Quotes from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

John le Carré ·  422 pages

Rating: (54.1K votes)


“The more identities a man has, the more they express the person they conceal.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“There are moments which are made up of too much stuff for them to be lived at the time they occur.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“Survival...is an infinite capacity for suspicion.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“I have a theory which I suspect is rather immoral,' Smiley went on, more lightly. 'Each of us has only a quantum of compassion. That if we lavish our concern on every stray cat, we never get to the centre of things.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“It's the oldest question of all, George. Who can spy on the spies?”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



“...in the hands of politicians grand designs achieve nothing but new forms of the old misery...”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“There was nothing dishonourable in not being blown about by every little modern wind. Better to have worth, to entrench, to be an oak of one's own generation.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“I once heard someone say morality was method. Do you hold with that? I suppose you wouldn't. You would say that morality was vested in the aim, I expect. Difficult to know what one's aims are, that's the trouble, specially if you're British.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“Look... we're getting to be old men, and we've spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another's systems. I can see through Eastern values just as you can see through our Western ones. Both of us, I am sure, have experienced ad nauseam the technical satisfactions of this wretched war. But now your own side is going to shoot you. Don't you think it's time to recognise that there is as little worth on your side as there is on mine?”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“Treason is very much a matter of habit, Smiley decided.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



“Smiley was soaked to the skin and God as a punishment had removed all taxis from the face of London.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“We've had enough." He took back the report and jammed it under his arm. "We've had a bellyful, in fact."
"And like everyone who's had enough," said Control as Alleline noisily left the room, "he wants more.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“An artist is a bloke who can hold two fundamentally opposing views and still function:”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“...also took for granted that secret services were the only real measure of a nations political health, the only real expression of its subconscious.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“God is in his Heaven and the first night was a wow.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



“The monstrosity of this, reaching Smiley through a thickening wall of spiritual exhaustion, left him momentarily speechless.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“There are always a dozen reasons for doing nothing," Ann liked to say--it was a favourite apologia, indeed, for many of her misdemeanours. "There is only one reason for doing something. And that's because you want to." Or have to? Ann would furiously deny it: coercion, she would say, is just another word for doing what you want; or for not doing what you are afraid of.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“Look, we are getting to be old men, and we've spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another's systems... Don't you think it's time to recognise that there is as little worth on your side as there is on mine?”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“Few men can resist expressing their appetites when they're making a fantasy about themselves.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“And your wife, she's in the pink and so on?"

His expressions were also boyish.

"Very bonny, thank you," said Smiley, trying gallantly to respond in kind.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



“Middle children weep longer than their brothers and sisters. Over her mother’s shoulder, stilling her pains and her injured pride, Jackie Lacon watched the party leave. First, two men she had not seen before: one tall, one short and dark. They drove off in a small green van. No one waved to them, she noticed, or even said goodbye. Next, her father left in his own car; lastly a blond, good-looking man and a short fat one in an enormous overcoat like a pony blanket made their way to a sports car parked under the beech trees. For a moment she really thought there must be something wrong with the fat one, he followed so slowly and so painfully. Then, seeing the handsome man hold the car door for him, he seemed to wake, and hurried forward with a lumpy skip. Unaccountably, this gesture upset her afresh. A storm of sorrow seized her and her mother could not console her.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“...what woman has ever stopped by a want of information? She felt. And despised him for not acting in accordance with her feelings.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“Each of us has only a quantum of compassion. That if we lavish our concern on every stray cat, we never get to the centre of things. What do you think of i?”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“Smiley was the oddest. You thought, to look at him, that he couldn't cross the road alone, but you might as well have offered protection to a hedgehog.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“Martindale had no valid claim on Smiley either professionally or socially. He worked on the fleshy side of the Foreign Office and his job consisted of lunching visiting dignitaries whom no one else would have entertained in his woodshed. He was a floating bachelor with a grey mane and that nimbleness which only fat men have.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



“Lo raccontò in maniera semplice ma precisa, come un buon soldato rievoca una battaglia, non più col sapore della vittoria o della sconfitta ma unicamente con l'emozione del ricordo.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“He would set up as a mild eccentric, discursive, withdrawn, but possessing one or two lovable habits such as muttering to himself as he bumbled along pavements. Out of date, perhaps, but who wasn't these days? Out of date, but loyal to his own time. At a certain moment, after all, every man chooses: will he go forward, will he go back? There was nothing dishonourable in not being blown about by every little modern wind. Better to have worth, to entrench, to be an oak of one's own generation.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“There are moments that are made up of too much stuff for them to be lived at the time they occur.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“…what woman has ever stopped by a want of information? She felt. And despised him for not acting in accordance with her feelings.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


“He has a saying: he'll only believe what can be written on a postcard.”
― John le Carré, quote from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy



About the author

John le Carré
Born place: in Poole, Dorset, England, The United Kingdom
Born date October 19, 1931
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