Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre

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.

There was a short pause, illuminated by the vision of Ricki Tarr and his Moscow Centre mistress kneeling side by side in the rear pew of a Baptist church in Hong Kong.

It’s the oldest question of all, George. Who can spy on the spies? Who can smell out the fox without running with him?”

Not of course that she knew anything, but what woman was ever stopped by a want of information?

“Reason as logic, or reason as motive?”

To Guillam, Haydon was of that unrepeatable, fading Circus generation, to which his parents and George Smiley also belonged—exclusive and, in Haydon’s case, blue-blooded—which had lived a dozen leisured lives to his own hasty one, and still, thirty years later, gave the Circus its dying flavour of adventure.

He prided himself on his delicate touch in such things, but Camilla had no use for it; technique was already a compromise, a compromise with reality—she would say an escape from it.

I’m too vain to be flattered, too old to be ambitious, and I’m ugly as a crab.

He loved success, but he detested miracles if they put the rest of his endeavour out of focus.

If you ever want to get out of Switzerland in a hurry, you pay your bills first.

Learn the facts, Steed-Asprey used to say, then try on the stories like clothes.

A committee is an animal with four back legs.

Survival, as Jim Prideaux liked to recall, is an infinite capacity for suspicion.

he wondered whether there was any love between human beings that did not rest upon some sort of self-delusion;