The Art of Indirection in British Espionage Fiction

A Critical Study of Six Novelists


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About the Book

In contrast to the classical detective story, the spy novel tends to be considered a suspect, somewhat subversive genre. While previous studies have focused on its historical, thematic, and ideological dimensions, this critical work examines British espionage fiction’s unique narrative form, which is typically elliptical, oblique, and recursive. Featured works include eighteen novels by Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Len Deighton, John le Carré, Stella Rimington, and Charles Cumming, most of which exemplify the existential or serious spy thriller. Half of these texts pertain to the Cold War era and the other half to its aftermath in the so-called “Age of Terrorism.”

About the Author(s)

Robert Lance Snyder is Professor Emeritus of English, University of West Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

Robert Lance Snyder
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 225
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6379-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8713-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction: Reconnoitering a Disreputable Genre      3

1. Eric Ambler’s Revisionist Thrillers      23
2. Graham Greene’s World of Loyalty and Betrayal      46
3. Len Deighton’s Cold War Triptych      88
4. John le Carré’s Post–Cold War Labyrinths      112
5. Stella Rimington’s Feminist Espionage Fiction      146
6. Charles Cumming’s Contemporary Vision      169

Afterword: A Non-Conclusion      187
Chapter Notes      193
Bibliography      205
Index      213