never supposed that his search would have a good end. It had never occurred to him that there could be one. To take up Tessa’s mission — to shoulder her banner and put on her courage — was purpose enough for him. She

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This passage is pivotal to interpreting accurately the narrative’s final scene because Quayle’s awareness of his pending “completion” prevents us from construing him as a victim. We also should note that his subsequent actions are more intentional than earlier. In Saskatchewan, for example, no longer “believ[ing] in me anymore, and all I stood for” (346), Justin searchingly interrogates Dr. Lara Emrich, once a partner in KVH’s production of Dypraxa, whose reluctant revelations about ex-lover Lorbeer then direct him back to Africa. Shortly thereafter Quayle, now a renegade to the cause he once served, elicits a full confession from Sandy Woodrow about Pellegrin’s suppression of Tessa’s exposé. Despite being forewarned by Tim Donohue, MI6’s Head of Station, that “‘whatever it is you’re looking for, you won’t find it, but that won’t prevent you from getting killed’” (429), le Carré’s hero pursues his quest to its ineluctable end. Having charted how interrogation leads obliquely to discovery, The Constant Gardener recounts the last stage of Justin Quayle’s spiritual odyssey before presenting what might seem a puzzling coda. Steered as though by some unswerving symmetry toward his wife’s killing ground, and still masquerading as a journalist, the transformed diplomat compels guilt-haunted religious fanatic Lorbeer, now salving his conscience by serving pseudonymously as a famine-relief worker in Sudan, to admit his betrayal of Tessa and Bluhm. That moral victory won, Quayle then flies to Lake Turkana’s eastern shore. After reporting Woodrow’s elevation as High Commissioner in Nairobi, Pellegrin’s acceptance of a managerial post with KVH, and Curtiss’s instauration in the House of Lords, the kind of success we would expect of those wholly invested in a world of selfadvancement, le Carré tracks Justin’s voyage to Allia Bay. Geographically the site of his wife’s murder, the destination is also where the novel’s protagonist realizes the liberating force of what Heidegger termed Gelassenheit. Because the concept derives from one of the philosopher’s less well-known texts, some brief background may prove helpful. His Discourse on Thinking (1959) encompasses a “Memorial Address” delivered in 1955 and a “Conversation on a Country Path about Thinking” written in 1944–45. The former part postulates “two kinds of thinking, each justified and needed in its own way: calculative thinking and medi133

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tative thinking.” Analytical, restless, outcome-oriented, and scientific/technological, calculative thinking “never collects itself ” to contemplate “the meaning which reigns in everything that is” (46). In contrast, meditative thinking, which Heidegger associates with “rootedness” (48–49), is characterized by a willingness “not to cling one-sidedly to a single idea” and by two other traits: “releasement toward things” and an “openness to the mystery” (53, 55). The “Memorial Address” then is followed by a “Conversation” that seeks to demonstrate heuristically the emergence of a revitalized way of thinking. Couched in the form of an open-ended exchange involving a scientist, a scholar, and a teacher, this section evolves as “hermeneutical circles that are nourished by the dialogue itself. The dialogue, that is, the interplay between the interlocutors, shows the movement and counter-movement” that constitute “the experience of Gelassenheit” (Pezze). The “Conversation” thereby suggests that “releasement” proceeds only from embracing one’s temporal finitude while accepting a “non-willing” negation of self that recognizes a “higher[-]acting” agency (59, 61). This fundamentally religious tenet, which Heidegger borrowed from the Christian mystical tradition via Meister Eckhart, is related to what in Being and Time the philosopher, deploying a neologism, refers to as the orientation of “Being-towards-death” (304–11), an existential stance radically different from the bureaucratic posturing typified by Sandy and Gloria Woodrow, Alison Landsbury, and Bernard Pellegrin. By the end of The Constant Gardener Justin Quayle has arrived at this hard-won threshold of awakened self-understanding. The narrative’s closing tableau situates its hero at the exact place of his wife’s murder, a Kenyan region vulnerable to marauding Sudanese tribesmen, Ugandan/Somalian bandits, and Muslim extremists intent on wresting control of scarce natural resources. At this location, a matrix of violence for historically disenfranchised and exploited populations, Justin, now fully attuned to a “transition in his nature” (475), hears the approaching sounds of Tessa’s killers. As they come closer, their forms indistinct in the twilight, the narrator makes this observation: [A]lthough he had been expecting something of the kind ever since he had returned to Nairobi — even in a remote way wishing for it, and had therefore regarded Donohue’s warning to him as superfluous — he greeted the sight with an extraordinary sense of exultation, not to say completion [476–77].

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This ending, rather than signifying the defeatism of a passive suicide, implies that Quayle has attained the centered equipoise that accompanies initiation into the freedom of Gelassenheit. That to which he remains faithful is not only his wife’s code of values, sharply at odds with the Foreign Office’s hypocrisy, but also an “openness to the mystery,” in Heidegger’s parlance, that characterizes authentic Being. Justin’s dossier of evidence amplifying Tessa’s original findings, filed by way of Milan throughout his mission, also promises that Whitehall and Westminster may not be the final arbiters of public knowledge in this case. For le Carré, confronting a post–Cold War environment of “triumphant capitalism,” one can do much worse.

A Most Wanted Man: The Ethic of Empathy Given the Soviet Union’s collapse in December 1991, David Cornwell was obliged to reinvent his fictional landscape. After The Night Manager, which leaves behind Eastern Bloc settings altogether, two of his other novels published during the twentieth century’s last decade reveal a tentative scouting of the new Russia and its former republics. Our Game (1995), for example, concentrates largely on the personal rivalry between retired secret servant Timothy Cranmer and his former protégé Larry Pettifer, a mercurial but ironically idealistic double agent, before plunging us briefly into the warring regions of Ossetia, Ingusheitia, and Chechnya that do not trust Moscow’s forced concession of their independence. Four years later Single & Single (1999) portrayed a different backdrop. Reworking his trademark theme of father/son or generational betrayal, which looms prominently in A Perfect Spy, le Carré there explores the impact of the Russian mafia’s heroin-smuggling activities on a London venture-capital firm’s willingness to launder money. Clearly an impression of the West’s venality in profiting from the Soviet Union’s dissolution was gaining strength in the writer’s perception of contemporary events. It thus is not surprising that pursuant to the Al Qaeda attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center, which ushered in the Bush/Blair “War on Terror,” his nineteenth novel was a sweeping political diatribe against everything from Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Adolf Hitler to British India’s partition to Amer135

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ica’s backing the Shah of Iran to the Vietnam War to, finally, the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Framed as a retrospective on the 40-year-long career of Ted Mundy, “life’s eternal apprentice” (115), Absolute Friends (2003) indicts nothing less than “the multiple diseases of fascism, capitalism, militarism, consumerism, Nazism, Coca-Colonization, imperialism[,] and pseudo-democracy” (103–04). As it traces his protagonist’s intermittent involvement with the British Secret Service, East German Stasi, and Central Intelligence Agency, le Carré’s sprawling narrative often suggests an oration, not unlike Mundy’s (delivered while atop a soapbox) as a tour guide to “one of Mad King Ludwig’s castles in Bavaria” (3), in which he is ventriloquizing his manifest frustration with perpetuation of “‘the insane concept of ... permanent conflict’” (327–28). The author’s next production, The Mission Song (2006), returns us to the continent of Africa where he explores how 29year-old naïf Bruno Salvador, orphaned love-child of an Irish missionary and Congolese mother, discovers a racial conscience after serving as an expert translator at a top-secret meeting between Western financiers and East Congolese warlords. For the most part a compelling account of recovery from the effects of postcolonial hybridization, The Mission Song yet suffers narrationally from extended monologues by the three African claimants to power regarding their competing political viewpoints. Nonetheless, in chronicling Salvador’s turn to activism after learning that England’s agenda in arranging the conference is to install a puppet government and steal the region’s mineral wealth, le Carré again is projecting a scenario that pits old-fashioned individualism against indefensible enterprises that dignify themselves as acceptable corporate policies. In A Most Wanted Man one such practice is “extraordinary rendition” as permitted by former U.S. President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11. Redacting a theme from his earliest fiction, le Carré questions whether the West, now defending itself against the threat of terrorist assault, has not sacrificed its moral “high ground” by adopting spycraft’s regnant ethic of expediency.8 Significantly, however, the CIA’s secret abduction and internment of suspected terrorists does not become a focus until A Most Wanted Man’s final pages. Most of the novel instead examines how we respond to the stigmatized “Other” given today’s climate of rampant mistrust. When an emaciated, obviously destitute, young man of Russian 136

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or Chechen descent appears out of nowhere on the doorstep of Leyla and Melik Oktay, Turkish residents in Hamburg where the widowed mother and her son are seeking German citizenship, the vagrant declares himself to be a Muslim medical student who wishes to stay in their house. Pitying the mysterious stranger, despite Melik’s initial reaction of “uncharitable aversion” (4), Leyla promptly offers him asylum. The Oktays’ unexpected guest, from whose bracelet dangles a gold miniature of the Koran, turns out to be Issa — the Islamic form of Jesus. Subsequently we learn that this refugee, who has escaped torture in a Turkish prison and incarceration in Sweden en route to Hamburg, is the illegitimate son of Colonel Grigori Borisovich Karpov in the Red Army, though disavowing his father’s crimes he identifies himself as Issa Salim Mahmoud. Like his Christian namesake, Issa figures as the “holy fool,” but he also is the pariah who asserts his claim for human empathy based upon the injustices he has endured. Two other characters, both privileged Westerners, soon become involved in this petitioner’s plight, though for reasons that have much to do with a rejection of their own paternal heritages. The first is Annabel Richter, a young lawyer who works for a nonprofit immigrant-support organization called Sanctuary North. Not unlike Tessa Quayle in le Carré’s 2001 novel, Richter is motivated by a concern for exploited and stateless people in large measure because her father was a diplomat who preached the standard juridical doctrine of controlling feelings in the interest of serving an abstraction (see 121). Rebelling against this dictum, and remorseful for allowing a previous client named Magomed to be deported, Annabel takes up the case of Issa without regard for her own welfare. The second character drawn into the equation is 60-yearold Tommy Brue, sole legatee of “the private banking house of Brue Frères PLC, formerly of Glasgow, Rio de Janeiro and Vienna, and presently of Hamburg” (18), who has discovered seven years after the firm’s relocation that his esteemed father, Edward Amadeus Brue, had laundered, at the British Intelligence Service’s behest, over $12.5 million in deposits under a sub rosa “Lipizzaner” account in order to ingratiate himself for award of an O.B.E. Divorced from first wife Sue, by whom he sired a rebellious daughter who reminds him of Annabel Richter, the private banker is marking time in another failed marriage while suddenly realizing the extent of his progenitor’s compliance with MI6 in accommodating an illegal scheme 137

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on behalf of ex–Communist opportunists. Equally haunted by their familial patriarchs, both characters become the unlikely rescuers of Issa. The process whereby this partnership evolves is initially halting. For her part Annabel Richter, having been exposed to the predicament of the world’s displaced, harbors stereotyped preconceptions about such financial officers as Tommy Brue, construing him as a dyed-in-the-wool and purely mercenary capitalist. Her counterpart, meanwhile, at first perceives Richter as a would-be blackmailer intent on impugning his firm’s established reputation. Only after such mutual defenses break down, pursuant to these characters’ rhetorical jousting before a face-to-face meeting with Issa, are both able to surmount their differences and realize a common humanitarian value — namely, the needs of a proscribed and officially branded outsider. As this dynamic unfolds, Brue unexpectedly drafts a ⇔ 50,000 personal check for Issa’s temporary protection. The banker’s magnanimity persuades formerly skeptical Annabel Richter that their value systems regarding the “seraphic unreality” of “a destroyed child” may actually coincide (73). From this point onward the two advocates join forces, though not before the power base of German espiocracy has already condemned Issa as a suspected terrorist. Juxtaposed with this fragile moral drama are the machinations and internecine feuds of the West’s post–9/11 espionage “community.” Given the fact that three of the Twin Towers jihadists, led by Mohammed Atta, “had worshiped [their] wrathful god in a humble Hamburg mosque” (3), Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, its domestic intelligence service, is keenly sensitive to any accusations of ineptitude or lack of due vigilance. Under Berlin’s direction it accordingly has restructured itself with an eye toward consensual decision-making. The only problem, of course, is that, despite declared objectives of improved efficiency, the Joint Steering Committee —“a house bitterly divided against itself ”— is dominated by two ideologically disparate sharers of power. “In the leftist corner,” writes le Carré, “if such antiquated distinctions still counted for anything, presided the urbane Michael Axelrod of Foreign Intelligence”; and, “in the rightist corner, the archconservative Dieter Burgdorf from the Ministry of the Interior, Axelrod’s rival to fill the post of intelligence czar once the foundations of the new structure had been laid” (99). Within the framework of this unstable and reorganized bureaucracy, Günther 138

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Bachmann, arguably the most colorful character in A Most Wanted Man, must orchestrate plans to deploy Issa, all the while guaranteeing his personal safety, as bait for compelling a high-profile Islamic scholar named Dr. Faisal Abdullah, currently living in Germany, to cooperate with Western authorities by betraying militant groups abroad to which the charities he oversees funnel funds from time to time. Narratologically, then, the novel presents us with four discursive spheres, which we can think of as concentric circles. At the heart of this schematic is Issa, whose frequently repeated pronouncements that “God is all-merciful” and “will provide” seem a glowing testimony to his Islamic faith, yet Melik Oktay’s observation that the 23-year-old Chechen does not think or act like a Muslim gives readers pause (71). We also are led to question whether Issa may not be in part unhinged when we see him, sequestered in Annabel Richter’s harbor-front loft apartment, flying paper airplanes from the top of a stepladder. Furthermore, the refugee, about whose past we know little for certain, is prone to chauvinistic delusions regarding his female protector. “‘Maybe you will convert to Islam,’” he says to Annabel more than once, “‘and I will marry you and attend to your education. That will be a good solution for both of us’” (131). In short, we cannot be absolutely sure of Issa’s innocence, and nowhere does le Carré intervene to dispel the mystery concerning him. As such this “most wanted man” figures as a conundrum, not unlike accidental victim Stevie in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent who distracts himself by tracing “coruscations of innumerable circles suggesting chaos and eternity.” Readers thus are forced to grapple with an irreducible enigma, as are Richter and Brue, though in coming to Issa’s aid they both suspend such considerations and commit themselves unreservedly to the ethic of empathy. Their intervention on behalf of this puzzling “Other” constitutes the narrative’s second concentric circle, but surrounding it are two other spheres whose homage, though separated by a thin margin of difference, is to the countermanding ethic of expediency. The first is that of gruff, volatile, and charismatic Bachmann, a veteran agent-runner reminiscent of Leonard Burr in The Night Manager, who still believes that the contemporary world’s safety is congruent with previously established lines of political and cultural demarcation. Now remanded in his mid-forties to the Hamburg station’s downgraded Foreign Acquisitions Unit, where he 139

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is under the direction of bumbling Arnold Mohr, the seasoned interrogator must navigate a political tightrope while seeking to delay Operation Felix, Mohr’s campaign to apprehend Issa Karpov, for his own purposes of recruiting Dr. Abdullah as an informant. Trumping Bachmann’s plane of operational initiative, however, are the covert commitments of “‘Dr. Otto Keller, the most protective of all protectors’” (97), who is intent on redeeming Germany’s reputation for security against international terrorists by complying with CIA countermeasures. Thus, when Keller permits American “managers of the post–9/11 boom market in intelligence and allied trades” to attend a Joint Steering Committee summit regarding a perceived Muslim threat, the outermost circle of discursive connivance — represented by “truth[-]benders, ideologues[,] and politopaths who ruin the earth” (236)— preempts all those encompassed within its controlling orbit. The way in which le Carré indicates the chasm between the second circle’s dynamic of empathy and the fourth circle’s doctrine of expediency is striking. Both Annabel Richter and Tommy Brue, as previously mentioned, are able to set aside their cultural blinders and respond to Issa’s purely human plight despite lingering questions about his ambiguous past. For private fiduciary Brue, who initially suspects the refugee of being a trickster, such empathic caritas comes more slowly than for Sanctuary North advocate Richter, accustomed as she is to cases of foreign nationals’ predicaments, but he soon finds himself “going over to her side” (85). Shortly thereafter le Carré writes: But here, out of the blue, either his good heart became too much for him, or he just forgot for a moment that he was a hard-headed banker born and bred. An eerie sensation swept over him that someone else — someone real, someone prepared to embrace spontaneous humanity rather than treat it as a threat to sound financial management — had commandeered him... [90].

Brue’s openness to compassion for the stigmatized alien, whatever Issa’s background might be, sets him worlds apart from Dr. Keller, whose sole allegiance is to the mandate of bureaucratic advantage. When the latter convenes a strategic planning session in Hamburg, therefore, it is unsurprising that he has invited a bevy of CIA functionaries —“majestic Martha, the Agency’s formidable number two in Berlin”; “six-foot-something Newton, alias Newt, one[-]time deputy chief of operations at the U.S. embassy in Beirut”; and an unidentified “hatchet-faced ash-blonde” 140

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(237, 320)— as supposedly neutral observers. What later we discover is that all three American “Cousins” have been permitted attendance in order to subvert Günther Bachmann’s strategy for “turning” Dr. Faisal Abdullah as an informant because they are obsessed with arresting Issa Karpov as a suspected Islamic sympathizer. Political expediency, in this scenario, not only usurps the moral imperative of empathy but also signals the extent to which the practice of “extraordinary rendition” has scuttled traditional Western values. Moreover, the coarse rhetoric in terms of which such an illegal policy is defended within the novel betrays its hollowness. The climax of A Most Wanted Man drills home this point. Posted outside Brue Frères PLC, where the protagonist has arranged for Issa and Dr. Abdullah to meet after business hours for transferring the fugitive’s inheritance to Muslim charities, Bachmann anxiously awaits last-minute approval from Berlin to proceed with his plan dubbed Operation Signpost when he realizes from a subtly worded message that his mentor, Michael Axelrod, has been outmaneuvered by Dieter Burgdorf on the Joint Steering Committee. Disobeying official orders to the contrary, the independently minded field agent approaches the bank, only to have his vehicle rammed by CIA operatives who abduct both Issa and Abdullah. In the collision’s aftershock an injured Bachmann then has this exchange with his former Beirut counterpart: “Where have you taken him?” Bachmann asked. “Abdullah? Who gives a shit? Some hole in the desert, for all I know. Justice has been rendered, man. We can all go home....” “Rendered?” he repeated stupidly. “What’s rendered? What justice are you talking about?” “American justice, asshole. Whose do you think? Justice from the fucking hip, man. No-crap justice, that kind of justice! Justice with no fucking lawyers around to pervert the course. Have you never heard of extraordinary rendition[?] No? Time you Krauts had a word for it! Have you given up speaking or what?” But still nothing came out of Bachmann, so Newton went on: “Eye for a fucking eye, Günther. Justice as retribution, okay? Abdullah was killing Americans. We call that original sin. You want to play softball spy games? Go find yourself some Euro-pygmies.” “I was asking you about Issa,” Bachmann said [321–22].

Obviously projecting disdain for President George W. Bush’s “Old West” mentality in terms of his declared “War on Terror,” the passage excoriates Germany’s capitulation to an ascendant way of thinking that equates justice 141

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with retribution. Lost in this tidal wave of reaction to the events of 9/11 is any allowance for the Judeo-Christian mandate of compassion for the “Other.” Because improbable hero Tommy Brue embraces this principle when everything else militates against it, le Carré casts him, in a quite different sense than mysterious petitioner Issa Karpov, as a “most wanted man.” At the same time, we should note, that which mediates Brue’s response is a sharpened awareness of his misspent career and failures in life, as he discovers through the example of Annabel Richter’s selfless activism. For this reason he parallels Justin Quayle in The Constant Gardener. Thanks to her intrusion into his complacency, the 60-year-old Scot becomes haunted by “messy loose ends that our fathers left lying about” while also recognizing that his own history as a father and husband has been a shambles (160). Midway through the narrative its protagonist thus arrives at an insight that aligns him with many of Graham Greene’s spiritual wayfarers: Now at last he was able to understand himself. He had mistaken his need. He had invested himself in the wrong market.... And now he had found this, which was an important and rather astonishing clarification of his nature for him.... The issue was this, and this was Annabel. ... [H]e had consciously and deliberately entered her danger zone, which he now shared with her. And in consequence, his life had become vivid and precious to him, for which he thanked her from the heart [161].

Having already been blackmailed by two British Intelligence spooks named Foreman and Lantern, the former of whom during the Cold War’s final phase had persuaded Edward Amadeus Brue to set up fraudulent “Lipizzaner” accounts for the convenience of well-heeled Russian defectors, the son exempts himself from further filial subservience by liquidating Issa Karpov’s claim on his patriarchal inheritance. This convergence of backgrounds, otherwise so dissimilar, paves the way for Tommy Brue’s ratification of empathy’s power to transcend, if not annul, the legacy of international espionage and its ethic of expediency. In the process he not only outwits would-be controller Ian Lantern but also, acknowledging that his father had compromised the firm’s integrity a decade earlier, ensures Annabel Richter’s immunity from prosecution for aiding and abetting a supposed enemy of the State. 142

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A Most Wanted Man thus reworks le Carré’s major theme throughout his illustrious career: the moral challenges faced by the honorable but embattled individual when enmeshed in the labyrinths of deception, whether such trials of conscience arise directly from involvement with national intelligence networks or indirectly from the generational legacy they bequeath. In this regard David Cornwell’s post–Cold War narratives represent a continued exploration of earlier concerns, notwithstanding the shift in geopolitics since his portrayal of Alec Leamas in The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. Still undecided, as he views it, are the prospects for success of the vir bonus in ultimately prevailing against the entrenched forces of ideological alignment. Le Carré nonetheless sides with the person who can lay claim to a new beginning regardless of past compromises. Aging Tommy Brue, for example, having come to terms with both his father’s and his own mistaken choices in life, invites Annabel Richter to meet his previously estranged daughter Georgina in California, mythically the land of perpetual promise, to celebrate the arrival of a first grandchild. This scenario suggests the redemptive dimension of romance, perhaps just as equivocally as what we find at the end of Our Man in Havana, yet le Carré is no slave to the expectations associated with specific genres. When all is said and done, it bears emphasizing, Issa Karpov and Dr. Faisal Abdullah have been shipped off to an indeterminate location, where they undoubtedly will be subjected to torture, and the juridical mockery of “extraordinary rendition” remains firmly in place. This seemingly unbridgeable gap between the spheres of personal integrity and political polity underscores the novelist’s stark vision of a world in which the morally responsible individual is reduced finally to seeking sanctuary elsewhere. Such a duality perhaps can be explained in light of David Monaghan’s insights. Writing in 1985, this critic noted the high incidence of le Carré’s allusions to antecedent texts representing two branches of the literary tradition that he has wholly embraced and largely dominated. On the basis of pervasive patterns of intertextuality, Monaghan advanced the following observation: “Le Carré’s novels are characterized by a double vision which is apparently created out of a combination of elements from the satirical and realistic espionage fiction of Conrad and Greene and the mythopoeic popular spy thrillers of writers such as Le Queux and Buchan” (77–78). A “double vision” implies that David Cornwell is intent on demonstrating 143

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how the genre “can be made into a form sufficiently flexible to accommodate simultaneously a rigorous critique of modern society and the creation of an ideal mythic framework” (122). Although some may wish to qualify Monaghan’s case, it does comport with le Carré’s dismissal of the question about what distinguishes a “thriller” from canonically “serious” fiction.9 It has the further merit of acknowledging that postmodern writers generally are not constrained by academic distinctions of this kind. While bringing this chapter to a close on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, I am awaiting le Carré’s forthcoming Our Kind of Traitor (2010). According to its pre-publication fanfare, the author’s twenty-second novel is set in recession-gripped Britain where an Oxford lecturer and his girlfriend, after meeting a Russian millionaire named Dima while vacationing in Antigua, are propelled into a murky European underworld that happens to be instrumental in SIS’s global initiatives. The synopsis suggests that David Cornwell again will be examining the moral conundrums of innocent bystanders caught up in the snares of worldwide espiocracy. This master plot harks back to Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands and John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, but what has changed is the obliquity by which such crises of moral allegiance are narrated. Given modernism’s interest in the vagaries of individual consciousness and the subsequent critique of a transcendental subjectivity, le Carré’s artistic orientation is understandable. On the one hand, he celebrates the beleagured autonomy of the liberal-humanist “individual”; on the other hand, he acknowledges the overwhelming corruptions of all those ideological forces arrayed against it. The upshot is usually a stalemate, though that outcome does not deter him from exalting the foundational value of basic human decency. Riding the crest of espionage fiction’s then widespread popularity, Bruce Merry in 1977 asserted that the spy thriller was “a form of readable evasion” (5). He then commented on John le Carré’s incongruity as a practitioner within this supposedly borderline genre. In comparison with Len Deighton, maintained Merry, le Carré “operates self-consciously on the high-brow side of ‘literariness’” while attempting to write the “‘Great Novel’” (214). At the heart of this assessment stands a twofold presupposition about not only espionage’s respectability as a defining framework for “serious” fiction ( Jacques Barzun’s “Meditations on the Literature of Spying” casts a long shadow in this regard) but also the still vexed issue of 144

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canonicity. Recently Wai Chee Dimock, in her introduction to a special issue of PMLA, has reminded us that “genres have ... ontologized names. What these names designate, though, is not taxonomic classes of equal solidity but fields at once emerging and ephemeral, defined over and over again by new entries that are still being produced” (1379). By virtue of his prolific post–Cold War narratives, John le Carré challenges us to leave behind the hermeticism of outdated literary formulas while also expanding our conception of espionage fiction’s adaptability for addressing enduringly human issues in the twenty-first century.

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5

Stella Rimington’s Feminist Espionage Fiction Toward the end of Len Deighton’s An Expensive Place to Die, veteran British spy Martin Langley Byrd explains why he was obligated to kill a fellow undercover operative named Annie Couzins, who had infiltrated Monsieur Datt’s bizarre Clinique de Paradis used for blackmailing foreign dignitaries in Paris: She was vulnerable to men. Jean Paul had her eating out of his hand. That’s why they aren’t suited to this sort of work, bless them. Men were deceivers ever, eh? Gals get themselves involved, what? Still, who are we to complain about that? Wouldn’t want them any other way myself [206].

Byrd’s crudely sexist rationale entails an inversion of the Mata Hari stereotype of female agents, but behind it lies a strange pathology. Women are dangerous and threatening because “vulnerable to men,” who are “deceivers ever,” yet Couzins’ assassin “wouldn’t want them any other way.”1 This example goes a long way toward addressing the generally subordinate, often incidental, and not infrequently victimized role of women in espionage fiction. In this regard the chorus of male denunciation that greeted Stella Rimington’s decision to publish Open Secret (2001), her memoir as Director General of MI5 from 1992 to 1996, is instructive. A small sampling may suffice. For over a year before the volume’s release the prevailing sentiment was one of shocked dismay tinged, on occasion, with transparent gender bias. In The Evening Standard of 17 May 2000, for example, Tom Bower wrote, “Vanity, an unhealthy dose of self-importance[,] and possibly the loneliness of a single woman appears [sic] to have persuaded Stella Rimington to once again abandon the shadows and throw herself into the limelight.” The next day an unsigned feature in The Times, echoing the 146

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imputation of vanity, charged her with “betrayal of the trust she established within MI5 and beyond” (“Breach”). The last point was not altogether unfounded. Rimington’s manuscript, which originally bore the lackluster title A Life of Surprises, did technically contravene the United Kingdom’s 1989 update of the Official Secrets Act forbidding officers of security and intelligence agencies from breaking the code of silence. The irony here is that revision of the Act, which dates back to 1911, was prompted in large measure by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s unsuccessful effort to suppress Spycatcher (1987), Peter Wright’s disgruntled exposé as MI5’s former Assistant Director. That circumstance, however, did not deter some newspaper editors from registering unqualified disapproval of Dame Stella’s commitment to proceeding with publication of her memoir. The Daily Telegraph of 27 December 2000 thus bannered a letter, which anticipated that the Whitehall-censored version of Open Secret was “likely to prove a disappointingly anodyne read,” with the tag of “Reckless Rimington.” Reaction after the autobiography appeared on 8 September 2001 changed course but not intensity. Fueled, no doubt, by rumors that the first-time author had received £100,000 from The Guardian for serialization and another £500,000 from Random House for book rights, columnists excoriated her for hypocrisy as well as banality. Both indictments, despite their harshness, had some factual support. By all accounts Rimington did periodically remind her employees that they were not to violate the Official Secrets Act, even though on the eve of her book’s publication she advocated revamping the proscription. This move was widely construed as a ploy for enhancing her retirement income, which already included a pension for 27 years of service, sizeable lecture fees, and annual emolument as a nonexecutive director of Marks & Spencer. In many ways, however, the second criticism is of greater interest. Like many an authorized “life,” Open Secret tends to be rather innocuous. Having passed through two filters, first Rimington’s selective memory and then governmental review, what survives, opined Mark Urban, is a humdrum narrative of “unremitting banality” in which, among other things, the fledgling writer recounts her pleasure in archival work at the Worcestershire County Record Office and in “the orderly collection of information” upon joining the Security Service (91). Compounding the book’s blandness of content, its prose is often pedestrian. Bryan Appleyard in The Sunday Times of 23 September 2001 thus 147

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chastised Rimington severely for such infelicities as her comment, apropos of a trip to meet KGB representatives in Moscow, “In the gaps between our meetings, we sightsaw in temperatures colder than I had experienced” (237). On the same day Andrew Roberts, comparing her text to George and Weedon Grossmith’s The Diary of a Nobody (1892), scathingly pilloried it as “one of the most unintentionally comic masterpieces of the decade.” Given this outpouring of antipathy by her countrymen, one wonders whether Rimington regrets that her career ever became an “open secret” or that she chose to describe it that way (256). One also wonders whether before issuing Open Secret she was aware of four other contexts in which that phrase surfaces. At the risk of pedantry, Ambler’s A Coffin for Dimitrios deploys the oxymoron in reference to his eponymous criminal’s stratagem for engineering a coup d’état in Bulgaria (81), Deighton’s Spy Story in reference to Conservative Member of Parliament Ben Toliver’s being a member of the Communist Party during the mid–1940s (100), and le Carré’s The Secret Pilgrim as well as The Constant Gardener in reference to, respectively, Ann Smiley’s infidelity to her husband George (2–3) and the media’s postmortem report on Justin Quayle’s supposed “loss of mental balance” (464). To what extent, then, is Rimington’s avowedly feminist agenda already steeped, if only by the accident of her autobiography’s title, in the androcentric history of British espionage fiction? More intriguingly, how does her feminism play out in the five spy thrillers that Rimington has published in quick succession after her controversial memoir?

At Risk: “‘Their Best Man Is a Woman’” Virtually any roster of major British contributors to this popular mode indicates that it is a gender-imbalanced preserve. Apart from Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (1948),2 which is heavily influenced by Virginia Woolf, the sole female practitioner of note is Scottish-American author Helen MacInnes, yet her 21 novels, a mixture of adventure and suspense with an espionage dimension, appeared only after her migration to the United States in 1937. The reasons for this lopsidedness in authorship are undoubtedly legion. We can begin to address the above questions, though, by acknowledging Rimington’s self-declared objective in writing 148

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her ongoing series featuring Liz Carlyle. In a piece for The Toronto Star of 17 May 2008, Rimington asserted, rightly in my judgment, that Fleming’s parodic books “lie outside the true spy-novel genre. His work has none of the subtlety of writers such as John le Carré or Graham Greene, who hold up the uncertainties and ambiguities of real spying as a dark mirror to our ordinary world” (“Bond”). From this statement it seems legitimate to infer that Dame Stella regards herself as seeking to emulate the “subtlety” of le Carré and Greene in exploring the corridors of deceit within a geopolitical milieu given to systemic mistrust, suspicion, and betrayal. What exactly, then, does she claim about her espionage narratives to date? “My personal response,” Rimington says, “has been to create, in my own series of novels, the antithesis of James Bond: Liz Carlyle, a female MI5 officer, who uses her intellect, intuition[,] and professional skills to defeat today’s formidable security threats” (“Bond”). Unless I am misreading, between the two comments lurks a curious non sequitur. If Fleming’s 14 potboilers “lie outside the true spy-novel genre,” cannot the same be said of her own post-memoir novels that, as Rimington concedes, are meant through their heroine Liz Carlyle to present “the antithesis of James Bond”? In short, does her feminist contestation of Fleming’s Bond cycle allow her to investigate the kind of moral quandaries we associate with le Carré and Greene? Certainly At Risk (2004), Rimington’s debut novel, contains ample evidence that she composed the narrative with Fleming in mind. The most obvious sign of such intertextual modeling is Bruno Mackay, Liz Carlyle’s MI6 foil, who has recently returned from Islamabad where he served as Deputy Head of Station. “Tanned and grey-eyed, his flannel suit murmuring unmistakably of Savile Row, he cut a glamorous figure,” writes Rimington (13). Suave, glib, aggressively libidinal, and Cambridge-educated (he speaks fluent Arabic), “a perfect specimen of the Vauxhall Cross genus” (55), Mackay is profiled by the same kind of commodity “branding” that Fleming so famously used when staging Agent 007. We learn, for example, that Bruno once owned a teal-blue MG Midget but now flouts traffic laws in a silver BMW, that he wears an expensive Breitling Navitimer watch, and that he favors single-malt Talisker Scotch. The womanizing Mackay, in other words, is a latter-day James Bond. Explicit allusions confirm this connection, as when Rimington has Bruno admit to Liz that he’s “‘always had a Moneypenny complex’” (59). Fleming’s imprint on At Risk further 149

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materializes when the affable Dave Armstrong, whose desk adjoins Carlyle’s at Thames House, suggests with respect to Mackay that she “‘Kick him in the ankle with [her] pointy shoes, Rosa Klebb-style’” (31). That being Rimington’s way of inscribing her heroine’s male antithesis, how does she limn 34-year-old Liz Carlyle? Given her declaration in The Toronto Star, one deduces that the author wished to counter Fleming’s mode of characterization, but in order to do so she is constrained initially to follow in his footsteps. Carlyle’s clothing thus figures prominently in the novel’s opening chapter. While delayed on the train en route to MI5 headquarters, Liz is described as wearing “plum-coloured shoes” with “kitten heels,” a scarlet Dior scarf, and Vol de Nuit perfume, the last item purchased by her married lover Mark Callendar on the Champs-Élysées, because she “still resisted being submerged by the gravity and secrecy of work at Thames House” (4). Even though later Carlyle happens to be attired in a “Ronit Zilkha dress” when Mackay takes her to a restaurant for lunch, we are assured that she resorts to such finery only occasionally when her usual wardrobe is “either damp from the washing machine or languishing in the dry cleaning pile” (53). And, rather than a flashy BMW, Liz drives a secondhand Audi Quattro with a broken CD player. Clearly the larger impression readers are expected to form of Rimington’s protagonist, however, is that since graduating from an unspecified university she has progressed quickly through the Security Service’s ranks to counterterrorism because of natural aptitude and career commitment, all the while dealing with her mother’s “well-intentioned homily about Meeting Someone Nice” and half a dozen affairs involving “ultimately disposable” men whose emotional needs threatened to encroach on her independence (7, 177). After these preliminary sketches At Risk emphasizes Liz Carlyle’s keen “intellect, intuition[,] and professional skills” as she and a coalition of England’s defense personnel seek to prevent a security debacle. Tipped off by Sohail Din, a young Pakistani agent whom Liz is “running,” MI5 has learned that the Islamic Terror Syndicate —“the generic title for groups like Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the myriad others like them” (13)— is about to send an “invisible” into the country.3 To identify that person requires onomastic presence of mind on Carlyle’s part, specifically her realization that, among hundreds of passengers listed on a Paris-to150

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London train’s manifest, “Jean D’Aubigny” can signify either a French man or an English woman. This dimension of the text has led one reviewer to assert that “At Risk stakes out no new territory in the espionage genre” because “its form owes more to the detective procedurals of P. D. James than to the moral dilemmas of John le Carré” (Hoffman, “Former”). Be that as it may, the word favored by Rimington six times in the novel to capture her protagonist’s professionalism is “instinct,” which suggests an intuitional gyroscope that guides Liz Carlyle in grappling with the situation at hand. In attributing this trait to her main character, Rimington opens herself to a charge of reverse gender stereotyping. Though Carlyle may have “an instinctive understanding of the dynamics of agent-running” (69), her general prescience sometimes strains credulity. As the imminent attack on England begins to gather momentum, for example, the following paragraph thrums the chords of melodrama: Every instinct that Liz possessed — every sensibility that she had fine-tuned in a decade of security intelligence work — whispered to her of threat. Pressed, she would have had difficulty in defining these feelings, which related to the way that particles of information combined and took shape in her subconscious. She had, however, learned to trust them. Learned that certain configurations — however fractured, however dimly seen — were invariably malign [95].

Also interesting is the disclosure that Jean D’Aubigny, the disaffected British “invisible” who has converted to Islamic fundamentalism and hardened herself in “the fierce joy of self-nullification” at a mujahedin training camp (99), is said to possess the same “batlike sexual sonar” that enables her to detect, almost mystically, “an implacable pursuing figure” (16, 323). Thus, when Faraj Mansoor, the aggrieved Afghan whom D’Aubigny is aiding to strike a target in Norfolk, defies Jean’s cautions by saying, “‘Let them send their best man. They won’t stop us,’” she responds: “‘Their best man is a woman.... They’ve sent a woman. I can feel her shadow’” (332). This telepathic bond between the hunter and her quarry is potentially intriguing because earlier, while reflecting on her liaison with Mark Callendar, Liz had mused on whether she might not be “an agent of destruction, a home-wrecker, a femme fatale” (149). The psychology of such doubling and reversal, however, goes undeveloped. The reason for this limitation is simply that Rimington never ques151

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tions her protagonist or renders her vulnerable to any conflict of divided loyalties. Unlike Alec Leamas in The Spy Who Came In from the Cold or Maurice Castle in The Human Factor, Liz Carlyle remains two-dimensional because she is not forced to wrestle with any moral complexities involving her allegiances. Instead, she has an indefatigable conviction of being “the right person in the right job,” one who finds fulfillment in “the fierce, close-focused engagement of the chase” (177). Carlyle, as a result, comes across as a juggernaut intent on stopping terrorism wherever it rears its head in a world neatly bifurcated along ideological lines. This kind of reductive characterization contributes to Emily Stokes’s critique, in a review of Rimington’s sequel to At Risk: “Liz Carlyle is a pretty, single, bright MI5 agent with no personality traits worth mentioning.” Despite Carlyle’s formidable powers of deduction, the novel’s raceagainst-time outcome is reached largely through a concatenation of accidents too numerous to mention. Mansoor and D’Aubigny, we discover, are planning to bomb not Colonel Clyde Greeley’s heavily guarded U.S. Air Force base but rather the house of his British counterpart, RAF Commander Colin Delves, some 13 miles away. Given that Mansoor’s motive is revenge for one of Greeley’s AC-130 gunship’s having killed his fiancée and other family members in an unprovoked attack near the PakistanAfghanistan border, the targeting of Delves is puzzling. Calamity is averted in any event when Jean D’Aubigny, carrying the C4 explosive in her rucksack, has an epiphany: “It wasn’t a question of rationalization — she simply wasn’t going to do it. She had been cut loose from the need to obey anyone, or any creed, ever again” (383–84). In what ensues his female accomplice dies when Faraj Mansoor, assuming that the device has been planted in the Delves residence, detonates it by remote control, after which he is essentially executed by SAS forces. The novel’s coda factors in an element of duplicity and betrayal by revealing that Mansoor had once been a British agent under Bruno Mackay’s supervision in Central Asia. The underlying motif, though, of threats to the domestic sphere, including Liz Carlyle’s questioning whether she might be “an agent of destruction, a homewrecker, a femme fatale,” has a valence that At Risk declines to explore. Rimington overrides that latent element by stressing the sincerity of Liz’s attraction to Charles Wetherby, the 45-year-old Director of MI5’s Counter-Terrorism Section under whom she serves. Although not guilty 152

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of sabotaging the marriage of her current lover (she, in fact, puts an end to the affair), Carlyle is shown as susceptible to Wetherby’s “old-fashioned chivalry” (283). Neither officious nor pompous like his divorced MI6 counterpart Geoffrey Fane, who later in Rimington’s series finds himself drawn to Liz, Charles is wholly devoted to his wife Joanne, only a year older than Carlyle, and their two sons. Mrs. Wetherby, however, is dying from red-blood-cell aplasia, a disease that requires monthly transfusions. It is not difficult to see where this scenario is heading, especially when the novel ends with her boss bringing flowers — oddly, given his conservative tastes, “a rather lurid spray of semitropical blooms” (392)— to Liz’s hospital room where she is recovering from trauma suffered during the narrative’s climax. Not too subtly, then, At Risk is fundamentally a romance dressed in the trappings of a spy novel. A twofold irony adds to this assessment of Rimington’s inaugural foray into fiction. In a one-paragraph “Acknowledgements” section appended almost as though it were an epilogue to the main narrative, she makes the following admission: I have dreamed for years of writing a thriller and have had the main character, Liz, in my mind all that time. She has changed and developed as the years have gone by and as I have changed. She is obviously in large part autobiographical[,] but she also draws on a number of other female intelligence officers I have met during my professional career [399].

In light of Rimington’s having separated from her husband in 1984 and raised two daughters as a single parent while at the helm of MI5, the adverb “obviously” seems a bit disingenuous. Perhaps a more accurate way of understanding this avowal is to suggest that At Risk is a projected fantasy of Rimington’s experience as she imagines it might have been prior to her assuming maternal responsibilities. Here arises, though, another metatextual irony and complication. “Huge thanks are also due,” she says, “to Luke Jennings whose help with the research and the writing made it all happen.” “In the business,” asserted Patrick Anderson in The Washington Post, “this is a clear indication that Jennings did most, if not all, of the writing.” Jennings, it should be noted, is the author of three well received novels —Breach Candy (1993), Atlantic (1995), and Beauty Story (1998)— and as a journalist reviews dance for The Observer as well as The Guardian. Because the latter newspaper secured Rimington’s consent to serialization 153

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rights for Open Secret, it is a fair guess that it also arranged Jennings’ collaboration with her on At Risk. Without further evidence, which seems unlikely to be forthcoming, we thus cannot know for certain whether the novel represents a woman’s fictional perspective on espionage or a man’s reconstruction thereof.

Secret Asset: Cambridge Spies Redux Secret Asset (2006) picks up where At Risk leaves off but is closer to le Carré and Greene in focus because Rimington now allows herself the latitude of exploring duplicity within the intelligence community. After four months of convalescent leave, Liz Carlyle rejoins “the sharp end of operations,” only to find soon afterwards that Charles Wetherby wishes to shift her to a supplementary undercover assignment in counter-espionage (5). Shortly before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in Belfast on 10 April 1998, he has learned, the Provisional Irish Republican Army succeeded in planting a “secret asset,” or mole, within the ranks of MI5 (31). Even though the peace accord prevented this individual from being activated, Wetherby is anxious to avoid the “prospect of another [Guy] Burgess and [Donald] Maclean, or, worst of all, [Kim] Philby or [Anthony] Blunt, exploding all over the tabloids’ front pages” (33). Rimington’s mention of these infamous double agents, all members of the Cambridge spy-ring exposed during the 1950s and 1960s, establishes a connection to le Carré’s oeuvre in particular. Liz Carlyle’s task is to ferret out which of her colleagues who recently attended Oxford University is the traitor. A week later, having begun her investigation concerning the mole, she discovers that her counter-terrorist informant Sohail Din, for whom she feels an “almost maternal” concern, has been murdered after leaving the Islamic bookshop where he worked (15). Carlyle eventually will realize that a linkage exists between the two areas in which she has been involved. Rimington’s second novel approximates le Carré and Greene’s “subtlety” not simply by dramatizing the act of betrayal (hosts of espionage writers, after all, have done as much) but also by accounting for the personal motivations that might lead one to put something else before duty to cause or country. Le Carré’s A Perfect Spy probes the psychological forces at work 154

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in one such case. Magnus Pym travels down the road to becoming a double agent primarily because his con-man father had instilled the lesson that deception and devotion are not inconsistent. Greene’s The Human Factor provides an equally penetrating study of compromised loyalties. Indebted to a Communist operative for having facilitated his wife’s escape from apartheid South Africa years earlier, Maurice Castle routinely relays classified information to the Russians. The cardinal difference, though, is that, whereas Rimington’s predecessors treat these moral issues sympathetically, suggesting that they are symptomatic of a larger cultural malaise, she ultimately marginalizes them. Tom Dartmouth, the mole in Secret Asset, is portrayed, much like Pym and Castle, as incapable of belief in any doctrine or ideology. What drives him instead is a consuming desire for vengeance against the “dark heart of the Establishment,” an undifferentiated abstraction that includes “Oxford, Cambridge, the Foreign Office[,] and the intelligence services,” which he mistakenly holds responsible for having “ruined his father” (327). Disgraced when three articles he had written on alleged British atrocities in Northern Ireland, all based on the fraudulent testimony of a former SIS member, were proven to be inaccurate, Dartmouth’s father committed suicide when his son was only seven or eight years old. Thus, when a decade later the directionless young man matriculates at Oxford and meets a tutor named Liam O’Phelan, an IRA nationalist who persuades the undergraduate that his father was duped by an English campaign of disinformation, he accepts recruitment as an infiltrator for the sole purpose of pursuing his private vendetta. Subsequently earning an advanced degree in Arabic Studies, Dartmouth then passes MI5’s vetting process before being seconded to MI6 for four post–9/11 years in Pakistan. While there, intent exclusively on his own agenda, he enlists a trio of British Asians who, having been radicalized politically while studying at a madrassa, are eager under the Englishman’s direction to wage jihad against their country of birth. In this chain of serial deception each party is exploiting another for ulterior motives, the tangled conspiracy as a whole arising from Tom Dartmouth’s outrage over the fate of a father whom he never knew and therefore must invent. “‘Treachery,’” says Liz Carlyle at one point, “‘is nearly always also loyalty. But what matters is the nature of the cause we’re loyal to’” (54). 155

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Rimington’s feminist perspective enables her to trace convincingly the kind of man that such a haunted son grows up to become. Detesting his mother’s remarriage to a stepfather whose surname she insists he take, Tom Dartmouth is outwardly charming but otherwise an emotional void: “He seemed to be a man with no cause. A man who could not — did not — love anything or anyone.” His attractive former wife Margarita Levy, once a violinist with the Tel Aviv Symphony Orchestra, further admits of their childless union, “‘He could be very icy, even at the beginning. Towards the end he was like a freezer compartment’” (298). Clearly implied is an arrested or crippled sexuality that cannot negotiate intimacy. Tom’s MI5 office and living quarters also bear witness to his barren existence. Dartmouth’s desk, it is reported, “had none of the bric-a-brac that most people brought in to make their working space more personal” (215), and later, when Carlyle has an opportunity to search his flat, she discovers a retreat of “almost Germanic cleanliness” whose bookshelves reveal that he has a penchant for thrillers (288), including Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal (1971). Like the chameleonic assassin of that novel, Tom Dartmouth finds fulfillment only in pitting himself against impossible odds, in his case Oxford as the iconic representation of an empire “‘built on power and hypocrisy’” (297). Though effective in profiling the antagonist’s fixation, Secret Asset ends by dismissing it as an incomprehensible psychopathology. Once Liz Carlyle intuits that Oxford’s Encaenia ceremony is Tom Dartmouth’s target, for example, she uses Charles Wetherby as a sounding board to puzzle over their renegade colleague’s motivation: “Do you feel you understand him now?” Wetherby asked. ... She replied, “Given the resentment he must have felt about his father’s death, I suppose I can understand the IRA’s appeal, especially when their approach was made by a charismatic figure like O’Phelan. What I don’t get is how it could be switched to another set of terrorists and another cause. Especially since I don’t think Tom has any particular sympathy for Islam.” “Does he believe in anything?” “Not in the sense of a credo. That’s why I don’t understand what he’s trying to do today...” [313].

Despite her vaunted capacity for operational “instinct,” Carlyle’s compartmentalized way of thinking prevents her from recognizing that Dartmouth’s long-festering sense of loss may have involved more than mere 156

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“resentment” and that, therefore, any anti–Establishment cause was a useful blind for exacting punitive retribution. Even after the novel’s climax Liz cannot fathom the depth of Tom’s obsession. When police intercept a white van carrying a fertilizer bomb that fails to explode upon the vehicle’s careening into a nearby wall, killing two of the young Pakistanis, she is mystified as to why Dartmouth had supplied his proxies with faulty detonators and why in the last few minutes he warned security of the impending threat. Only belatedly does Carlyle grasp the fact that all along her former associate had intended to embarrass MI5 as incompetent before embarking on a continuing war of opposition. That long-range danger goes awry, however, when Tom Dartmouth falls to his death from a rooftop near his observation post at Blackwell’s. “‘So was he simply mad?’” asks Liz en route back to London with Charles. “‘We’ll never know now,’ said Wetherby. ‘What we do know is that he wasn’t who we thought he was’” (356). The ending of Secret Asset disappoints because its author had promised more by way of exploring the Security Service’s “‘wilderness of mirrors’” in which “‘nothing was what it seemed to be’” (180). The trope, borrowed from T. S. Eliot’s poem “Gerontion” (1920), is first invoked when Dave Armstrong, having deduced that Tom Dartmouth is the MI5 mole, confides his suspicions to Charles Wetherby, whereupon he is subjected to a withering lecture about the need for hard evidence. Citing the case of James Angleton, paranoid CIA counter-intelligence czar from the 1950s through the mid–1970s, Wetherby warns Armstrong against jumping to conclusions, but Rimington fails to mine the metaphor despite recycling it in the novel’s conclusion. During a colloquy with Wetherby after newspaper coverage of the aborted bomb attempt, Carlyle thus remarks of Dartmouth: “No, Charles,” she said, “I do take it personally. He was never loyal to the Service or to any of us. He was using us as a means to an end.... In the wilderness of mirrors he was the wrong way round.” “Of course you’re right,” conceded Charles with an easy smile. “It’s meaningless to make a distinction between the Service and its officers. What was it E. M. Forster said? ‘If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.’ I’ve always felt our duty was precisely the opposite.” “Me too,” said Liz simply [361].

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In the vertiginous maze of specular images that comprise a “‘wilderness of mirrors,’” how is it possible to be “‘the wrong way round’”? This is not, I would propose, a mere quibble over a mishandled metaphor. The trope’s being mentioned twice indicates its appeal to Rimington, and in fact it describes quite aptly the world of illusion in which Tom Dartmouth’s entire being becomes enmeshed. What irks, though, is how categorically one side in the shadow-game of espionage is assumed to be “right” and the other “wrong.” Liz Carlyle’s high-sounding objection to their rogue colleague’s “using [them] as a means to an end” ignores completely the fact that she and fellow MI5 officers do exactly the same thing in running field agents, and Charles Wetherby’s skeptical response to Forster’s statement in “What I Believe” strikes one as self-aggrandizing. Perhaps, however, my criticism of the narrative’s coda is unfair in being based on the premise that the author’s objective encompasses more than certifying her main characters as kindred spirits.

Dead Line: The Rejection of Gamesmanship Because Illegal Action (2007), Dead Line (2008), and Present Danger (2009) break only slightly new ground, I shall discuss them at less length while giving priority to the second of these recent novels. All three incorporate variations on the representation of women within the genre. We also should keep in mind that behind these latest installments in her series Rimington continues to concentrate on the protagonist’s desire to strike a harmonious balance between her professional career and private life. Illegal Action differs from Secret Asset not only by positioning Carlyle as an undercover agent who no longer is in operational control but also by juxtaposing her with a ruthless female adversary fiercely committed to accomplishing her mission. The stage is set when Wetherby, after a Whitehall inquiry into the “Oxford Plot,” takes a temporary leave of absence to spend time with his dying wife. Before his departure Liz comes under the direction of Brian Ackers, a Cold War veteran skeptical of post-glasnost détente. Upon learning that one of thirty Russian “oligarchs” living as émigrés in London, several of whom are outspokenly critical of Vladimir Putin, is being singled out for silencing “‘pour encourager les autres’” (36), 158

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Ackers decides to insert Liz Carlyle, under her alias of “Jane Falconer,” into Nikita Brunovsky’s mansion in order to forestall a repetition of “‘the Litvinenko business’” (60). Ever topical, Rimington is referring to the 2006 assassination by radioactive poisoning of former KGB officer and anti–Putin dissident Alexander Litvinenko in England’s capital. Posing as an enthusiast of painter Sergei Pashko, whose supposedly lost work billionaire art collector Brunovsky wishes to acquire, Carlyle divides her time between research at the oligarch’s Belgravia residence and her other life at Thames House. In this context we are introduced to Liz Carlyle’s dark rival, a Soviettrained killer who has attached herself to Brunovsky’s retinue as “Greta Darnshof,” the haute couture editor of a glossy art magazine. No Rosa Klebb with stiletto-equipped brogues, this “illegal”4 instead wields a Stanley knife with which in the opening scene she wounds a purse-snatcher and later murders another man when they threaten to interfere with her Moscow-dictated assignment. One passage makes especially clear that the lethal skills of this insurgent, who midway through the novel almost succeeds in slitting Carlyle’s throat during a feigned mugging, have been honed under the watchful gaze of male supervisors: In her lengthy training, they had made her kill. They took convicts out of the prisons — those who’d been sentenced to death — and put the trainees up against them. At the beginning they’d intervened to make sure the trainees survived. But later in the course, it was a free contest. No one interfered; it was a fight to the death. She had been determined that whoever died, it would not be her. She had surprised herself with the ease with which she killed — stuck the knife in or pulled tight the garrotte — and they had noticed too, the instructors, those hard-eyed, expressionless men whose job it was to turn out graduates of their courses who could survive in the most extreme situations [88–89].

Some might suggest a prototype for this character in resourceful Modesty Blaise, the subject of Peter O’Donnell’s syndicated comic strip that was adapted during its run from 1963 to 2001 in dozens of adventure novels, short stories, and screenplays. For the first American edition of O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise (1965), in fact, Doubleday publicists ballyhooed her on the front cover as the “feminine answer to James Bond.” Unlike this pulp creation, however, Rimington’s assassin is never eroticized, nor does she use her sexuality as a weapon to gain tactical advantage. A closer parallel is the vaguely androgynous title figure of Luc Besson’s film Nikita (1990) 159

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who, as Rosie White contends in Violent Femmes: Women as Spies in Popular Culture, “confound[s] the [W]estern binary understanding of gender that aligns femininity with objectified passivity” (1). Left far behind, thankfully, is the spy-courtesan Mata Hari whose mythicized reincarnations molded the “honey-trap” stereotype of women in earlier espionage narratives. Here, however, we stumble upon a frisson within Illegal Action. If “Jane Falconer” is being doubled with “Greta Darnshof,” as previously I proposed Liz Carlyle was with Jean D’Aubigny in At Risk, what valorizes Rimington’s protagonist? The answer, of course, is that Falconer/Carlyle belongs to the “right” side in this conflict but also that, in contrast to her Russian opponent, she still struggles not to be subjugated by the nature of her profession. Combating a vestigial old-boy bias that women are “‘okay for desk work but can’t really deal with the sharp end’” (226), Liz embraces the idea of someday having a husband and family but not at the expense of a career she finds so fulfilling. Her MI5 friend Judith Spratt in Secret Asset seemed to her “the epitome of a woman who had it all” (231), yet, having discovered that Judith’s investment-banker spouse suddenly abandoned his wife and daughter, Carlyle is wary of trying to bridge the gulf between her Security Service employment and outside relationships. “‘How was your day, darling?’” she realized in Rimington’s second novel, “was never going to be a question Liz could answer honestly, not unless her partner was in the same business” (227). Illegal Action thus contributes to “rewriting women’s agency within the closed world of fictive clandestinity” (Christine Bold 181), but in its closing vignette Charles Wetherby is still “waiting for her patiently” after the funeral for a young coworker killed by Greta Darnshof (289). The dust-jacket artwork of Dead Line, for which Rimington changed her publisher from Random House to Quercus, dispels any doubt about how we are to visualize Liz Carlyle. In an air-brushed image worthy of Glamour magazine, the protagonist — pinstripe-suited, raven-haired, and strikingly beautiful — stands posed before the blurred outlines of three mannequin-like males, next to which a caption touts Carlyle as “a successful woman in a man’s world facing her toughest challenge yet.” Although handicapped by its cover graphic and blurb, this fourth installment in the series shares Secret Asset’s focus on duplicity within the ranks of intelligence 160

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services, now expanded to include the intermeshed security networks of Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Western powers. All these nations are stakeholders in an upcoming Middle East summit at a resort in Gleneagles, Scotland, but a usually reliable source in Idarat al-Mukhabarat has reported that “‘two individuals [are] acting to prevent any peaceful solution to the current stalemate’” (6–7). Liz Carlyle, of course, is assigned to investigate the leads. When they turn out to be false, however, her attention shifts to Danny Kollek, a suave Mossad officer attached to the Israeli Embassy in London who has ingratiated himself with Hannah Gold, mother-in-law of one of Carlyle’s former colleagues. Kollek, we later learn, is a triple agent in the arena of international espionage, dissembling as “Aleppo” with the Syrians and as “Tiger” with the Americans, and it is he who for strictly private reasons, like Tom Dartmouth in Secret Asset, is seeking to sabotage the Gleneagles conference. What sets Dead Line off from the earlier novels, though, is Liz Carlyle’s preoccupation with “her personal life’s dismaying lack of progress” while engaged in this manhunt (373). Rimington’s “successful woman” at age 35 dwells more than ever on her relational life. While being courted from time to time by Miles Brookhaven, an Ivy League Anglophile recruited to the CIA’s station in London, Carlyle envies her young protégé Peggy Kinsolving’s liaison with a lecturer in English at King’s College, as she does also friend Sophie Margolis’s fulfilling family life with David Gold and her widowed mother Susan’s attachment to “New Man” Edward Treglown (101). In the background hovers Charles Wetherby: “[Liz] was strongly attracted to him[,] and she knew he cared about her too. But it was an unspoken affection, an invisible thread that neither acknowledged” (11). In the meantime, distracted by this unresolved entanglement, Liz is caught off guard in being run down by Danny Kollek near her Kentish Town flat. In short, Liz’s personal problems are beginning to impinge on, if not impair fully, her professional alertness. The same, however, cannot be said of Carlyle’s male adversary in Dead Line. Having long ago forfeited the idea of an autonomous life, Kollek is monomaniacally intent on avenging the public hanging of his Jewish grandfather who during the Suez Crisis of 1956 was put to death on trumped-up charges of treason. Driven by this generational sense of injustice, again like Tom Dartmouth, he seeks redress for an historical 161

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wrong that can never be righted by a cunningly conceived attack on Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad at Gleneagles. Perceived by his undercover contacts as “pathological” because “there was something ruthlessly clinical about him, an air of controlled menace” (162, 229), this rogue operative has divested himself of any identifiably human aspirations in order to become a “twisted puppeteer” who can manipulate entire security bastions (285). Danny Kollek’s success in this regard includes his ability to allure by his sexual magnetism a young Czech waitress into facilitating his longplotted scenario for revenge. “Who said the age of the Individual was over?” thinks Liz Carlyle at one point (287), perhaps not realizing the irony of her reflection about a man stripped of autotelic agency by a controlling memory of his ancestral past. Rimington writes that her protagonist peers into a “mystery [where] she saw only a hall of mirrors” (243), echoing the metaphor first broached in Secret Asset, but what saves Carlyle, by virtue of her commitment to forging a personal life for herself, is the determination “not to play Kollek’s game” (348). This masculinist idea of gamesmanship, as we have seen, has everything to do with the provenance of spy fiction. By the late 1930s, according to Michael Denning, we can identify two kinds of espionage-centered productions: All thrillers are heavily coded by ethics, by the binary of good and evil: but there is a difference between those that we might call magical thrillers where there is a clear contest between Good and Evil with a virtuoso hero defeating an alien and evil villain, and those that we might call existential thrillers which play on a dialectic of good and evil overdetermined by moral dilemmas, by moves from innocence to experience, and by identity crises, the discovery in the double agent that the self may be evil [34].

If we apply these categories to Rimington, her contributions to the genre can be regarded as “magical” rather than “existential” thrillers. At the same time, however, her feminist slant reveals a latent skepticism about institutionalized espionage that is anticipated, ironically, by James Bond’s explanation of his profession to Vivienne Michel in Fleming’s The Spy Who Loved Me (1962): “‘It’s nothing but a complicated game, really. But then so’s international politics, diplomacy — all the trappings of nationalism and the power complex that goes on between countries. Nobody will stop playing the game. It’s like the hunting instinct’” (110). Agent 007’s rationale 162

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is conveniently self-justifying, but Liz Carlyle threads a finer line. In her mind one can serve the interests of Queen and country without succumbing to the larger “power complex” of international politics, and she is ennobled by this conviction. Still one questions whether she is not misled in her unwavering adherence to this principle. Despite its trendy cover graphics, Dead Line is arguably Rimington’s most successful spy story to date because it lays bare the male-encoded paradigm of espionage. The novel’s portrayal of Charles Wetherby’s uneasy working alliance with Tyrus Oakes, CIA Director of Counter-Intelligence, and the latter’s deference to supervisor General Gerry Harding, both of whom have been duped by Danny Kollek, are adroit sketches of how the upper echelons of espiocracy worldwide are more than willing to practice reciprocal deception for the sake of expediency in its hall-of-mirrors world. Present Danger extends this feminist critique by examining how villainous Seamus Piggott is driven, exactly like his counterparts in Secret Asset and Dead Line, by an all-consuming desire for revenge against those who have in some way violated an assumed patriarchal or fraternal bond. Absent in all these cases, Rimington implies, is any balanced sense of selfidentity. As profiled in Present Danger, the antagonist has allowed himself to be neutered by his obsession with avenging a male family member. Slender, authoritarian, and ruthless, with short-cropped hair and rimless glasses, Piggott — once James Purnell, a second-generation Irish American and MIT aerospace engineer who during the 1990s developed weapons systems for the U.S. Department of Defense — is intent on exacting reprisals for the death of his younger brother Edwin, found guilty of arms-smuggling to Northern Ireland, while in a Louisiana federal prison. James thus changes his name and sets up a Belfast company, appropriately designated Fraternal Holdings, in order to generate funds through drug trafficking for reactivating the former IRA and destabilizing the precarious peace accord. He becomes, in short, the consummate anarchist devoid of all human susceptibilities except a blinding hatred of the status quo. The text’s controlling voice describes Seamus Piggott as follows: ... Enduring loyalty was a contradiction in terms. Any allegiance was vulnerable; everyone could be seduced by something: money, women, power, fear[,] or an ideology. There were many people in this little island whose lives

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The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction were governed by ideology — be it Irish Republicanism or so-called Loyalism to the British crown.... Piggott himself was happy to pay lip service to the ideology of Irish Republicanism. His credentials as a long-standing IRA supporter had helped to establish him in the Belfast underworld almost overnight. But his only true ideology nowadays, the only thing he really cared about, was revenge. He’d made the money he had once craved, growing up poor in South Boston. Women had never mattered to him at all — it seemed inexplicable why so many men met their downfall chasing a skirt. And as for power, it was enough that people feared him; the people working for him did what he said, and everyone else gave him a wide berth. So he had only one desire now: the burning urge, fuelled by anger, to get even with the people who had hurt him. To injure them as they’d injured him. That was what was driving him on [126–27].

Rimington’s crippled antagonist, reminiscent of the “stunted” Professor in Conrad’s The Secret Agent who seeks to strike a blow against “the atrocious injustice of society” by supplying bombs to whomever requests them (60), figures then as Liz Carlyle’s quarry during her interim posting, but only after her friend and professional associate Dave Armstrong is discovered to have been abducted by an assassination-minded Piggott. While she tracks down the fomenter of renewed terrorism in Northern Ireland, aided primarily by Judith Spratt and Peggy Kinsolving from earlier novels in the series, two other male characters play symbolically important roles. The first is Michael Binding, who appears in Secret Asset and who in Present Danger is nominal head of the Security Service’s counter-terrorism office in Belfast. As Carlyle’s supervisor he is “a clever but impatient man, whose impatience was at its worst when he had to work with female colleagues.” Notorious for his dismissively sexist insensitivity as well as for his almost hysterical paralysis at moments of operational crisis, this functionary attires himself anew for each assignment. Thus, although at Thames House in London “Binding had always favoured the country[-]squire look — tweed sports jacket, checked shirt[,] and highly polished brown brogues,” in Belfast he reinvents himself sartorially as a military officer: “[N]ow he was wearing a long-sleeved khaki pullover, with leather patches on the sleeves, narrow corduroy trousers in a curious shade of faded pinkish-red, and brown suede shoes” (30). In contrast to this British poseur is Martin Seurat, head of France’s Direction Génerale de la Sécurité Extérieure, whom Liz Carlyle must consult regarding Antoine Milraud, 164

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one of Piggott’s long-standing accomplices in the munitions trade whose cover is that of an antiques dealer. Recently divorced and “five or six years older than Liz,” Seurat “seemed comfortable with himself, self-assured but without the need to dominate” (116, 120). In this respect he is diametrically different from both Michael Binding and Bruno Mackay, for whom Rimington’s heroine represents little more than a stimulus for male chauvinism. Present Danger’s romantic subplot slants off unexpectedly, however, in its final few pages. After wounded Dave Armstrong has been rescued by a French commando raid on the Ile de Porquerolles where he is being kept hostage, the text’s conclusion reveals that its protagonist is no longer as captivated by her in-service relationship with Charles Wetherby as she was earlier. Assigned to Northern Island because of MI5’s Director General’s worries about “office romances” pursuant to Joanne Wetherby’s death (14), Carlyle reflects on her “strong sense that she had to get on with life now, that there was no point in retreating yet again into the patchwork of code that had characterised her relationship with Charles for so long.” Rather than returning immediately to London, therefore, she decides to accept Martin Seurat’s invitation to spend a few days with him at a rustic hotel near Toulon because, as she tells a solicitous Wetherby by phone, “‘Spring is just about to start in the south’” (326). This ending of her latest novel makes it abundantly clear that Stella Rimington writes romantic fiction. The larger question, however, is whether that popular mode, given her declared intention of presenting “the antithesis of James Bond” in Liz Carlyle, is compatible with the kind of espionage story crafted by Ambler, Greene, Deighton, and le Carré. Although it is not my objective in this study to propose a taxonomy of the genre, I am arguing that its salient, even constitutive, feature is a sustained pattern of diegetically oblique narration, one which compels the reader to wrestle with “‘arabesques of the final pattern’” and which culminates in highly ambiguous or qualified resolutions. If this argument proves persuasive, then Rimington’s feminist challenge to the androcentric tradition of British spy fiction seems limited by its avowed impetus — namely, her contestation of Ian Fleming’s hugely successful but essentially parodic Bond cycle. None of her five novels to date, moreover, follows the kind of elliptical or indirect architectonics I have explored in her precursors’ 165

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texts. Indeed, Rimington’s narratology highlights its own linearity and romantic preoccupations,5 such that we are not caught entirely off guard by how they eventuate in a formulaic dénouement. Nonetheless, if all of the preceding points are conceded, we should be wary of summarily discounting her attempt to reconstruct the genre. A few pages ago, drawing on Denning’s distinction, I suggested that this former MI5 Director General composes “magical” rather than “existential” thrillers. On the one hand, the claim means that her body of work so far revolves around an uncomplicated “binary of good and evil ... with a virtuoso hero[ine] defeating an alien and evil villain.” This trait alone would seem to affiliate her, ironically, with the masculinist tradition of espionage-related adventure tales first devised by Erskine Childers, John Buchan, and William Le Queux. On the other hand, I would add the caveat that romantic fiction, especially when informed by a feminist consciousness, has its own structural dynamics, which may be incommensurate with British spy fiction’s history. In this regard we would do well to consider Janice A. Radway’s insights in Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature.6 Not long after Tania Modleski and Ann Douglas had decried Harlequin Romances in 1980 for contributing to the ideological subjugation of women, Radway interviewed 42 female devotees of the genre. What Radway discovered, contrary to the judgments of feminist scholars, was that a high percentage of these respondents confessed that such reading fare, rather than delimiting their sense of selfworth, in fact expanded it by allowing them to transcend vicariously their everyday obligations as wives and mothers. Such a finding calls into question the idea that “ideological control is ... all-pervasive and complete as a consequence of the ubiquity of mass culture itself and of the power of individual artifacts or texts over individuals who can do nothing but ingest them” (6). Equally interesting is the fact that Radway cites critic Kay J. Mussell, who in the same year as Modleski and Douglas offered their indictments expressed the conviction that “popular fiction is not realistic, is not intended to be by its authors, and is not desired to be by its readers” (“Romantic” 317). Seventeen years later, however, in a short interview posted on the website www.likesbooks.com, Mussell modified her former stance by asserting: 166

5. Stella Rimington’s Feminist Espionage Fiction I don’t know how you can read many romances today as anything but feminist. To take just one issue: Heroes and heroines meet each other on a much more equal playing field. Heroes don’t always dominate[,] and heroines are frequently right. Heroines have expertise and aren’t afraid to show it. Heroes aren’t the fount of all wisdom[,] and they actually have things to learn from heroines. This is true of both contemporary and historical romances. I’m not trying to argue that all romances before the 1990s featured unequal relationships or that all romances today are based on equality. That’s clearly not the case. But in general heroines today have a lot more independence and authority than their counterparts did in earlier romances. I think that’s clear evidence of the influence of feminism on romances and of the ability of romance novels to address contemporary concerns that women share.

Mussell’s reconsidered view of romantic fiction seems to describe exactly what Rimington is about in her “magical” thrillers. This observation is not meant to slight her achievement, but I would maintain that it still leaves her outside the pale of Greene and le Carré’s “subtlety” in the espionage genre. Shortly after the publication of At Risk in 2004, Boyd Tonkin handed down the verdict that “what we need from Stella Rimington is the novel she can never write: a morally ambiguous, [l]e Carré-style drama rooted in the murky domestic intrigues of the MI5 she served so well.” Perhaps this expectation, however, is not quite fair given her feminist agenda as an author of romances that cross over into the traditionally male province of espionage. Although Rimington is not the equal of her distinguished peer in terms of thematic complexity, she traces in all her fiction the simmering rivalries, tensions, and mistrust between the two premier branches of England’s “Secret State.” Moreover, as Mark T. Hooker observes, she excels at incorporating realistic “insider” background that only one with her intelligence experience could know. Whether this feature points toward a new direction for the post–9/11 British spy narrative is anyone’s guess, but clearly Rimington’s novels fulfill a speculation by Julian Symons on “the hybrid creature we call sensational literature” (4). “After the varied talents of Fleming, [l]e Carré, and Deighton,” he wrote in 1972, “it is difficult to see how the spy story can go much further at present, although perhaps it can ... be used as the basis for a new kind of documentary approach” (246). The moratorium that Symons went on to propose for espionage fiction has not occurred, in part because the genre continues to accommodate a critique 167

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of individual agency while exploring our collective anxieties during the current Age of Terrorism. Liz Carlyle may not strike everyone as a wholly credible alternative to James Bond, but in her preoccupation with not becoming a marionette of her job she does seek a balance in her life that many of her fictional male counterparts either ignore or devalue. To that extent Stella Rimington’s romantic heroine exemplifies a priority that such figures as John le Carré’s cuckolded George Smiley or Charles Cumming’s callow Alec Milius recognize too late.

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Charles Cumming’s Contemporary Vision Writing in the shadow of John le Carré’s continuing preeminence, which seems not about to wane any time soon, four other British authors besides Stella Rimington have endeavored to recast the espionage thriller: Charles Cumming (A Spy by Nature [2001], The Hidden Man [2003], The Spanish Game [2006], Typhoon [2008], The Trinity Six [forthcoming]); Steve Jackson (The Mentor [2006], The Judas [2008], The Watcher [forthcoming]); Henry Porter (Remembrance Day [1999], A Spy’s Life [2001], Empire State [2003], The Dying Light [2010]); and Jon Stock (The Riot Act [1997], The Cardamon Club [2003], Dead Spy Running [2009]). Of these novelists the youngest has proven the most successful, as reviews of his work to date overwhelmingly attest. Born in 1971, Cumming has been touted as “probably the best of the new generation of British spy writers taking over where le Carré and Deighton left off. The spies are younger, less jaded, but equally cynical and still operating in a wholly amoral world” (Guttridge). References to these earlier luminaries may be inevitable, given the predilection of journalists to enshrine certain literary precursors, but Cumming seems to have made his mark immediately. A Spy by Nature thus was declared a “fine debut to what will doubtless be an impressive literary career” (Roberts). An unsigned blurb in Publishers Weekly agreed by describing Cumming’s narrative as “a first-class ... thriller” that “will delight fans of such British masters of spy fiction as John le Carré, Robert Ludlum[,] and Len Deighton” (32), notwithstanding Ludlum’s being an American. Reviews of the subsequent novels were no less complimentary. The Hidden Man, asserted Simon Shaw, confirmed Cumming’s standing as a “master of the modern spy thriller,” an opinion anticipated some sixteen months earlier 169

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by Andrew Martin who wrote rather grandiloquently, “Cumming is a man put on earth to perpetuate the spy thriller.” The Spanish Game and Typhoon enjoyed comparable accolades. Of the former novel Peter Millar proposed that comparisons with le Carré were inaccurate because its protagonist is “a new spy for a new century” and, therefore, that Cumming “deserves to become an institution in his own right” (“A Spy”). The same reviewer inconsistently lauded Typhoon as “another step in the footprints of the master” (“Worthy”). It could be argued, of course, that the hyperbolic tenor of such plaudits is symptomatic of little more than the eagerness of broadsheet critics to prophesy the advent of a new challenger to the existing literary throne. Nonetheless, given so enthusiastic a reception by these commentators, we are obliged to ask wherein lies the secret of Cumming’s widely perceived success. Among other things this 1994 honors graduate in English literature from the University of Edinburgh incorporates a significant amount of background research in his narratives, as is evidenced by appended sections acknowledging various sources of information. Before writing The Spanish Game he took such preparation a step further by moving with his wife to Madrid for three years, forming an attachment that led him to include maps of the city in the novel’s front matter (à la le Carré in The Tailor of Panama). The same cartographic realism reappears in Typhoon. Cumming’s attention to a mimetic representation of milieu is not unlike what one finds in the work of Paul Theroux, and this concern with authenticity imparts to his espionage tales a documentary verisimilitude against which he can present the verbal interactions of his characters. Such exchanges usually evince what A Spy by Nature describes as “a constant duplicity” (235), suggesting not only a trait endemic to the culture of espiocracy but also its inculcation in those drawn to a career as professional spooks. In this regard an observation by Cumming in his review of A Most Wanted Man for The Daily Telegraph is apposite. Asserting that le Carré’s narrative is “propelled almost exclusively by dialogue,” although the claim warrants qualification, he goes on to say, “It is in the trickeries and evasions of conversation that men reveal themselves” (“Journey”). The remark indicates why Cumming’s inaugural novel in particular, which features Alec Milius, is heavily dialogical. To test further this study’s thesis, therefore, we turn to an examination of this author. 170

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A Spy by Nature: “A Constant Duplicity” Unlike such earlier fictional spies as Alec Leamas in The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, the pseudonymous Harry in The Ipcress File, or the code-named title character in The Quiller Memorandum, Milius is neither a grizzled veteran of Cold War politics nor a Cockney insubordinate to public-school handlers nor a menacing loner beyond control by a faceless “Bureau.” Instead, Cumming’s protagonist, only 24 years old at the beginning of A Spy by Nature, is a thoroughly self-absorbed representative of what sociologists have dubbed “Generation X.” Incapable of charting a course for his life, Milius earns a degree at the London School of Economics and, though fluent in Russian, drifts into a low-end job as a fraudulent telemarketer for a scam that dignifies itself as the Central European Business Development Organization. An inveterate liar, Alec justifies his lack of principles by convincing himself, as do most con-men, that the world at large and its institutions are also steeped in hypocrisy. To him, therefore, a résumé is simply “a sheet of word-processed fictions,” an employment interview “sixty minutes of half-truths,” and a lull in conversation at a pub an invitation to tell “a slight lie ... just to fill the silence” (5, 13, 323). Even when playing chess with Saul Ricken, his sole friend, Milius cannot resist the impulse to cheat. Given his mendacity and absence of faith in any ideology (“‘You’ve got nothing to believe in,’” says Saul to Alec [32]), Cumming’s Gen Xer is an ideal prospect for recruitment by MI6, which approaches him for vetting through family acquaintance Michael Hawkes, a former Cold War spy whose business now lies in protecting the overseas investment interests of a British oil company named Abnex in its competition with an American firm for petroleum reserves in the Caspian Sea. The intelligence establishment’s complicity in industrial espionage marks a new focus of the genre, one that Cumming explores via the obliquities of speech. Roughly the first quarter of A Spy by Nature, for example, revolves around a three-day battery of interviews and tests that Milius undergoes as a candidate for MI6, 1 in the course of which, after “ponder[ing] evasive answers” and “blatant untruths” (47), he meets with an officer of the Secret Intelligence Service who reluctantly makes the following admission: 171

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction For obvious reasons, I can’t talk about the specifics of my own operation. But, yes, industrial espionage, competitive intelligence — whatever you want to call it — poses a very grave threat to British interests. Purely in economic terms, allowing British secrets to pass into the hands of rival organizations and companies is catastrophic. There is an argument, in fact, that industrial spies are more damaging to British interests in the long term even than Cold War traitors. That’s not to say that we aren’t still concerned with traditional counterespionage measures [69–70].

Much later Fortner Grice, an ex–CIA agent currently working for the Andromeda Corporation who thinks that he has “turned” Alec as a mole within the rank-and-file of Abnex, puts the matter more bluntly. “‘The end of the Cold War,’” says the opportunistic Grice, “‘has meant an increasingly blurred line between state-sponsored intelligence gathering and private-sector espionage’” (196). The novel’s climax comes when Milius, who lends himself to a “sting” operation against Andromeda conceived by SIS with the promise of a possible appointment to MI5, occasions the murders of coworker Harry Cohen, former girlfriend Kate Allardyce, and her fiancé through his chicanery in trying to play both ends against the middle. The result of “a constant duplicity,” as practiced by all parties involved in the scheme, is the engineered deaths of three innocents. Before Alec’s actions precipitate such consequences, however, the “burden of secrecy” and his perpetual “entanglement with bluff, doublebluff, second-guess, and guile” trigger “a compelling urge to confess” (224, 289), which unfortunately he proceeds to do in Kate’s bugged apartment. First, though, the narrator/protagonist confides: I want now to be rid of all half-truths and deceptions, of all the necessary lies of my life. I have been doing this for so long now that I cannot recall when the deceiving began, when it became necessary, in the name of a higher cause, to be something other than the person I once was [289; my emphasis].

Lest it be assumed that this statement signals some kind of awakening, we should note the self-justifying thrust of the word “necessary” here. (Perhaps it is no accident that Alec’s code name while providing Andromeda with falsified data is the cryptonym “Justify.”) Thus, although earlier he remarks that he “never thought it would be necessary to tell the truth” (276; my emphasis), Milius still is deluding himself. Virtually nothing he has undertaken in his adult life has been done, as he asserts above, “in the name of 172

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a higher cause.” Instead, the callow Gen Xer has been driven solely by a consuming desire for money (he demands, and receives, over £500,000 from CIA coffers) as well as by a “blind greed for acclaim” (289). Also revealing, finally, is the way in which Alec Milius compares himself to Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, and Kim Philby, three double agents of the infamous Cambridge cell. He exempts a fourth member, Anthony Blunt, as motivated by unknown reasons, but of the other triad, with whom Milius aligns himself, he posits that they “were twisted in on themselves, corrupt from the soul up,” but then disingenuously adds a few sentences later that “all the traitor ever craves is respect” (201). Immersed in a trade that values “plausible deniability,” Alec is oblivious to the sophistry of his ethical reasoning. The final page of A Spy by Nature offers a parting glimpse of its main character’s moral bankruptcy. Although always torn, Milius would have us believe, by an inner “conflict ... between doing what is necessary and expedient, and what I feel is right” (353), he prepares to divulge the full story of his activities as a spy to Saul Ricken in order to deter retaliation by the CIA, knowing all the while that he thereby is jeopardizing his friend’s life as he already has done in sealing the fate of Kate Allardyce. In this closing defense we should note again the protagonist’s use of the word “necessary” and its pairing with “expedient,” which implies an equivalency of meaning. If committed to nothing beyond himself, Alec Milius excels at the parsing of words. Does Cumming’s debut novel, then, live up to its journalistic acclaim? By way of a preliminary answer one must admit that he has thoroughly absorbed his precursors’ defining ways of construing their generations’ experience. Echoing Graham Greene in The Confidential Agent, Cumming thus has his protagonist say, “There is at all times a feeling of being watched” and “I live constantly with the prospect of abandonment” (236). It also is difficult not to admire a stylist capable of such touches, reminiscent of Len Deighton’s fiction, as the trope of a character’s mouth “dropp[ing] into a deep scowl, like a horseshoe spilling its luck” (186). Beyond that level of intertextual reverberation, however, A Spy by Nature compels attention because its young author has learned from le Carré the genre’s narratological demand upon readers to decipher an elliptical text. At one point, seemingly as though to flag this dimension of his novel, Cumming has Alec Milius declare: 173

The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction All my conversations, no matter who they are with, have this quality of evasion about them. They are significant not for what is said in the everyday to and fro of mutual trickery, but rather for what is left unspoken. It’s all about hidden meanings, reading between the lines, teasing out the subtext. This is where the skill resides [212].

In addition to these traits, all the while concentrating on a typical Gen Xer of the early twenty-first century, the narrative makes clear that what motivates its protagonist is nothing more than the god of profit, a motif interwoven in British espionage fiction from Ambler’s The Dark Frontier all the way through le Carré’s The Constant Gardener. Given his ability to infuse A Spy by Nature with these elements and, more importantly, to sustain our interest in his story’s outcome, Cumming deserves notice as an accomplished successor in the genre’s main trajectory of development. The Spanish Game, Cumming’s intricately plotted sequel, deepens his analysis of the systematic duplicity involved in espionage. Nearly six years after the events recorded in A Spy by Nature, Alec Milius, having migrated from Paris to St. Petersburg to Milan to Madrid, finds himself “alone in a foreign city, a man of thirty-three with no friends or roots, drifting, timebiding, waiting for something to happen” (6). What he fears is reprisal for having compromised America and England’s “special relationship.” Thus when Saul Ricken, whom he has made the keeper of his secrets via a “signed affidavit recounting in detail my relationship with MI5 and SIS” (10), proposes to visit him again after a three-and-a-half-year rupture in their friendship, Alec is automatically suspicious, wondering whether Saul has been commissioned to track him down. Meanwhile the expatriated narrator is having an affair with the Spanish wife of Julian Church, head of a private bank named Endiom, who has employed Milius as a consultant to expand the institution’s portfolio of investment clients. Sofía Church knows nothing about Alec’s past, and for him at least the sexual liaison, as compared to his former relationship with Kate, is “only heightened by the added frisson of adultery and ultimately rendered meaningless by an absence of love” (7). All these personal entanglements, centered as they are on deception and mistrust, set the stage for a much larger set of tensions related to the Basque nationalist movement in 2003, the novel’s fictive time frame, when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is about to be invaded. This attention by Cumming to potential flashpoints of world conflict 174

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that have been overlooked amid the “War on Terror” in the Middle East indicates the breadth of his geopolitical awareness. In The Spanish Game he thus has Milius travel to San Sebastián on business and, while there, meet with Mikel Arenaza, a leader in the separatist party known as Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) recently banned by Prime Minister José María Aznar. The charismatic Arenaza has renounced his earlier faith in armed struggle, recognizing in his later years the never-ending cycle of violence that terrorist tactics perpetuate. Like Milius, the former ETA apologist is walking a tightrope between two phases of his life and, unbeknownst to him, is about to suffer the retaliatory consequences of a past affiliation. Having fallen in love with a younger woman in Madrid named Rosalía Dieste, whose stepfather was blown up by an ETA car bomb in 1983, Arenaza vanishes after escaping from San Sebastián to visit her, a mystery that prompts Alec to abandon his cocoon of self-protective detachment. What motivates Milius initially seems to be a commendable interest in resolving the likely murder of a newfound friend, but Cumming makes clear that what matters instead to Alec is the opportunity to recapture “the kick and buzz of the old days” because he misses “the sense of being pivotal ” (123, 37).2 When his sleuthing reveals that Arenaza fell prey to a “honey trap” involving the revenge-seeking Dieste and that behind the plot was an international mercenary named Luis Felipe Buscon (170), Milius knows the “electrifying” feeling of being “back at the center of things” (182). Soon, however, he also becomes the victim of retribution that dates back to his duplicity more than six years earlier with CIA agents Katharine Lanchester and Fortner Grice in A Spy by Nature.3 In common with the politics of grievance, suggests Cumming, espiocracy has its own way of settling scores. The process whereby the novel’s protagonist is led to participate, again, in unprincipled compromise attests to his craven nature. Thus, when Richard Kitson presents himself as associated with MI6, he persuades Alec Milius to collaborate with his undeclared team in apprehending Buscon. Eager to curry favor with SIS, Alec takes the bait and leaps at this second chance to prove his worth to Vauxhall Cross in the “secret game” (193). Ignoring Kitson’s admonition, Milius then visits the just-discovered gravesite of Mikel Arenaza, near which location he is abducted by ETA extremists and subjected to several days of torture before being released. From this harrowing experience as well as from conversations with Patzo 175

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Zulaika, a journalist and fervent Basque sympathizer, Alec gains insight into a surreptitious campaign by right-wing elements in post–Franco Spain who have been waging a “dirty war” against the ETA funded by Aznar’s Interior Ministry. Realizing that exposure of such state-sanctioned terrorism will be catastrophic for allies Tony Blair and George W. Bush, Milius shares his information with Kitson, who asks him to stop seeing Sofía in order to seduce Carmen Arroyo, the lovelorn secretary of a high-level government official. Alec consents to the demeaning role of gigolo, adept as he is in plying his “heartless trade” behind a “screen of deceit” (294), but in the end it turns out that Carmen, an ETA partisan, has instead “played” him. Payback comes full circle in the final two chapters when Katharine Lanchester telephones the protagonist to reveal that the whole CIA operation was an elaborate “‘house of mirrors’” (331) or reverse sting. The more profound humiliation of Alec Milius, however, concerns his relationship with Sofía Church. Possessed with “a default personality set to perfidy and misinformation” (47), he cannot reciprocate emotional commitment, such that, when she unilaterally declares her love for him, Alec experiences merely a “mixture of dread and exhilaration” (149). Paralyzed by instinctive deceit, the hallmark of his chosen vocation as a spy, he can only simulate a human response. “[A] sense of intense regret overcomes me,” Milius belatedly confides, “as I realize that ... my sick little game was just another fix and sham” (311). The consequences of blind ambition in the sphere of espionage, Cumming proposes, are measured most accurately by the degree to which they undermine individual integrity.

The Hidden Man: Fathers and Sons The author’s second novel also addresses the human cost of espionage, framing it in terms of the father-son relationship explored as well in both le Carré’s A Most Wanted Man and Rimington’s Secret Asset. Cumming’s A Spy by Nature hints at this motif in revealing that the father of Alec Milius emigrated from Lithuania to England in 1940, that he became a close friend of SIS agent Michael Hawkes before the latter’s posting to Moscow in the 1960s, and that he was often away from home before his 176

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death when Alec was 17 years old (5, 7, 78). The absent paternal figure employed in the service of Queen and country abroad may thus be a shadowy prototype for retired MI6 officer Christopher Keen, who at age 60 is “the hidden man” of Cumming’s title. Without naming him as the victim (he figures simply as “the Englishman” [8]), the narrative opens with a vignette of Keen’s assassination in London. Immediately, in other words, the text signals the erasure of identity pursuant to a lifetime of involvement in clandestinity. That the assassin is an ex–KGB operative, subsequently named Dimitri Kostov, who is avenging the loss of his son Mischa some 20 years earlier while the young soldier was a British informant in Afghanistan further suggests how one generation’s misdeeds incur inevitable, though in this case delayed, retribution. Fathers and sons, whether English or Russian, are consequently locked into a spiral of offsetting reprisal because of their investment in Cold War scenarios of global opposition. After this framing event the text backtracks a few months to develop Christopher Keen’s efforts at establishing a connection with his sons after basically abandoning them in 1976. Their divergent responses to his overtures reflect the emotional schism he has sown. Mark, the older of the two brothers and senior executive of a nightclub chain, has effected a reconciliation, whereas artist Ben harbors a deep resentment against the father whom he regards as having callously deserted their deceased mother. At this point The Hidden Man multiplies the plot’s behind-the-scenes convolutions. Because MI5 suspects Libra, the entertainment company for which Mark works, of money-laundering for the Russian mafia, primarily as orchestrated by corrupt lawyer Thomas Macklin, its lead investigator, Stephen Taploe, solicits the assistance of Christopher Keen in drawing out his first-born son regarding “‘a family matter’” (27). True to his former profession in “a separate world of deliberate masquerade” (49), though he now works for Divisar Corporate Intelligence, the father probes Mark regarding Libra’s possible complicity with Viktor Kukushkin, head of a Russian crime syndicate, all the while encouraging Mark to broker a rapprochement with the still hostile Ben. Neither venture is productive, however, and shortly afterwards the senior Mr. Keen is murdered at his Paddington flat. Putative distinctions between the private and professional spheres, as 177

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traced in Greene’s The Human Factor, are already being shown as highly tenuous, but Cumming’s The Hidden Man takes this dynamic a step beyond the pattern found in his precursors. Through Mark and Ben’s being allured by “the thrill of the son initiated into his father’s secret trade” (195), he demonstrates how the devotion to “a constant duplicity” bequeaths a filial legacy of ongoing betrayal and victimization. These factors come into play after Christopher Keen’s funeral when Robert Bone, a former CIA agent who knew their father in Afghanistan during the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, sends the two brothers a detailed letter identifying Dimitri Kostov as Christopher’s killer. The original printouts of Bone’s exposé disappear, intercepted we later learn by SIS-contracted burglars, but not before Ben has had an opportunity to read the document. In the meantime Mark has consented to deployment by MI5 in order to verify whether his boss at Libra, entrepreneur Sebastian Roth, is a silent partner in the Kukushkin syndicate’s money-laundering scheme. Having discovered that he has “an aptitude for spying, a talent for secrecy and sleight of hand” that “ran in the family” (247), the eldest Keen son becomes a casualty. His cover blown, Mark is shot to death by order of Vladimir Tamarov, head of Russian organized crime in the United Kingdom, en route to a meeting near Heathrow Airport. While all these events are transpiring, Ben has been duped by Jock McCreery, supposedly “his father’s oldest friend from his days in MI6” (139), into believing that Robert Bone’s letter was a fabrication. Realizing his credulity too late, the younger son is disabused of the deception just as his brother is driving off to the fatal rendezvous with Tamarov. Behind all the intricate machinations that ensnare The Hidden Man’s main characters are Thames House and Vauxhall Cross, the symbolic citadels of state security that are maneuvering at cross-purposes throughout the novel. MI5’s investigation of Roth is concerned solely with unraveling illicit business subterfuges. Christopher Keen’s murder, therefore, is simply a temporary setback that Taploe can exploit to recruit Mark by means of “the power afforded by privileged information” (187). MI6, on the other hand, is intent on “protect[ing] the public reputation of British Intelligence” by “disguis[ing] the fact that a renegade KGB officer was killing its former associates” (365). Just as importantly, until the very end when it has no other choice, SIS has elected not to inform MI5 that it has been 178

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“running” Roth, whose father is a Tory peer in the House of Lords, for the past three years. For these sister agencies alike, then, the deaths of Christopher and Mark Keen are nothing more than what is euphemistically dismissed as “collateral damage.” Cumming also makes us aware of a “basic antipathy that existed between the organizations” (74), one that has to do with their respective perceptions of class difference. In the eyes of Stephen Taploe, for example, Oxford graduate Christopher Keen represents “a disdainful MI6 toff ” who is “living in an infallible bubble of privilege” (39, 74). Conversely, those affiliated with Vauxhall Cross tend to patronize their counterparts at Thames House. Because of these underlying biases, the two security branches are effectively at loggerheads in refusing to comply with Parliamentary mandates for interagency cooperation. Little apparently has changed since Deighton and le Carré’s early depictions of the same class-related intransigency. The novel’s crowning irony, however, surfaces in its dénouement. Visiting the MI5 team at its headquarters, Jock McCreery and Elizabeth Dulong, the latter being a case officer, essentially dictate a “deal” or “coverup” whereby Roth, Macklin, and Tamarov are granted immunity from legal prosecution (387, 389). Lost in the shuffle of “careers on the skids, of buck-passing and the covering of backs” (384), is moral responsibility for the assassinations of two of their countrymen. A brief coda reveals that Dimitri Kostov is executed in the woods outside Moscow, balancing the thriller’s opening vignette, but the stage is then set for the current order of international espiocracy to resume its usual ways of deception and duplicity. By way of comparison with A Spy by Nature and The Spanish Game, Cumming’s second novel gives less priority to “the trickeries and evasions of conversation [whereby] men reveal themselves,” emphasizing instead the Cold War’s generational legacy within a fragmented British family. For this reason, and also because The Hidden Man seems intent on discovering what accounts for the appeal of espionage to a fatherless son, it constitutes an intriguing update to le Carré’s A Perfect Spy. Although Christopher Keen outwardly is nothing like Magnus Pym’s rogue progenitor, he typifies a similar mindset that gives priority to the art of dissimulation over the bond of personal commitment. Implicit here are unanswered questions about the psychosocial sources of this magnetic attraction, but Cumming 179

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declines to address such issues — and perhaps, given his chosen genre’s limitations, wisely so. That which he prefers to examine is the world’s contemporary stage, particularly those sectors of simmering conflict that have been overlooked in the wake of 9/11 and its subsequent ramifications.

Typhoon: Xinjiang Province In a June 2008 feature for Shots Ezine, the United Kingdom’s premier website for coverage of crime and thriller writing, Cumming recounts how after The Spanish Game he was planning to draft “a kidnap drama set in Colombia” when a senior publisher at Penguin urged him instead to undertake a book about the “War on Terror” in Iraq. Sensing that the market was already glutted with such material, Cumming began to contemplate a novel that would open with Hong Kong’s imminent handover to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 30 June 1997. A subsequent conversation with journalist Oliver August during a research trip to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and the former British colony helped to determine the project’s larger conception: I discovered that roughly half of the population of Xinjiang was Uighur-Muslim, which chimed with the debate about Islam raging in the West. From this flowed the idea of an American-sponsored coup d’état in the region. If Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld were prepared to land-grab Iraq in order to get their hands on Saddam’s oil, it followed, at least in a metaphorical sense, that they might be interested in getting their hands on Xinjiang. I had my story [“Charles Cumming”].

Typhoon thus took shape by focusing on China’s far northwestern province as a neglected theater of indigenous political tensions that paralleled contemporaneous events then transpiring in Iraq. Wanting to “find a way of dramatising the relationship between the Blair government and the Bush administration,” Cumming adds that he devised the main characters, Joe Lennox and Miles Coolidge, as respectively a “cerebral ... British spy under deep cover in Hong Kong” and a brash CIA exponent of “neoconservative America in the age of al-Qaeda.” Woven into their interactions at every turn is the dynamic of duplicity, though primarily at the level of action rather than diegetic exchange. 180

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Lennox is easily the more likable of the two men, not least because, unlike Alec Milius, he is principled and selfless. “Talent-spotted” by MI6 upon his graduation from Oxford University where he studied Mandarin (20), Joe at age 24 is assigned to an enviable position in Hong Kong, but in certain respects he is still dangerously naïve. “Secrecy appealed to something in Joe’s nature,” observes narrator William Lasker, “a facet of his personality that the spooks at Vauxhall Cross had recognized instantly, but which he himself had not yet fully come to understand” (22). We thus have a continuation of both Alec Milius and Mark Keen’s earlier stories, though without the looming influence of an absentee father.4 Shortly thereafter Cumming indicates why Lennox is at risk of betrayal through his own basic decency: One of the more potent myths of the secret world, put about by spy writers and journalists and excitable TV dramas, is that members of the intelligence community struggle constantly with the moral ambiguity of their trade. This may be true of a few broken reeds, most of whom are quietly shown the door, but Joe lost little sleep over the fact that his life in Hong Kong was an illusion. He had adjusted easily to the secret existence, as if he had found his natural vocation. He loved the work, he loved the environment, he loved the feeling of playing a pivotal role in the covert operations of the state [24–25].

The figure who takes advantage of the protagonist’s investment in SIS secrecy is 37-year-old “Cousin”5 Miles Coolidge, for whom nearly all relationships are driven by the need for domination and conquest. He is, reports Lasker, “the Yank of your dreams and nightmares”: “He was a friend and an enemy, an asset and a problem. He was an American” (40). The narrator then expands his profile of Coolidge: ... I have never known a man so rigorous in the satisfaction of his appetites, so comfortable in the brazenness of his behaviour and so contemptuous of the moral censure of others. He was the living, breathing antithesis of the Puritan streak in the American character.... ... In spite of all that he had achieved, there is no question in my mind that Miles was jealous of Joe: jealous of his youth, his background as a privileged son of England.... Everything that was appealing about Joe — his decency, his intelligence, his loyalty and charm — was taken as a personal affront by the always competitive Coolidge, who saw himself as a working-class boy made good whose progress through life had been stymied at every turn by an Ivy League/WASP conspiracy of which Joe would one day almost certainly become a part [39, 41–42].

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The grounds for this one-sided resentment are pure nonsense, as the text goes on to assert, but Cumming demonstrates how such a rivalry impinges on Anglo-American cooperation at the international level. By craftily subverting Joe’s cover identity, Coolidge also manages to derail Lennox’s intended proposal of marriage to Isabella Aubert on wui gwai, the date of Hong Kong’s transfer to the PRC, and subsequently win her over as his wife. The result is a ten-year-long breach in these male figures’ professional careers while they address supposedly shared concerns. In a short interview for Publishers Weekly, Cumming told Allen Appel that his fourth novel was “heavily influenced by what le Carré had done in The Constant Gardener” (“Spy vs. Spy”). Presumably such modeling is reflected in the fact that Typhoon has a similarly exotic setting, one also riven by the exploitive intrusion of First World interests, and that within this context plays out a fated love story. If so, however, the depiction of Joe Lennox’s infatuation with Isabella Aubert and her unhappy marriage to Miles Coolidge after she discovers Joe’s covert activities as a British spy is a far cry from Justin and Tessa Quayle’s commitment to one another. Using some of the same formal elements as le Carré, Cumming does not explore how such a transcendent bond eclipses the hypocrisy of England’s diplomatic establishment and its collusion in espionage; instead, he examines how an overarching framework of practiced deception encroaches on and ultimately destroys prospects for personal fulfillment. It thus makes sense that, unlike the author of The Constant Gardener, Cumming is principally concerned with investigating a global conspiracy at work in Xinjiang Province on the eve of a world-changing shift in post–Cold War brinkmanship. Typhoon presents the tangled complexities of this proxy conflict in great detail, so much so that they overshadow and even usurp his narrative’s romantic dimension. At the heart of this geopolitical plot is Wang Kaixuan, a Han academician at the University of Xinjiang who has swum across Dapeng Bay to persuade the British to intervene in the PRC’s oppression of its Uighur minority and whom Joe Lennox interviews early in the novel. Wang subsequently is recruited by Miles Coolidge in 1997 and sent back to mainland China in order to foment, under the cryptonym of TYPHOON, a separatist revolution leading to an independent Eastern Turkistan. Backing this labyrinthine scheme for destabilizing the PRC are 182

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ex–Cold War “hawk” William Marston, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense; Michael Lambert, Chief Financial Officer of the Macklinson Corporation; Josh Pinnegar, a field officer for the Central Intelligence Agency; and Kenneth Lenan, an SIS second-in-command bribed into participation for $50,000 a month. Motivated solely by future profit from untapped oil and gas reserves in Xinjiang, this cabal sets about instigating a terrorist insurgency. TYPHOON goes disastrously awry, however, by 2001 when the PRC’s Ministry of State Security, having discovered the rogue CIA plot, executes nineteen Uighur activists and expels several covert operatives. Shortly thereafter the Chinese negotiate a quid pro quo that eventually results in the brutal revenge killings of Pinnegar and Lenan in exchange for Macklinson’s stake of 26 percent in the Yakera-Dalaoba gas field. Whatever their tactical failures, such ill-conceived blueprints for regime destabilization have an uncanny power of resurrection when encouraged, as Cumming mentions, by the likes of Donald Rumsfeld as President George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense. The novel’s third part, which comprises nearly half of its length, thus elaborates TYPHOON’s reactivation by a right-wing Pentagon faction in 2005 during the long run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. When Joe Lennox, bored with a current posting in London, is approached by his MI6 “surrogate father” David Waterfield and enticed by the prospect of redeployment in the Far East (255), he promptly acquiesces because of an emotional need to reconnect with Isabella. The protagonist, described as an “old-fashioned servant of the state who still believed ... in the primacy of Western values” (261), accepts reassignment to Shanghai under the guise of a disaffected former agent now employed by Quayler Pharmaceuticals. (Note in this ironic conflation a wry nod to The Constant Gardener.) What Lennox officially has been commissioned to discover is Miles Coolidge’s plans for a renascent TYPHOON, but in the process of pursuing this agenda he also comes face to face with a former adversary whose “eyes had gone. Age had beaten the truth out of them: they were now just sockets of greed and lies” (336). Disenchantment pervades the narrative’s final pages. After realizing how Coolidge’s intrinsic corruption had caught up with him, Cumming’s hero learns from a now-disillusioned Wang Kaixuan, whose son was executed as a result of the previous TYPHOON campaign, that its resurgency 183

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involved nothing more than U.S. manipulation for its own selfish interests. He thus says to Lennox: ... America understands that the Games of 2008 represent an opportunity for the People’s Republic to present a civilized face to the world. Think of it as a coming-out party.... In three years’ time, China wishes to announce itself as a superpower competing on an equal footing with the United States of America. ... There can be only one superpower. There is no place for China at the top table [394].

With the assistance of conscience-stricken Shahpour Moazed, a Muslim Iranian-American repulsed by his CIA handler’s venality, Joe Lennox verifies that Miles Coolidge is spearheading a four-person Uighur “sleeper” cell whose long-range goal is a terrorist incident at the Beijing Olympics. Neither Lennox nor Moazed knows, however, that leader Ablimit Celil is a trained partisan of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence who, distrusting Coolidge’s postponement of action and despising his code of values, has betrayed him by plotting a coordinated bombing of two iconic sites in Shanghai — the Paradise City multiplex cinema and Larry’s Bar. Both disasters are narrowly averted in the novel’s climax, with hundreds of lives saved thanks to Joe Lennox’s heroism, but in the end nothing has changed because the underlying forces are just “‘a new version of the Great Game’” (445; see also 497). All these interlinked reversals suggest the poisonous legacy of ideologically sanctioned espionage. Cumming develops his text’s political critique largely through its scaffolding — that is, his decision to employ a first-person journalist narrator by the name of William Lasker who from 1992 to 2005 was an SIS support agent under the direction of friend Joe Lennox. In a recent interview with Sonya Green, the author admitted that his initial attempt to write Typhoon in the third person “felt very dry” until he discovered the utility of this peripheral character: “As soon as Lasker started ‘talking,’ the novel came alive for me.” Although he sometimes reports more than his role as an occasional participant in the novel’s action would permit him to know,6 Lasker is invited in the final chapter to write a book that will expose how “Lenan’s murder, Celil’s involvement with the [Uighur] cell, [and] the plan to bomb the Olympics” were “cooked up by a cluster of hawks in the Pentagon, most of them the same bunch of 184

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fanatics who had made such a mess of things in Iraq” (495–96). Lasker’s book, of course, is Cumming’s fourth novel, which by this conventional ruse is able to comment on the Bush administration’s foreign policies and China’s emerging challenge to the United States as a global superpower. How, then, does Typhoon stack up against antecedent productions within its genre? In a concise review for the Times Literary Supplement, without drawing comparisons, Toby Lichtig pronounced it “slickly paced and crafted with panache.” While his observation (happily) does not proclaim a new successor to John le Carré, it does recognize that this ephebe, in Harold Bloom’s terminology, has mastered the Byzantine convolutions in terms of which espionage fiction lays bare the tenuous foundation of the West’s historical faith in ratiocination. For this reason, if no other, Charles Cumming’s novels deserve critical notice. Though in Typhoon he subordinates the dialogism of “a constant duplicity” to the demands of a more encompassing plot construct, he yet remains focused on the deceptions that perpetuate what Rudyard Kipling famously celebrated in a far different era. In their noteworthy 1987 study of espionage fiction, John G. Cawelti and Bruce A. Rosenberg maintained, “After Graham Greene allowed us to see that no side was distinctly better than any other, the confrontation in spy novels was necessarily between individuals and their agencies” (196). Their comment rings at least partly true with respect to Cumming’s thrillers thus far in his career as a fabulist. Without a doubt he continues the streak of robust skepticism regarding all state-sponsored intelligence bureaus that one finds everywhere in the genre during the 1960s and 1970s. His 2008 narrative mines this vein by casting Joe Lennox, born in the same year as the novelist (see Typhoon 233), in the mold of a dubious son who nonetheless sustains an attenuated “faith” in the values of his parents’ generation.7 At the same time Cumming seems to be of the opinion that, because the impulse toward duplicity and guile is so deeply ingrained, ideology will always be a convenient excuse for the continued flourishing of espionage networks. Certainly in a world no longer bifurcated by the opposed camps of capitalism and communism, however disposed reactionary politicians might be to projecting a post–9/11 “Axis of Evil,” Cumming realizes that there exist multiple markets and multiple fronts for the clandestine business of intelligence-gathering. 185

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At the end of his 2008 Shots Ezine feature, Cumming disclosed that his next undertaking will be a novel about the Cambridge spies, which he subsequently has decided to title The Trinity Six. His choice of this subject is not altogether surprising since these fiercely intelligent and ambitious double agents who attended Cambridge University during the early 1930s surface via allusion in each of his four novels to date. Harking back to A Spy by Nature, in which Alec Milius compares himself to all the cell’s members except Anthony Blunt, Cumming clearly wishes to account for the watershed circumstances that fostered their divided loyalties. In his aforementioned interview with Sonya Green, however, the novelist also reveals that he was “lucky enough to be passed a wealth of material on Anthony Blunt, much of which has not been published before,” and that his forthcoming narrative will involve a contemporary British historian “put on the trail of a 93-year-old man who claims to be the close friend and confidant of the sixth Cambridge spy.” Some mysteries, it seems, never die. Implicit in this commentary is the intimation that Cumming is privy to privileged and previously undisclosed information, thereby blurring the permeable boundary between fact and fiction while also whetting the reading public’s fascination with the Secret State’s covert operations. In this too the author figures as a discerning student of his elected genre. That we resonate with the drama of his first four espionage thrillers, whatever their anchorage in factuality or documentary “truth,” is itself proof of his skills as a successor to le Carré, Deighton, and Hall. Because British espionage fiction has always finessed this interstitial terrain to its advantage, Charles Cumming in tapping into its potential deserves respect for his savvy artistry. One can only hope that, given other less accomplished claimants to le Carré’s distinction, he will continue to expand and enrich the literary mode’s penchant for the subtleties of indirect narration.

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Afterword: A Non-Conclusion Writing in 1996, halfway through a decade in which Doreen Carvajal reported for the New York Times that the bookselling market was “colder than a Siberian winter for espionage tales,” political scientist Thomas J. Price speculated on whether the world’s post–Cold War architecture was “changing from a nation-state system into something else as yet not well formed” (88). That it altered radically after the traumatic events of 9/11 goes without saying. The upshot for British spy fiction has been a period of experimentation in coming to terms with this cataclysm and its implications for understanding a New World Order, if that phrase makes sense any more, in which power is no longer exclusively vested in, limited to, or exercised by the governments of discrete nation-states. Those of us who reside in the West were forced to recognize that we had been precipitated abruptly into an international Age of Terrorism, one that had been brewing for some time in Third World and Middle Eastern countries. It came as a shock, of course, and ever since then we have struggled to fathom how all this came to pass. Thanks in part to the heuristic narratives of Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Len Deighton, John le Carré, Stella Rimington, and Charles Cumming, we can draw on the insight that for too long the antipodes of West and East were seduced by a fixation with the binary construct of “Us” versus “Them,” while much of the rest of the planet was rejecting such hegemonic categories. What this belated discovery has entailed for Westerners is the painful lesson that their preconceptions of being insulated from a rising tide of world events were wholly deluded. No longer are there, if indeed there ever were, buffer zones that can guarantee safety or immunity. As Greene remarked in The Lawless Roads, “The world is all of 187

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a piece” (29), and the battlefield fluctuates without respecting the cartography of national borders. In this regard W. Somerset Maugham’s retrospective preface to Ashenden: or, The British Agent, which he composed shortly after the end of World War II, was prescient. Although it is clear that his thinking was informed by a recently emergent duality in terms of ideological adversaries, Maugham yet predicted the following: [T]here will always be espionage[,] and there will always be counter-espionage. Though conditions may have altered, though difficulties may be greater, when war is raging, there will always be secrets which one side jealously guards and which the other will use every means to discover; there will always be men who from malice or for money will betray their kith and kin[;] and there will always be men who, from love of adventure or a sense of duty, will risk a shameful death to secure information valuable to their country [xii–xiii].

The unveiling of “secrets” and privileged “information,” whatever other changes on the world’s stage, thus figures as the engine that drives the spy’s relevance in an age when the mechanisms of daily surveillance and decentralized panopticism — whether at ATMs, department stores, or traffic intersections — are omnipresent. At the same time, strangely militating against the enduring appeal of espionage fiction generally is a prevailing mood of apocalypticism throughout the West. Manifest at least in the United States by the popularity of films such as 2012 (2009), television shows such as Life after People or The Colony, novels such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), and a widespread fascination with Mayan eschatology, not to mention religious commentary on supposedly imminent “End Times,” the culture’s temper seems reconciled to the inevitability of continuous entropy and civilization’s collapse. On the one hand, despair of this magnitude correlates with spy fiction’s exploration of clandestine conspiracies that subvert individual agency. On the other hand, it ignores the genre’s less prominent celebration of those who succeed in transcending these constraints, despite what Michel Foucault terms the “disindividualiz[ing] power” of the regulatory nationstate (202), by asserting the primacy of an independent code of values. We are left, then, with something of a draw, which is why I have designated this summation a “Non-Conclusion.” How does such a literary mode, committed to a twofold vision of this kind, address a world in which suicide bombers, indoctrinated by an aberrant interpretation of the Koran, 188

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murder hundreds of presumed infidels and in response to which assaults a Western superpower, itself complicit in creating the offenders’ safe havens in the name of “nation-building” after World War II, carpet-bombs mountain strongholds by way of punitive retaliation? What in this scenario constitutes the abstraction of justice? Can one side pretend that its principles remain uncorrupted when, invoking the same ethic of expediency as its opponent, it adopts similar methods and means? More directly pertinent to the present study’s scope, can the espionage-centered novel flourish during an age when the world’s architecture has changed so dramatically? Such questions remind us again that the genre’s historical origins coincided with growing challenges to and tensions within the framework of colonial imperialism in the late nineteenth century. Yumna Siddiqi recently has pointed out that by 1900, when “Britain’s power extended beyond national boundaries to over 13 million square miles and roughly 366 million people” (17), early detective and spy tales proliferated to illustrate the sovereignty of Enlightenment rationalism over subalterns’ discontent while also registering “a current of anxiety about incursions from Empire, and its influence upon the established pattern of English life.” She goes on to write: “Articulated as a concern about the instability of individual identity, the disintegration of the social and moral order, and the eruption of crime and violence, this vein of anxiety runs below the surface and emerges in certain discernible patterns in popular literature of Empire, notwithstanding its largely jingoistic tone” (18). Siddiqi further proposes that during this era what she terms the “fiction of intrigue” projects “fantasies of imperial order that imaginatively recapture the lost agency and puissance of the Western subject in the well-disciplined metropolis, and that compensate for the insufficiency and ineffectuality of disciplinary power in a rapidly expanding, heterogeneous imperial world” (25–26).1 As ascendant nation-states’ bureaucratized apparatus of intelligence-gathering began to supplant the efficacy of individual agency, in other words, much contemporaneous fiction nostalgically sought to perpetuate the vanishing construct of a bygone age. Even in their generative context, therefore, British espionage tales are characterized by a double vision. Despite the genre’s intermittent exemption of such le Carréan heroes as Alec Leamas, Justin Quayle, and Tommy Brue, all of whom succeed in escaping the morally compromising trammels 189

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of espiocracy’s far-flung nets, most of its protagonists become casualties of dispossession and corporate duplicity. Victimization is deeply interwoven in this literary mode’s “sacrificial logic” (Hepburn 18). What this pattern bodes for its future, however, is less certain. Reflecting on “the current era of globalization” pursuant to 9/11, Siddiqi maintains that it “marks a new form of Empire, one that is deterritorialized and decentered,” while being stamped by “new forms of sovereignty” (2). She does not hesitate to posit that this recrudescence is a consequence of the Bush/Blair “War on Terror” that signals, from her perspective, a reactivation of old formulas for imperialistic expansionism and interventionism (see, for example, 136). Whether we credit this critic’s judgment or not, the fact remains that much recent spy fiction focuses on outlying or peripheral nation-states where the ramifications of what once was a narrowly ideological conflict continue to surface. As a guide to our present circumstances, it also would appear that we have little to learn from archival research. On 23 September 2010, for example, Keith Jeffery, Professor of British History at Queen’s University in Belfast, released his tome titled The Secret History of MI6 which, drawing on SIS documents spanning the years from 1909 to 1949, confirms the long-suspected fact that such literary figures as Greene and Maugham, in addition to Compton Mackenzie and Malcolm Muggeridge, were essentially reluctant spies pressed into the service of Queen and country by wartime exigencies. Between then and now yawns a huge paradigm shift in terms of world affairs. If we no longer inhabit a world that can be plotted by easily demarcated lines of opposition between embattled nation-states, something fundamental has changed. Grappling with uncertainties of this kind more successfully than the classical whodunit, espionage fiction bids farewell, even at its inception, to the Enlightenment dream of ratiocination’s all-mastering sufficiency. It also entails a departure from the timehonored aesthetic of mimesis. The genre uniquely recognizes, as Richard Walsh observes, that “all narrative, fictional and nonfictional, is artifice.” An extrapolation of his point thus holds true: “If the logic of narrative representation does not provide for a defensible distinction between fiction and nonfiction, then the focus of theoretical attention is necessarily displaced from the substance of fictional narrative to the act of fictive narration, from the product to the production of fiction” (14).2 This is what my 190

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book has attempted to elucidate by exploring the covert operations of British espionage fiction’s narrative form. I cannot end, however, without noting yet again the oddity of this popular genre’s marginalization by the gatekeepers of literary respectability. Little seems to have altered since Jacques Barzun’s 1965 article for American Scholar derided the “literature of spying” by declaring that it amounted to “light” and “trashy” fare. In his 2007 analysis titled The Novel Now: Contemporary British Fiction, for instance, Richard Bradford devotes three of his text’s 259 pages to remarking that espionage fiction projects “an aura of tragic hermeticism,” but otherwise he allows the genre to recede into the nebulous hinterland of a catch-all category designated as “crime writing” (109). Dismissals of this kind rehearse a familiar pattern, though one would hope that by now we might have arrived at a broader understanding of how espionage writers intersect with the mainstream of canonical literature. Whatever the pending verdict, British spy fiction figures as an important index to our present age.

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Chapter Notes Introduction 1. The dismissive critique launched in “Meditations on the Literature of Spying” prompts John Atkins to write that “one wonders if Barzun really approves of any novel” (145). 2. I am alluding to his essay titled “Mimesis and Diegesis in Modern Fiction,” which originally appeared in Anthony Mortimer’s edited collection titled Contemporary Approaches to Narrative (Tübingen: Narr, 1984). Since then the piece has been reprinted in Lodge’s After Bakhtin: Essays on Fiction and Criticism (London: Routledge, 1990) as well as in the second edition of Michael J. Hoffman and Patrick D. Murphy’s Essentials of the Theory of Fiction (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996). I rely on the latter text as my source. 3. “We might further characterize these two stories,” elaborates Todorov, “by saying that the first — the story of the crime — tells ‘what really happened,’ whereas the second — the story of the investigation — explains ‘how the reader (or the narrator) has come to know about it.’” Paving the way for Peter Brooks’s more complete discussion of the distinction between fabula or “story” and sjuzet or “discourse” (12–18, 24–27), Todorov then writes: But these definitions concern not only the two stories in detective fiction, but also two aspects of every literary work which the Russian Formalists isolated forty years ago. They distinguished, in fact, the fable (story) from the subject (plot) of a narrative: the story is what has happened in life[;] the plot is the way the author presents it to us. The first notion corresponds to the reality evoked, to events similar to those which take place in our lives; the second, to the book itself, to the narrative, to the literary devices the author employs [45].

Neatly encapsulated in his final sentence is a differentiation between mimesis and diegesis. In an essay titled “Canonization, Modern Literature, and the Detective Story,” originally published in 1997, John G. Cawelti amplifies Todorov’s model of classical detective fiction’s “double structure” by commenting as follows: In essence the detective story constitutes a mythos or fable in which crime, as a distinctive problem of bourgeois, individualistic, and quasi-democratic societies, is handled without upsetting society’s fundamental institutions or its world-view. When he/she solves the crime, the detective reaffirms the fundamental soundness of the social order by revealing how the crime has resulted from the specific and understandable motives of particular individuals; crime happens but is not ... endemic to the society. In other words, the detective reveals to us by his actions that society, however corrupt or unjust it may seem, still contains the intelligence and the means to define and exorcize these evils [Mystery 286].

This pattern admittedly changes, however, in the postmodern literature of detection by such seminal authors as Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, and Thomas Pynchon. 4. Prolepsis, stipulates Genette, designates “any narrative maneuver that consists of narrating or evoking in advance an event that will take place later,” whereas analepsis refers to “any evocation after the fact of an event that took place earlier than the point in the story where we are at any given moment” (Narrative Discourse 40).

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Notes — Chapter 1 5. Richard Usborne coined this apt term in his 1953 book titled Clubland Heroes: A Nostalgic Study of Some Recurrent Characters in the Romantic Fiction of Dornford Yates, John Buchan, and Sapper. 6. In this regard see Joseph S. Meisel’s “The Germans Are Coming! British Fiction of a German Invasion, 1871–1913.” Meisel concludes that “one of the most striking common threads of invasion fiction” is “the discomfort the authors express with Britain’s power and wealth. In lamenting Britain’s military unpreparedness in an increasingly dangerous world, all invasion fictions, in some form, describe their nation as jaded to the point of enervation by its success” (75). 7. By the term “controlling voice” I do not mean to imply Wayne C. Booth’s concept of the “implied author,” which he equates with Kathleen Tillotson’s revival of Edward Dowden’s notion of “the author’s ‘second self ’” in reading George Eliot (71). The implied author, Booth writes, is a persona we infer “as an ideal, literary, created version of the real [author]” (75), whether or not that narrational presence is dramatized within the text (see 151). Richard Walsh recently has suggested, rightly in my opinion, that Booth’s concept subsumes the idea of authorial intention while neglecting “the rhetorical potential generated by ... fictionality as such” (5, 7). What I do wish to signify by “controlling voice,” then, is the extradiegetic narrator whose ventriloquism the fictive discourse conveys as qualitatively separate or distinct from the intratextual voices of other personae. 8. “The word Razumov,” declares the teacher of languages, “was the mere label of a solitary individuality. There were no Razumovs belonging to him anywhere. His closest parentage was defined in the statement that he was a Russian” (10).

Chapter 1 1. In chronological order of their original publication, the ten novels that Vintage reissued between 2001 and 2004 are Background to Danger, Epitaph for a Spy, Cause for Alarm, A Coffin for Dimitrios, Journey into Fear, Judgment on Deltchev, The Schirmer Inheritance, State of Siege, Passage of Arms, and The Light of Day. 2. In a 1975 interview Ambler remarked that “having failed at playwriting, having failed as a songwriter, failed as an engineer, I looked around for something I could change and decided it was the thriller-spy story. I would do something different. The detective story ha[d] been worked over and worked over, but no one had looked at the thriller. It was still a dirty word. So I decided to intellectualize it, insofar as I was able.... I changed the genre and couldn’t write the books fast enough” (“Interview” 286). 3. After publishing his first six novels between 1936 and 1940, Ambler did not release another until 1951. During that hiatus he was made Assistant Director of Army Cinematography by the British War Office, in which capacity he wrote, besides dozens of training and propaganda films, the screenplay for Carol Reed’s The Way Ahead (1944) in collaboration with Peter Ustinov. After World War II ended, Ambler worked with director David Lean on Passionate Friends (1949), an adaptation of H. G. Wells’s novel, and three years later with Ronald Neame on The Card, based on Arnold Bennett’s novel. His subsequent film and television credits include The Cruel Sea (1953), The Purple Plain (1954), A Night to Remember (1958), Checkmate (1960–62), and Topkapi (1964). My purpose in tracing this background is simply to suggest that Ambler’s success in the field of visual media honed his predilection for diegetic devices in fiction. The distinction between mimesis and diegesis has a far wider application in film studies than in literary criticism. See, for example, the opening chapters of David Bordwell’s Narration in the Fiction Film titled “Mimetic Theories of Narration” (3–15) and “Diegetic Theories of Narration” (16–26).

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Notes — Chapter 2 4. Six years before republication of his Dr. Czissar vignettes in 1991, Ambler used this same phrase in his autobiography to describe the period leading up to the declarations of hostility that precipitated World War II (Here Lies 155). This detail corroborates Ambler’s attunement to a time when “detective stories were more respectable than thrillers” (Here Lies 159) and when Vadassy discovers a predilection for “lies and more lies” on all sides (Epitaph 257). 5. Initially the narrator describes Latimer’s interest in Dimitrios as simply a disinterested “experiment in detection,” a phrase repeated four times in less than sixty pages (34, 39, 56, 65). That pretense begins to dissolve, however, when Latimer, while retracing Dimitrios’ criminal enterprises from one world capital to the next, meets with a Marxist journalist named Marukakis in Sofia and admits: As you know, I write detective stories. I told myself that if, for once, I tried doing some detecting myself instead of merely writing about other people doing it, I might get some interesting results.... I did not care to admit to myself then that my interest [had] nothing to do with detection. It is difficult to explain, but I see now that my curiosity about Dimitrios was that of the biographer rather than of the detective. There was an emotional element in it, too. I wanted to explain Dimitrios, to account for him, to understand his mind. Merely to label him with disapproval was not enough. I saw him ... not as an isolate, a phenomenon, but as a unit in a disintegrating social system [82–83].

Not taken in by the former political economist’s intellectualized self-justification, Marukakis responds: “‘You deceive yourself. You hope au fond that by rationalizing Dimitrios, by explaining him, you will also explain that disintegrating social system you spoke about’” (83). Only later does the narrator, mimicking Latimer’s own reflections, remark: “That stuff about impersonal experiments in detection was nonsense and always had been nonsense.... His interest in Dimitrios had already become an obsession” (140). 6. Reflecting back on his political stance in the late 1930s, Ambler remarked to interviewer Joel Hopkins: “I suppose theoretically I was a socialist. Anyway, I was certainly anti-fascist, but that was an easy thing to be. Anybody can be anti-fascist. It’s being pro something that’s difficult.” Regarding Marx and Engels’ ideology, Ambler then added, “[T]he dialectic[al] view of history was something I found difficult to swallow, because it wasn’t the way I read history” (“Interview” 287). 7. Judgment on Deltchev, State of Siege, and The Light of Day, like Epitaph for a Spy, use a first-person narrator recounting a past experience. The Schirmer Inheritance and Passage of Arms rely on an omniscient third-person point of view, though the latter novel dispenses with a central character and thereby permits a multiplicity of perspectives within the text. 8. The two passages that Latimer deleted in his revised first draft appear in the first and third chapters of The Intercom Conspiracy (19, 72–79). At the novel’s end Ambler thus is returning both Carter and us as readers to its beginning, a stratagem that obviously captures his text’s pervasively recursive quality. 9. I am alluding to articles by Simon Caterson, Peter Lewis, and Bo Tao Michaëlis.

Chapter 2 1. Greene seems to have been familiar primarily with Ambler’s first seven thrillers. For the July 1951 issue of The Month, as Norman Sherry mentions in the first volume of his biography, Greene contributed a review of Ambler’s Judgment on Deltchev titled “The Sense of Apprehension” in which he wrote: “The cinema has taught him speed and clarity, the revealing gesture. When he generalizes it is as though a camera were taking a panning shot and drawing evidence from face after face” (qtd. in 1:415). The same diegetic technique, comments Sherry, is what Greene also learned from cinema.

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Notes — Chapter 2 2. A case in point is Murray Roston’s recent Graham Greene’s Narrative Strategies: A Study of the Major Novels, which assumes without much explanatory justification that the “major” texts are The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, The End of the Affair, A Burnt-Out Case, The Comedians, The Honorary Counsul, and Monsignor Quixote. Also released in 2006 was Bernard Bergonzi’s A Study in Greene: Graham Greene and the Art of the Novel, which maintains that “the novels and ‘entertainments’ up to and including The End of the Affair are what Greene most deserves to be remembered for, even allowing for elements that are immature and unconvincing” (8). Bergonzi’s judgment is the less representative of scholarly consensus today. 3. The trope of D.’s pathogenic “infection” is repeated ten times in the novel (16, 19, 39, 40, 52, 54, 69, 116, 190, 244), most often in the long first part titled “The Hunted.” Generally it denotes a conviction of intrinsic guilt and corruption. Greene makes the disease metaphor more specific in having D. say, “‘I ought to wear a bell like the old lepers’” (16), and subsequently remarking, “Like a typhoid-carrier he was responsible for the death of strangers” (116). 4. Nowhere in Sherry’s three-volume biography does he address Greene’s familiarity with Kafka’s fiction. However, when Jeanine Delpech asked during a 1946 interview, “‘Is it true, as some would have it, that you have been strongly influenced by Kafka?’” Greene responded: “‘I’ve read several of his books[,] and I admire him. But our critics like to find him everywhere. They have found my designation of the hero by a single initial in The Confidential Agent “Kafkaesque.” The truth is that I did not wish to specify, by the use of a Spanish or German surname, the imaginary country in which the action unfolds in that novel which was written in 1939 in an atmosphere of war’” (“Graham Greene in Paris” 72). Three years later, while speaking with Père Jouve and Marcel Moré, he adhered to the same general line: “‘I have not been much influenced by [Dostoevsky ...]. The same is true of Kierkegaard and Kafka. If there is a similarity between my work and theirs, it is a result solely of circumstances, of the climate issuing from the war’” (“Table Talk” 21–22). Greene was notorious for his disingenuousness with interviewers. 5. I am indebted to Peter Wolfe’s Graham Greene: The Entertainer for drawing my attention to this paragraph’s proleptic significance (95). 6. Given Greene’s rejoinder to Marcel Moré cited at the beginning of this chapter, Elliott Malamet’s use of the terms “thriller” and “detective story” as interchangeable is problematic in The World Remade: Graham Greene and the Art of Detection (5). 7. Greene’s imagery apparently was influenced by Erik R. von Kuhnelt-Leddihn’s spy novel titled The Gates of Hell that he reviewed for the 15 December 1933 issue of The Spectator after finishing It’s a Battlefield. The following excerpt constitutes an interesting gloss on Greene’s reflection in The Lawless Roads: “The enemy is encamped not only in front of us, but within us, so that our battle-front is doubled.... And the saddest part of it is that we are all merely a fragment of a sector of the infinite firing-line; we never see the shots; somewhere or other we find ourselves placed in the firing-line; we battle for a few decades; and then in some way or other we go down under the fire” (qtd. in Sherry 2:482). 8. “Chromium,” for Greene, reverberated with pejorative connotations. In The Lawless Roads, for example, he concedes that although he “loathed Mexico ... there were worse places,” such as North America, which “wasn’t evil, it wasn’t anything at all[;] it was just the drugstore and the Coca-Cola, the hamburger, the sinless graceless chromium world” (180). 9. For this reason I find it difficult to credit William M. Chace’s argument that “the spy, in Greene’s work and elsewhere in fiction, is glamorous. He represents an unattainable world of clear and decisive action, total control and perfect authority” (163). 10. Apropos of this point, Roger Sharrock, while briefly discussing Our Man in Havana,

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Notes — Chapter 2 quotes Alfred Kazin’s remark in Contemporaries (1962) that “the Khruschev-Dulles age lends itself not to dread but to farce. Our plight is now so universal and at the same time so unreal that the age of anxiety has turned into the age of absurdity” (221). 11. Brian Lindsay Thomson notes the connection of this geopolitical event to Our Man in Havana in Graham Greene and the Politics of Popular Fiction and Film (147–48). I am indebted to this source for pointing out the pertinence of the Suez Crisis to Greene’s seventeenth novel. 12. When interviewer Christopher Burstall asked Greene in 1968, “How much does loyalty matter to you?” he was told: “I think loyalty to individuals, to people, means a lot to me. I don’t feel a strong necessity for loyalty to an organisation, a faith or a country” (“Graham Greene Takes” 58). 13. Of the passage in Robert Browning’s “Bishop Blougram’s Apology” (lines 395–400) where this phrase appears, Greene remarks in A Sort of Life that it could well serve as an epigraph for all his novels (85). He expands on its import for him in a conversation with Marie-Françoise Allain: “‘The dangerous edge of things’ remains what it always has been — the narrow boundary between loyalty and disloyalty, between fidelity and infidelity, the mind’s contradictions, the paradox one carries within oneself ” (21). 14. Cervantes, maintains Henry L. Shapiro, is “the great figure in the background” of “Greene’s literary metaphysics” in Our Man in Havana, “with [Miguel de] Unamuno as a secondary influence” (“Infidel” 91). Both of these earlier writers contributed to Greene’s comic vision in Monsignor Quixote (1982). 15. This letter of 1948 was published in Why Do I Write? An Exchange of Views between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, and V. S. Pritchett (46–52). That the convictions it expresses amounted to an enduring precept for Greene is attested not only by his reprising the document in lightly edited form for the Shakespeare Prize ceremony but also by two other iterations. In a 1957 interview, responding to Philip Toynbee’s query “But wouldn’t you say that it is one of the writer’s jobs not to forget?” he answered, “Yes, it is. It’s also the writer’s job to try to engage people’s sympathy for characters who are outside the official range of sympathy. For the traitor[,] for example” (125). Then, more than three years after his Hamburg address, Greene allowed The Observer to reprint his speech in its 24 December 1972 issue. 16. “The less he needed Louise,” writes Greene, “the more conscious he became of his responsibility for her happiness. When he called her name he was crying like Canute against a tide — the tide of her melancholy and disappointment” (12). Much later in The Heart of the Matter its author makes clear the corrosive effect of the sentiment that Scobie has permitted to replace love: “Pity smouldered like decay at his heart. He would never rid himself of it. He knew from experience how passion died away and how love went, but pity always stayed. Nothing ever diminished pity. The conditions of life nurtured it” (156). 17. Given the three parallels I have just traced between Greene’s two novels, the full context of Shapiro’s assessment deserves notice: “Castle, in fact, is a pathologically grateful person, as Scobie is pathologically full of pity in The Heart of the Matter, and Castle’s obsession with one grand emotion is no more unequivocally noble to Greene than is Scobie’s obsession with another. Both men are half-blinded by their feelings, and their moral vision is consequently far from clear” (“Morality” 100). 18. In the concluding chapter of his book titled Fictional Discourse and Historical Space, Andrew Wright examines how Conrad’s The Secret Agent also informs The Human Factor to suggest various ways in which “the sanctity of personal relations” suffered “debasement” after World War I (101). 19. For directing me to Rees’s critique of Forster’s distinction, I am indebted to Judie Newman’s “Games in Greeneland: The Human Factor” (253). Immediately preceding the

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Notes — Chapter 3 passage that I quote Rees writes, “I said that in the appalling political circumstances under which we lived, to betray one’s country might mean betraying innumerable other friends[,] and it might also mean betraying one’s wife and one’s family.” It would be interesting to know whether this rejoinder to Burgess influenced Greene’s conception of Maurice Castle’s predicament.

Chapter 3 1. See, for example, the verdict of Brett F. Woods, quoted at the end of this chapter, in Neutral Ground: A Political History of Espionage Fiction (120). No doubt the often baffling complexity of Deighton’s plots, through which he compels readers to share his protagonists’ cognitive confusion, accounts for much of this assessment. 2. In “Take That, You Commie Rat! The Cold War’s Imaginary Spies,” John G. Cawelti remarks: The British ended [World War II] in a state of exhaustion, their manpower and resources depleted by six long years of fighting. The British empire, a dominant world political force for over a hundred years, was in the process of dissolution[,] and the British were reluctantly becoming aware that they were doomed to play an increasingly smaller role in world politics. For many Englishmen, the real question was whether the traditional political establishment was competent to lead the country through the difficult times ahead [Mystery 318–19].

Deighton’s Cold War novels are uncannily attuned to this pervasive sense of England’s collapse as a world power and the aftermath of such a cultural realignment. 3. The highly successful film adaptation of the novel, directed by Sidney J. Furie and released in 1965, christened its pseudonymous protagonist “Harry Palmer.” Since then the moniker seems to have stuck. Commenting on how the fictional spy such as Deighton’s hero is “a more complex figure than ... the fictional detective,” Lars Ole Sauerberg writes: “Superficially the secret agent represents a reflection of the uniformity and anonymity of mass society, but underneath he expresses an individualist rebellion against it, hence his pseudo-anonymity” [6]. 4. Edward Lense posits that The Ipcress File’s narrator “puts himself outside stereotyped class boundaries.... His classlessness is part of his overall anonymity” (77). For this critic Harry is an existential hero, not an anti-hero, because he “recognizes the absurdity of his world but acts effectively within it anyway” while “adher[ing] to a coherent (though unarticulated) personal code of honor” (68). In my opinion Lense overstates the degree to which Deighton’s protagonist “acts effectively” amid all the contingencies to which he is exposed. This slant is even more pronounced in Fred Erisman’s article, which argues that The Ipcress File’s agent-narrator “embarks on a quest for personal freedom while continuing to practice his craft.... He sets out to establish his own [Thoreauvian] brand of reality, becoming in the process the Romantic hero in a twentieth-century setting” (101). 5. In Horse Under Water, for example, Deighton’s gritty persona responds to millionaire power-broker and Cabinet Minister Henry J. B. Smith’s blandishments by asserting, “‘No one owns a spy, mister.... They just pay his salary. I work for the government because I think this is a good place to live, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll be used as a serf ’” (141). Further indicative of the narrator’s attitude toward established protocol is this passage from The Ipcress File: It doesn’t take much to make the daily round with one’s employer work smoothly. A couple of “yessirs” when you know that “not on your life” is the thing to say. A few expressions of doubt about things you’ve spent your life perfecting. Forgetting to make use of the information that negates his hastily formed but deliciously convenient theories. It doesn’t take much[,] but it takes about 98. 5 per cent more than I’ve ever considered giving [178].

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Notes — Chapter 3 6. At the same time, however, Harry’s reliance on such relationships is wary. Those that have been established over many years, like his friendship with Charlie Cavendish, are less subject to continuing scrutiny than recent alliances. Thus, although W.O.O.C.(P) has vetted his personal assistant, Harry thinks of her guardedly upon their initial meeting: “I thanked her and handed the card back. It was fine; she was fine, my very first beautiful spy, always presuming of course that this was Jean Tonnesen’s card, and presuming that this was Jean Tonnesen” (141). Even later, after they have become lovers, the narrator wonders whether Jean may not have conspired with Major Dalby to frame him, though he “could remember not telling her a damned thing” (191). Note also that every two months Deighton’s nameless hero updates a secret cache of materials (e.g., passports, clothing, money, Colt .32 automatic) as part of his “spy’s insurance policy” (see 268–69). All these disciplined habits of mind and operational practice signify a quantum generational difference between The Ipcress File’s Harry and The Human Factor’s Maurice Castle, the latter of whom trusts personal relationships implicitly and relies on such outmoded methods of spycraft as book codes. 7. While making his way toward a rendezvous with Jay at the novel’s beginning, for example, Deighton’s narrator describes what he sees in central London: “We walked past grim-faced soldiers in photo-shop windows. Stainless-steel orange squeezers and moronmanipulated pin-tables metronoming away the sunny afternoon in long thin slices of boredom. Through wonderlands of wireless entrails from the little edible condensers to gutted radar receivers for thirty-nine and six” (24). Regarding vapid tabloid stories, Harry reads in the Daily Express: A policeman earning £570 p.a. attacked by youths with knives outside a cinema where a nineteen-year-old rock-an’-roll singer was making a personal appearance for £600. “Would Jim Walker play for Surrey?” There was a picture of Jim Walker, and 600 words. It didn’t say whether he would or not. “Warm sunny weather expected to continue. Cologne and Athens record temperature for time of year” [137].

Finally, concerning the U.S.’s multi-million-dollar “apogee of twentieth-century achievement” constructed on Tokwe Atoll (184), Deighton writes: In ninety days they had equipped the islands with an airfield ...; two athletic fields, two movie theatres, a chapel, a clothing store, beach clubs for officers and enlisted men, a library, hobby shops, vast quarters for the Commanding General, a maintenance hangar, personnel landing pier, mess hall, dispensary, a PX, post office, a wonderful modern laundry and a power plant.... I wish that London could match it [156].

Such passages indicate Deighton’s ambivalent view of post–World War II Americanization as it affected both the United Kingdom and Western culture at large. 8. It is interesting too that when Harry first meets the seductive Samantha Steel, who is clearly something of a stock character, Deighton mimics a Chandleresque style of writing: “Cigarette?” she said[,] and flicked the corner of a pack of Camels with a skill that I can never master. I took one and brought a loose Swan Vesta match from my pocket. I dug my thumbnail into the head and ignited it. She was impressed and stared into my eyes as I lit the cigarette. I took it pretty calmly, just like I didn’t have a couple of milligrammes of flaming phosphorus under the nail and coming through the pain threshold like a rusty scalpel [64].

Vignettes of this kind, of course, are reminiscent of the “hard-boiled” thriller’s depiction of the vamp, though later when Samantha Steel is revealed to be Hanna Stahl, a Shin Bet agent wholly devoted to Israel’s protection as a nation, Deighton abandons stylistic echoes of Chandler. 9. One trait that Funeral in Berlin shares with Ambler’s 1930s novels is a readiness to indict “Big Business” for the exploitation of international political tension. In an intradiegetic exchange, therefore, Colonel Stok explains to Harry, “‘Your military men are pushing that

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Notes — Chapter 4 tension [here in Berlin] as hard as they can’” because “‘next year ... lots of your military friends will be retiring into big capitalist businesses that make armaments.’” This underlying plot means that “‘a state of tension makes it easy to order guns. Gehlen provides the tension — it increases the demand — just like an advertising agency’” (110). 10. I am here drawing on Lars Ole Sauerberg, who argues that fictional spy narratives revolve around a “dichotomy structure” in which hero and adversary are “symbolic expressions of oppositions” involving ways of life, political persuasions, and ethical considerations. “In terms of plot development, the dichotomy structure appears as a journey (the quest of romance) of a cyclical nature: home — abroad — home” (25). “Home,” maintains Sauerberg, is associated with safety, familiarity, and idleness, whereas “abroad” is linked with danger, exoticism, and adventure. It should be clear that I see the “realistic” espionage thrillers of Deighton and le Carré, anticipated by Ambler and Greene, as subverting such a binary formula. 11. See Panek 221–22. Not including astrological chapter headings, for example, The Ipcress File has twenty largely technical footnotes and more than half again as many directing readers to some ten pages of appendices. Funeral in Berlin increases the former count to 43, many of which are linked to background appendices. Spy Story dispenses with both of these props but, in addition to a black-and-white graphic of a chess board overlaid with war-gaming materials on its inside covers, banners individual chapters with excerpts from STUCEN’s fictitious manual of rules. Dudley Jones argues that such scaffolding, while blurring the interface between fact and fiction, demonstrates Deighton’s effort to emphasize the fictionality of his narratives (101–02). 12. Perhaps the clearest expression of this crux in Deighton’s work appears in An Expensive Place to Die when the protagonist remarks, “‘All over the world people are personally opposing things they think are bad, but they do them anyway because a corporate decision can take the blame.’” When Martin Langley Byrd, an older British agent who has manipulated him at London’s behest, fails to respond, the novel’s hero adds: “‘The Nuremberg Trials were held to decide that whether you work for Coca-Cola, Murder, Inc., or the Wehrmacht General Staff you remain responsible for your own actions’” (208)

Chapter 4 1. I have not made an exhaustive effort to track down the original source of Greene’s encomium, which is displayed prominently on front covers of the novel’s reissued editions. John L. Cobbs reported that by 1998 The Spy Who Came In from the Cold had sold more than 40 million copies and was “now required reading for college courses in both popular culture and ‘serious’ literature” (44). Time magazine’s roster of 100 novels, selected by staff critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo, appeared online in 2005. 2. The other two, le Carré told interviewer Mark Lawson, were The Spy Who Came In from the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. His judgment strikes me as reliable, not least because in these texts as well as in The Tailor of Panama, The Constant Gardener, and A Most Wanted Man he exploits to their fullest potential the obliquities of diegetic or indirect narration. 3. See, for example, his piece titled “In Place of Nations,” published in the 9 April 2001 issue of The Nation shortly after release of The Constant Gardener. Le Carré begins by asserting: Times have changed since the [C]old [W]ar, but not half as much as we might like to think. The [C]old [W]ar provided the perfect excuse for Western governments to plunder and exploit the Third World in the name of freedom; to rig its elections, bribe its politicians, appoint its

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Notes — Chapter 4 tyrants and, by every sophisticated means of persuasion and interference, stunt the emergence of young democracies in the name of democracy [11].

Indicting such Western leaders as Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and George W. Bush, who presided just before and immediately after the Cold War’s end, le Carré concludes with a diatribe fueled by their having turned a blind eye to the pharmaceutical industry’s “unbridled capitalism” (12): Do governments run countries anymore? Do presidents run governments? In the [C]old [W]ar, the right side lost[,] but the wrong side won, said a Berlin wit. For the blink of a star, back there in the early nineties, something wonderful might have happened: a Marshall Plan, a generous reconciliation of old enemies, a remaking of old alliances and, for the Third and Fourth Worlds, a commitment to take on the world’s real enemies: starvation, plague, poverty, ecological devastation, despotism and colonialism by all its other names. But that wishful dream supposed that enlightened nations spoke as enlightened nations, not as the hired mouthpieces of multibillion-dollar multinational corporations that view the exploitation of the world’s sick and dying as a sacred duty to their shareholders [13].

Le Carré’s polemical outrage registers his disappointed hopes for a new epoch of international cooperation. In his fiction, as Tony Barley observes, this anger is tied to a “nostalgia for nationhood,” in contrast to a conspiratorial Establishment or self-serving State, that “embodies the mostly buried values of humanism, individualism, democracy[,] and decency” (14). 4. As early as 1966 le Carré broached this theme in an interview: “[T]he [W]estern dilemma of the small man is that the institutions we create to ... fight the Cold War are getting so big that the individual himself is losing his identity in our society, just as he is in [E]astern society” (“Fictional World” 7). This statement anticipates a recurrent motif in the “Karla” trilogy (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, and Smiley’s People) during the 1970s. That motif, as le Carré went on to say in the same interview, involves how in the West’s response to Communism, paradoxically, “we are sacrificing the individual in our battle against the collective” (“Fictional World” 8; cf. “To Russia” 5). Drawing on Marxist theorist Louis Althusser, however, James Michael Buzard has argued that “a central ideological problem of le Carré’s fiction [is] that of maintaining the illusion of a coherent Western (liberal humanist) subject in the face of considerable evidence of that subject’s dispersal, corruption, or loss” (“Faces” 58). 5. Once the novel’s hero, Jonathan Pine, has penetrated Roper’s privately owned Caribbean island retreat, for example, the narrative’s controlling voice categorizes those who regularly visit the plutocrat’s offshore compound ironically named “Crystal”: And after the Frequent Fliers came the Royal & Ancients: the sub-country English debutantes escorted by brain-dead offshoots of the royal brat pack and policemen in attendance; Arab smilers in pale suits and snow-white shirts and polished toecaps; minor British politicians and ex-diplomats terminally deformed by self-importance; Malaysian tycoons with their own cooks; Iraqui Jews with Greek palaces and companies in Taiwan; Germans with Eurobellies moaning about Ossies; hayseed lawyers from Wyoming wanting to do the best by mah clients and mahself; retired vastly rich investors gleaned from their dude plantations and twenty-million-dollar bungalows—wrecked old Texans on blue-veined legs of straw, in parrot shirts and joky sun hats, sniffing oxygen from small inhalers; their women with chiseled faces they never had when they were young, and tucked stomachs and tucked bottoms, and artificial brightness in their unpouched eyes [267–68].

Such a rhetorically inflated peroration, utterly different from Pine’s terse way of speaking, alerts us immediately to the intrusion of an interpolated set-piece that registers le Carré’s disgust with the venality to which all these contingents pay homage in the person of Richard Onslow Roper. 6. In contrast to the passage (and several others like it) from The Night Manager quoted in the preceding note, The Tailor of Panama contains only one elaborately lengthy sentence,

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Notes — Chapter 4 which happens to be one that indicts Louisa Jennings Pendel’s “captivity” while growing up in the former Canal Zone: But already she was slipping back into the mists of her own childhood, ... the deadly predictability of Zonian life from day to day, into the crematorium sweetness bequeathed to us by our dreaming forefathers, nothing left for us to do but drift amid the all-year-round flowers that the Company grows for us and the always-green lawns that the Company mows for us, and swim in the Company pools and hate our beautiful sisters and read the Company newspapers and fantasise about being a perfected society of early American socialists, part settlers, part colonisers, part preachers to the godless natives in the World Beyond the Zone, while never actually rising above our own petty arguments and jealousies, which are the lot of any foreign garrison, never questioning the Company’s assumptions, whether ethnic, sexual[,] or social, never presuming to step outside the confinement allotted to us, but progressing obediently and inexorably, level by level, up and down the tideless narrow avenue of our preordained rut in life, knowing that every lock and lake and gully, every tunnel, robot, dam, and every shaped and ordered hill on either side of them is the immutable achievement of the dead, and that our bounden duty here on [E]arth is to praise God and the Company, steer a straight line between the walls, cultivate our faith and chastity in defiance of our promiscuous sister, masturbate ourselves to death[,] and polish the brass on the Eighth Wonder of Its Day [134].

Although the excerpt’s syntactical complexity, especially given its repeated sarcasm about “the Company,” might lead some to regard it as an authorial, non-diegetic excursus, symptomatic of the literary flourishes for which le Carré has sometimes been criticized, it in fact is a form of indirect narration that exposes Louisa’s simmering resentment and unconscious memories of her formative years. Note, for example, the introductory clause, “But already she was slipping back into the mists of her own childhood,” as well as the pronominal reference to “us” and “our.” It nonetheless is also highly probable that, while peeling back the layers of his female lead character’s repressed psyche, le Carré is simultaneously inscribing his own loathing for any collectivist mentality that swallows up the individual and promotes corporate dependency. 7. During this part of the novel, for example, we learn that “Old Etonian Justin” was afforded “a long succession of nannies and boarding schools and universities and foreign holidays, and whatever else was needed to ease his path into the ‘family firm,’ which was what his father called the Foreign Office” (52, 131). 8. Le Carré first addresses this issue toward the beginning of The Spy Who Came In from the Cold when Alec Leamas meets with Control after a failed mission in Berlin. Acknowledging that “‘we do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night’” (14), the Director of Cambridge Circus goes on to expound his rationale: “I mean you’ve got to compare method with method, and ideal with ideal. I would say that since the war, our methods — ours and those of the opposition — have become much the same. I mean you can’t be less ruthless than the opposition simply because your government’s policy is benevolent, can you now?” He laughed quietly to himself: “That would never do,” he said [15].

Looking back on his career in The Secret Pilgrim, spymaster George Smiley assesses the ethical dilemma more forthrightly. During the Cold War, he reflects, “‘we scarcely paused to ask ourselves how much longer we could defend our society by these means and remain a society worth defending’” (127). 9. As early as 1974, for example, le Carré dismissed a rather blundering interview question (“If pressed, would you say you were a novelist, or what?”) by answering: “I would just say writer, I think. One has enough problems without doing the critic’s job. There is this endless debate about the difference between a thriller and a novel, and it really is a very feeble one” (“John le Carré: The Writer” 31).

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Notes — Chapters 5 and 6

Chapter 5 1. The fact that Byrd kills Couzins in a particularly gruesome manner, encasing her naked body in a “black metal case” known as an “‘iron maiden’” (139), all in order to frame a Chinese nuclear scientist fond of a poem by Shao Hstin-mei that ends with the lines “‘If she is not a rose, a rose all white, / Then she must be redder than the red of blood’” (45), further attests to his misogynistic sadism. 2. For a discussion of Bowen’s The Heat of the Day, see Allan Hepburn’s Intrigue: Espionage and Culture (134–65). 3. An “invisible,” we are informed in At Risk, is “CIA-speak for the ultimate intelligence nightmare: the terrorist who, because he or she is an ethnic native of the target country, can cross its borders unchecked, move around that country unquestioned, and infiltrate its institutions with ease” (15). 4. “‘Illegals,’” explains Rimington’s text, “‘are officers of an intelligence service who live outside the embassy. They assume a false nationality and identity to cover their presence’” (43). 5. An example of such directive linearity appears in Present Danger when Rimington’s heroine reflects, early in the novel, on her friend Judith Spratt’s rebound from divorce: How eventful Judith’s recent life had been, thought Liz, and how well she had picked herself up from her husband’s disgrace and their failed marriage. What had Liz to report in return? Nothing really, in terms of change to her private life. There was still no man in her life, no marriage, no children; only the solace of doing work she enjoyed and knew she was good at [51].

The text’s controlling voice here frames Liz Carlyle’s thoughts regarding her romantic prospects by comparison with her colleague’s resiliency after a broken marriage. The reflection casts in doubt the possibility of balancing personal and career fulfillment while simultaneously prefiguring the novel’s conclusion in which the protagonist can glimpse a viable future with Martin Seurat. The text’s subplot, in other words, almost guarantees the narrative’s conclusion. 6. For alerting me to the relevance of both Janice A. Radway’s book and Kay J. Mussell’s interview, I am indebted to John G. Cawelti’s Mystery, Violence, and Popular Culture (89–90).

Chapter 6 1. Shortly after the publication of his inaugural novel, Cumming acknowledged in “Undercover and Out of Place” that its opening part replicated closely his own experience as a prospective recruit to MI6 in 1995 after he graduated from the University of Edinburgh. 2. Later Milius admits, “It was stupid of me to get sucked back into this world. As if unable to escape from a drug whose effects first ensnared me as long ago as 1995, I could not see a way of ignoring what had happened to Mikel. The possibilities seemed too great, the chances for excitement too much for me to resist. And now, for the second time in my life, I have blood on my hands. First Kate, now Arenaza. The secret world betrays me. To hold out any hope of salvation I have to cut myself off from it entirely” (172). Within a few pages, however, Alec meets supposed MI6 agent Richard Kitson and, thinking that by assisting him he can ingratiate himself again with the “Office,” promptly forgets about the notion of “salvation.” 3. Even though A Spy by Nature discloses that Katharine Lanchester and Fortner Grice were not a married couple (see 338), The Spanish Game portrays them as “Katharine and Fortner Simms” (5). Conceivably this inconsistency, if not simply a copyeditor’s oversight, is but another sign of their operational subterfuge.

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Notes — Afterword 4. Typhoon reveals nothing about Joe Lennox’s background or parentage other than the generic information that shortly after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre he graduated from an expensive boarding school and subsequently from Oxford University. Recruited into SIS by age 23, he then heads overseas a year later, telling his family that he is leaving “to seek his fortune in the East.” Cumming adds, “Lying to his parents felt like an act of liberation: for the first time in his life he was free of all the smallness and the demands of England. In less than a year Joe Lennox had cut himself off from everything that had made and defined him” (22). Typhoon, in other words, begins as the narrative of a protagonist who seeks rebirth, ironically, in postcolonial Hong Kong, site of his first posting. 5. “Cousin” is the tradecraft jargon by which MI6 agents refer to their CIA counterparts in all of Cumming’s novels. 6. In Chapter 16, for example, Lasker quite improbably cites verbatim a two-paragraph passage from Isabella Aubert’s diary concerning a dream she had of Miles Coolidge. 7. See, for example, Typhoon 166–67. Joe Lennox there admits, “‘I’ve always believed in God,’” though “‘I don’t really know why. How does something like that begin?’” His answer is that parents Peter and Catherine, the father being an “agnostic moralist” and the mother an “old-fashioned, lapsed Anglican” (166), had somehow instilled a vestigial “faith” in their son.

Afterword 1. Siddiqi’s noteworthy study of 2008 examines Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories in great detail to substantiate her claims. Without addressing narratological differences between the classical “whodunit” and early espionage-centered novels, she then discusses John Buchan’s fiction at lesser length to propose that it projects comparable “fantasies of imperial order” and the recapturing of “lost agency.” Siddiqi’s overall argument is highly compelling, but she is not concerned with discriminating between these two representative genres of popular literature. 2. As a theorist Walsh is often prone to abstractions, but his main point is that we must attend to the textual mechanisms by which any narrational form signals its generic divergence from others, however closely allied, in “the production of fiction.”

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Bibliography Remnick, David. “Le Carré’s New War.” Rev. of The Night Manager, by John le Carré. New York Review of Books 40.14 (12 Aug. 1993): 20. Rev. of A Spy by Nature, by Charles Cumming. Publishers Weekly 14 May 2007: 31–32. Rimington, Stella. At Risk. 2004. New York: Random House-Vintage, 2006. _____. “Bond: Daring Spy or Obsolete Duffer?” Toronto Star 17 May 2008: Ideas, 3. _____. Dead Line. London: Quercus, 2008. _____. Illegal Action. 2007. New York: Random House-Knopf, 2008. _____. Open Secret. 2001. London: Random House-Arrow, 2002. _____. Present Danger. London: Quercus, 2009. _____. Secret Asset. 2006. New York: Random House-Vintage, 2008. Roberts, Andrew. “I Spy with No Word of a Lie.” Rev. of A Spy by Nature, by Charles Cumming. Mail on Sunday [London] 24 June 2001: 66. _____. “So What’s the Big Secret?” Mail on Sunday [London] 23 Sept. 2001: 64. Roston, Murray. Graham Greene’s Narrative Strategies: A Study of the Major Novels. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Sauerberg, Lars Ole. Secret Agents in Fiction: Ian Fleming, John le Carré and Len Deighton. New York: St. Martin’s, 1984. Schöneich, Christoph. “Der Leser als Agent: Literarische Anspielungen in Graham Greenes The Human Factor.” Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen 227 (1990): 282–98. Sedlak, Valerie. “Espionage, Murder, and the Moral Vision in The Human Factor.” CEA Magazine: A Journal of the College English Association, Middle Atlantic Group 11 (1998): 33–46. Shapiro, Henry L. “The Infidel Greene: Radical Ambiguity in Our Man in Havana.” Essays in Graham Greene: An Annual Review 1 (1987): 83–103. _____. “Morality and Ambivalence in The Human Factor.” Essays in Graham Greene: An Annual Review 2 (1990): 99–112. Shaw, Simon. “Paperbacks.” Mail on Sunday [London] 19 Sept. 2004: 68. Sharrock, Roger. Saints, Sinners and Comedians: The Novels of Graham Greene. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984. Sherry, Norman. The Life of Graham Greene. Volume I: 1904 –1939. New York: Penguin, 1989. _____. The Life of Graham Greene. Volume II: 1939 –1955. New York: Viking, 1995. _____. The Life of Graham Greene. Volume III: 1955 –1991. New York: Viking, 2004. Siddiqi, Yumna. Anxieties of Empire and the Fiction of Intrigue. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Silverstein, Marc. “After the Fall: The World of Graham Greene’s Thrillers.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 22 (Fall 1988): 24–44. Stafford, David. The Silent Game: The Real World of Imaginary Spies. 1988. Rev. ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991. Stafford, David A. T. “Spies and Gentlemen: The Birth of the British Spy Novel, 1893– 1914.” Victorian Studies 24 (Summer 1981): 489–509. Stokes, Emily. “Hurrah for MI5, Saviours of Blighty.” Rev. of Secret Asset, by Stella Rimington. Observer 20 Aug. 2006: Review Pages, 22. Storhoff, Gary P. “To Choose a Different Loyalty: Greene’s Politics in The Human Factor.” Essays in Literature 11 (Spring 1984): 59–66. Stratford, Philip. Faith and Fiction: Creative Process in Greene and Mauriac. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1964. Symons, Julian. Mortal Consequences: A History—From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.

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212

Index Age of Terrorism 22, 110, 168, 187 Allain, Marie-Françoise 197n13 Allott, Kenneth 52 Al-Qaeda 135, 150, 180 Althusser, Louis 201n4 Ambler, Eric 5, 20, 21, 46, 89, 115, 165, 187, 194n2, 194n3, 195n4, 195n6, 195n1, 199n9; Background to Danger 194n1; Cause for Alarm 194n1; A Coffin for Dimitrios 22, 26, 33–38, 40, 44, 45, 97, 148, 194n1; The Dark Frontier 23–27, 33, 39, 95, 174; Epitaph for a Spy 22, 26, 27–32, 33, 38, 44, 45, 67, 103, 194n1, 195n7; Here Lies: An Autobiography 24; The Intercom Conspiracy 22, 26, 39–45, 63, 195n8; Journey into Fear 30, 34, 194n1; Judgment on Deltchev 39, 194n1, 195n7; The Light of Day 39, 194n1, 195n7; Passage of Arms 39, 194n1, 195n7; The Schirmer Inheritance 39, 194n1, 195n7; screenplays 194n3; State of Siege 39, 194n1, 195n7; Waiting for Orders: The Complete Short Stories of Eric Ambler 30 Ambrosetti, Ronald J. 33, 34 Amin, Idi 116 Amis, Kingsley: Lucky Jim 92 analepsis 9, 193n4 Anderson, Patrick 153 Angleton, James 157 apocalypticism 188 Appel, Allen 182 Appleyard, Bryan 147 Aristotle 7–8, 32 Atkins, John 193n1 Atta, Mohammed 138 Auden, W.H. 82 August, Oliver 180 Aznar, José María 175, 176

Barley, Tony 201n3 Barthes, Roland 44 Barzun, Jacques 4, 86, 144, 191, 193n1 Bashar-al-Assad 162 Batista, Fulgencio 71 Bentham, Jeremy 60 Bergonzi, Bernard 196n2 Besson, Luc: Nikita (film) 159 Bildungsroman 114 Blair, Tony 135, 176, 180, 190, 201n3 Blaise, Modesty 159 Blake, George 83 Bloom, Clive 125 Bloom, Harold 185 Blunt, Anthony 83, 154, 173, 186 Bond, James 3, 21, 84, 149, 159, 162, 165, 168 Booth, Wayne C. 8, 194n7 Bordwell, David 194n3 Borges, Jorge Luis 41, 193n3 Bowen, Elizabeth: The Heat of the Day 148, 203n2 Bower, Tom 146 Bradford, Richard 191 Brezhnev, Leonid 81 Britton, Wesley 5 Brooks, Peter 193n3 Browning, Robert: “Bishop Blougram’s Apology” 197n13 Buchan, John 11, 15, 20, 22, 23, 86, 143, 166, 204n1; The Thirty-Nine Steps 12, 13–15, 20, 51, 131, 144 Burgess, Guy 83, 93, 154, 173, 198n19 Burstall, Christopher 197n12 Bush, George W. 135, 136, 141, 176, 180, 183, 185, 190, 201n3 Buzard, James Michael 201n4 Byatt, A.S.: Possession: A Romance 40

Baden-Powell, Robert 12 Bakhtin, Mikhail 4

Carr, John Dickson 9 Carter, Jimmy 120

213

Index Carvajal, Doreen 187 Castro, Fidel 71, 72 Caterson, Simon 195n9 Cavalcanti, Alberto 71 Cawelti, John G. 3, 6, 185, 193n3, 198n2, 203n6 Cervantes, Miguel de: Don Quixote 68, 197n14 Chace, William M. 112, 196n9 Chamberlain, Neville 48, 135 Chamfort, Nicolas 34 Chandler, Raymond 89, 110, 199n8 Cheney, Richard 180 Chesterton, G.K. 9, 46 Childers, Erskine 11, 15, 20, 22, 86, 166; The Riddle of the Sands 12–13, 144 Christie, Agatha 9, 46 Clinton, Bill 201n3 Cobbs, John L. 117, 200n1 The Colony (television) 188 Conan Doyle, Arthur 7, 14, 32, 204n1 Conrad, Joseph 5, 11, 14, 21, 22, 47, 51, 61, 143; Heart of Darkness 15, 35, 36, 50; The Secret Agent 12, 15–17, 139, 164, 197n18; Under Western Eyes 12, 15, 18– 20, 77; Victory 73 Cooper, James Fenimore 22 Crehan, Stewart 118, 125, 126 Cumming, Charles 22, 168, 169–70, 187; The Hidden Man 169, 176–80; The Spanish Game 169, 170, 174–76, 179, 180, 203n3; A Spy by Nature 169, 170, 171–74, 175, 176, 179, 186, 203n3; The Trinity Six 169, 186; Typhoon 169, 170, 180–85, 204n4, 204n7; “Undercover and Out of Place” 203n1

Violent Ward 111; Winter: A Berlin Family, 1899 –1945 104; Yesterday’s Spy 103, 106, 109 Delpech, Jeanine 196n4 Denning, Michael 6, 25, 36, 45, 162, 166 Derrida, Jacques 36 detective fiction 7–9, 13, 32, 135, 193n3, 194n2 diegesis 7–9, 42, 128, 194n3 Diemert, Brian 61 Dimock, Wai Chee 145 Dostoyevsky, Fyodor 20, 24, 196n4 Douglas, Ann 166 Dulles, John Foster 64, 197n10 Eckhart, Meister 134 Eco, Umberto 193n3 Eliot, T.S.: The Four Quartets 47, 61; “Gerontion” 157; The Waste Land 51, 57 Engels, Friedrich 37, 195n6 Erdinast-Vulcan, Daphna 17, 85 Erisman, Fred 198n4 Esperanto 57 espiocracy 62, 65, 97, 107, 138, 163, 170, 175, 179, 190 espionage fiction’s traits 5–9, 53 Euskadi ta Askatasuna 175 Fanon, Frantz 132 Farris, Miriam 52 Fleming, Ian 3, 21, 63, 83, 110, 149–50, 165, 167; The Spy Who Loved Me 162 Ford, Ford Madox 61 Forster, E.M. 61, 82, 83, 157, 158, 197n19 Forsyth, Frederick: The Day of the Jackal 156 Foucault, Michel 49, 56, 59–60, 188 Fowles, John: The French Lieutenant’s Woman 40 Friedman, Alan Warren 51 Frigerio, Vittorio 27 Frye, Northrop 68, 70 Furie, Sidney J. 198n3

Darwinism 34, 116 Davis, Paxton 44, 45 dédoublement 105 Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe 84 Deighton, Len 22, 23, 144, 165, 167, 169, 173, 179, 186, 187; The Billion Dollar Brain 104, 106, 109; career history 88– 89; City of Gold 111; An Expensive Place to Die 109, 110, 146, 200n12; Funeral in Berlin 89, 95, 97–104, 110, 199n9, 200n11; Game, Set, and Match 104; Hook, Line, and Sinker 104; Horse Under Water 92, 100, 198n5; The Ipcress File 89, 90–97, 100, 103, 110, 171, 198n4, 198n5, 199n6, 200n11; MAMista 110; Spy Story 89, 104–10, 148, 200n11;

Generation X 171 Genette, Gérard 8–9, 193n4 Glover, David 8 Green, Sonya 184, 186 Greene, Graham 5, 20, 21, 88, 89, 109, 112, 118, 142, 143, 149, 154, 165, 167, 185, 187, 190, 195n1; Brighton Rock 59, 74; A Burnt-Out Case 48, 49, 196n2; The Comedians 196n2; The Confidential

214

Index Agent 22, 25, 47, 48–62, 84, 85, 173, 196n4; The End of the Affair 196n2; A Gun for Sale 25, 48; The Heart of the Matter 48, 74–75, 77, 196n2, 197n16, 197n17; The Honorary Consul 48, 86, 110, 196n2; The Human Factor 22, 67, 71–87, 104, 152, 155, 178, 197n18, 199n6; It’s a Battlefield 54, 196n7; The Lawless Roads 54, 55, 187, 196n7, 196n8; The Ministry of Fear 25, 48, 53–54, 80; Monsignor Quixote 196n2, 197n14; Our Man in Havana 22, 62–71, 118, 143, 196n10, 197n11, 197n14; The Power and the Glory 48, 49, 196n2; The Quiet American 48, 72; A Sort of Life 47, 71, 83, 197n13; Stamboul Train 48; “The Virtue of Disloyalty” 71– 72; Ways of Escape 71, 83, 86 Grossman, Lev 200n1 Grossmith, George and Weedon: The Diary of a Nobody 148 Guernica (painting) 52

James, P.D. 151 Jameson, Fredric 6 Jeffery, Keith: The Secret History of MI6 190 Jennings, Humphrey 55 Jennings, Luke 153–54 Jones, Dudley 200n11 Jouve, Père 196n4 Jung, Carl Gustav 24 Kafka, Franz 31, 50, 196n4 Kazin, Alfred: Contemporaries 197n10 Kelly, Richard 67 Khrushchev, Nikita 64, 197n10 Kierkegaard, Søren 196n4 Kipling, Rudyard 4, 14, 49, 64, 185 Kuhnelt-Leddihn Erik R. von: The Gates of Hell 196n7 Lacayo, Richard 200n1 Lamb, Charles: Tales from Shakespeare 65 Lambert, Gavin 35 Lawrence, D.H. 59 Lawson, Mark 200n2 le Carré, John (Cornwell, David John Moore) 4, 5, 21, 23, 47, 89, 104, 109, 110, 111, 112–18, 149, 151, 154, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 173, 179, 185, 186, 187; Absolute Friends 136; The Constant Gardener 22, 112, 125–35, 142, 148, 174, 182, 183, 200n2, 200n3; The Honourable Schoolboy 112, 201n4; “In Place of Nations” 200n3; The Little Drummer Girl 112; The Mission Song 136; A Most Wanted Man 22, 112, 131, 135–43, 170, 186, 200n2; The Night Manager 116–18, 135, 139, 201n6; Our Game 135; Our Kind of Traitor 144; A Perfect Spy 112, 118, 135, 154, 179; The Russia House 113; The Secret Pilgrim 114–15, 148, 202n8; Single & Single 135–36; Smiley’s People 112, 201n4; The Spy Who Came In from the Cold 3, 4, 6, 9–11, 20, 98, 112, 126, 143, 152, 171, 200n1, 200n2, 202n8; The Tailor of Panama 22, 112, 114, 118– 25, 170, 200n2, 201n6; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 112, 200n2, 201n4 Lense, Edward 198n4 Le Queux, William 12, 54, 143, 166 Lewinsohn, Richard: The Man Behind the Scenes: The Career of Sir Basil Zaharoff 97 Lewis, Peter 23, 195n9

Haggard, H. Rider 14, 77 Hall, Adam 104, 186; The Quiller Memorandum 98, 171 Hammett, Dashiell 89 Hardy, Thomas 48 Harrisson, Tom 55 Hegel, G.W.F. 32, 81 Heidegger, Martin 126, 135; Being and Time 129, 134; Discourse on Thinking 133–34 Hepburn, Allan 7, 11, 13, 62, 125, 203n2 hermeneutics 7, 98, 125–26, 128 heteroglossia 18 Higdon, David Leon 74 Hitler, Adolf 71, 135 Hitz, Frederick P. 5 Hoffenberg, Mason 4 Hoffman, Tod 132 Holmes, Sherlock 14, 35 Homer: The Iliad 22 Hooker, Mark T. 167 Hopkins, Joel 195n6 Hussein, Saddam 136, 174, 180 indeterminacy 4, 9, 37 indirect narration 8, 11, 16–17, 27, 50, 70, 165, 186, 200n2, 202n6 Iser, Wolfgang 9 Jackson, Steve 169 James, Henry 61

215

Index Lichtig, Toby 185 Life After People (television) 188 Litvinenko, Alexander 159 Lodge, David 7–9, 25, 61, 193n2 logocentrism 18 Ludlum, Robert 23, 169

Panek, LeRoy L. 3, 89, 103, 200n11 panopticism 49, 56, 60, 188 Pendleton, Robert 50, 77 Philby, Kim 83, 89, 154, 173; My Silent War 86 picaresque 3, 14, 118 Plato 8 Plimpton, George 115 Poe, Edgar Allan 7, 32 Porter, Henry 169 postmodernism 7 Price, Thomas J. 187 Pritchett, V.S. 71, 86 prolepsis 9, 193n4 Putin, Vladimir 158, 159 Pynchon, Thomas 193n3

MacInnes, Helen 148 Mackenzie, Compton 190 Maclean, Donald 83, 93, 154, 173 Madge, Charles 55 Malamet, Elliott 196n6 Malinowski, Bronislaw 55 Marlowe, Christopher 22 Marsh, Ngaio 9 Martin, Andrew 169 Marx, Karl 37, 195n6 Mass Observation 55–56 Mata Hari 66, 146, 160 Maugham, W. Somerset 20, 47, 190; Ashenden: or, The British Agent 20–21, 62–63, 188 Mauriac, François 61 Mayan eschatology 188 McCarthy, Cormac: The Road 188 McGowan, Todd 126 McNeile, H.C. (“Sapper”) 12 Meirelles, Fernando 126 Meisel, Joseph S. 194n6 Merry, Bruce 5, 49, 144 metafiction 40, 41, 63 Michaëlis, Bo Tao 195n9 Millar, Peter 170 Milton, John 14 mimesis 7–9, 42, 190, 194n3 Minh, Ho Chi 72 mise en scène 11 Modleski, Tania 166 Monaghan, David 143–44 Moré, Marcel 46, 196n4, 196n6 Muggeridge, Malcolm 190 Mussell, Kay J. 166–67, 203n6

Queen, Ellery 9 Radway, Janice A. 166, 203n6 ratiocination 7, 9, 13, 28, 185, 190 Reagan, Ronald 178, 201n3 Rees, Goronwy 83, 197n19 Remnick, David 116 Rimington, Stella 22, 169, 187; At Risk 148–54, 160, 167, 203n3; Dead Line 160–63; Illegal Action 158–60; Open Secret 146–48, 165; Present Danger 158, 163–65, 203n5; Secret Asset 154–58, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 176 Roberts, Andrew 148 Rosenberg, Bruce A. 6, 185 Roston, Murray 10304, 196n2 Rumsfeld, Donald 180, 183 Said, Edward 39 Sauerberg, Lars Ole 89, 92, 198n3, 200n10 Sayers, Dorothy 9 Schöneich, Christoph 78 Sedlak, Valerie 80 Shah of Iran 186 Shakespeare, William: As You Like It 68; King Henry IV, Part 1 91; Venus and Adonis 74 Shapiro, Henry L. 63, 75, 197n14, 197n17 Sharrock, Roger 49, 75, 76, 196n10 Shaw, Simon 169 Sherry, Norman 48, 195n1, 196n4 Siddiqi, Yumna 189–90, 204n1 Silverstein, Marc 52 Southern, Terry 4 Spengler, Oswald 24

Newman, John Henry 54, 55 Newman, Judie 197n19 Nietzsche, Friedrich 24, 32, 33, 34, 95 Noriega, Manuel 120, 124 O’Donnell, Peter 159 Oppenheim, E. Phillips 12, 23 Osborne, John: Look Back in Anger 92 Palmer, Jerry 9, 49

216

Index Spillane, Mickey 111 Stalin, Joseph 39, 81 Stevenson, Robert Louis 13, 49 Stock, Jon 169 Stokes, Emily 152 Stratford, Philip 63 Symons, Julian 23, 167

Van Dine, S.S. 9 Walsh, Richard 190, 194n7, 204n2 Walton, Douglas 128 Waugh, Patricia 40 Wells, H.G. 13 White, Gilbert: The Natural History of Selborne 91 White, Rosie 160 Winks, Robin W. 5 Wolfe, Peter 30, 196n5 Woods, Brett F. 5, 28, 109, 198n1 Woolf, Virginia 61, 148; Mrs. Dalloway 58 Wright, Andrew 86, 197n18 Wright, Peter: Spycatcher 147

Thatcher, Margaret 147, 178, 201n3 Theroux, Paul 170 Thomson, Brian Lindsay 65, 197n11 Todorov, Tzvetan 9, 193n3 Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace 79, 80 Tonkin, Boyd 167 Toynbee, Philip 197n15 Tracy, Laura 67, 76 2012 (film) 188

Yates, Dornford 11, 23 Unamuno, Miguel de 197n14 Urban, Mark 147 Usborne, Richard 194n5

Zamenhof, L.L. 57

217