The Secret Pilgrim
The eighth of John le Carré's espionage novels to feature his most enduring and well-loved character, George Smiley, and a gripping feat of narrative brilliance, The Secret Pilgrim is published in Penguin Modern Classics with an afterword by the author.
The Cold War is over and Ned has been demoted to the training academy. He asks his old mentor, George Smiley, to address his passing-out class. There are no laundered reminiscences; Smiley speaks the truth - perhaps the last the students will ever hear. As they listen, Ned recalls his own painful triumphs and inglorious failures, in a career that took him from the Western Isles of Scotland to Hamburg and from Israel to Cambodia. He asks himself: Did it do any good? What did it do to me? And what will happen to us now? In this late Smiley novel, the great spy gives his own humane and unexpected answers.
If you enjoyed The Secret Pilgrim, you might like le Carré's The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'Consummate and enthralling'
John le Carré was born in 1931. For six decades, he wrote novels that came to define our age. The son of a confidence trickster, he spent his childhood between boarding school and the London underworld. At sixteen he found refuge at the university of Bern, then later at Oxford. A spell of teaching at Eton led him to a short career in British Intelligence (MI5&6). He published his debut novel,
Call for the Dead, in 1961 while still a secret servant. His third novel,
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,
The Honourable Schoolboy and
Smiley's People. At the end of the Cold War, le Carré widened his scope to explore an international landscape including the arms trade and the War on Terror. His memoir,
The Pigeon Tunnel, was published in 2016 and the last George Smiley novel,
A Legacy of Spies, appeared in 2017. He died on 12 December 2020.