Le Carre's The Spy Who Came In From The Cold: A Structuralist Reading

B.K. Martin


'Superbly constructed, with an atmosphere of chilly hell' - that was J. B. Priestley's view of John Le Carre's 1963 novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. Now if we agree that the novel is 'superbly constructed' (as we well may), what exactly are we agreeing to? And what is the relationship between the 'construction' and the hellish 'atmosphere'? Or are 'construction' and 'atmosphere' two separate qualities in the book? The present paper attempts to explore these questions by means of certain structuralist theories and methods, especially those of A. J. Greimas. The discussion will focus on applying stucturalist ideas to a reading of Le Carre's novel.

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