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Should John le Carre be called a literary genius?

28th October 2009

John le Carre should be considered a literary genius for developing his best-known character George Smiley, a journalist has argued.

In a debate on the merits of the espionage author in The Times, David Sanderson claimed that Le Carre is worthy of being classed in the same league as writers such as Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad.

'The creation of Smiley alone marks Le Carre as a genius. Smiley is capable of slicing delicately the Gordian knots of espionage duplicity and saving his country but he is also a cuckolded husband who flounders in personal relationships,' he explained.

Sanderson also highlighted the writer's ability to craft tangled tragedies, recreate the atmosphere of the Cold War and depict characters who are full of flaws.

However, the newspaper's Oliver Kamm took the opposite stance and argued that Le Carre's fans overstate his importance.

Kamm suggested that the writer only deals with a limited number of themes and is overshadowed by the works of authors such as Conrad and John Buchan.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Le Carre and his backlist titles will move to Penguin, following a 35-year stint with his previous publisher Hodder.

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