Special Events: Eat Your Words

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

by John le Carré

Luncheon and Book Discussion led by UNC Greensboro Professor Dr. Christopher Hodgkins

George Smiley is to the fictional superspy what Philip Marlowe is to the popular gumshoe, and Rooster Cogburn to the Western lawman: that is, a genre hero for grown-ups, his character deepened by a third dimension of moral ambiguity, realism, regret, and longing. In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, former MI-6 operative John le Carré (David Cornwell) raised the novel of espionage to high art, maturing it beyond the heart-racing and sexually sophomoric entertainments of Ian Fleming—and entertaining they are!—into the realm of reportorial detail and literary complexity. Smiley—weary, wise, bespectacled, middle-aged, and undersexed—is the un-Bond who nevertheless is called suddenly from semi-retirement to suss out the biggest British intelligence meltdown in a generation: “Control” is dead, leaving word that a “mole” in the inner ring of “the Circus” is selling “gold dust” to “the Neighbours” in return for “chicken feed”; the service’s best “scalphunters” are being caught, “sweated,” and shot; and “the Cousins” are fit to be tied. If you want to learn exactly what that last sentence means, and which of Smiley’s old comrades-in-arms—based loosely on Kim Philby of the infamous “Cambridge Five”—have betrayed queen and country, you’ll join us for our lunchtime discussion of this highly influential and much-filmed novel.

Tuesday, 12:00-2:00 pm
April 16
Greensboro Country Club

Cost: $40 per person

Christopher Hodgkins (M.A. and Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Professor of English and Atlantic World Studies.  The winner of UNC Greensboro’s Senior Teaching Excellence Award (2004) and Senior Research Excellence Award (2011), he is author or editor of eight books on Renaissance literature, the British imperial imagination, and literary study of the Bible.


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