John le Carré is one of my favorite authors. This interview by George Plimpton does nothing more than increase my admiration of the man.
I grew up in a completely bookless household. It was my father’s boast that he had never read a book from end to end. I don’t remember any of his ladies being bookish. So I was entirely dependent on my schoolteachers for my early reading with the exception ofThe Wind in the Willows, which a stepmother read to me when I was in hospital. My earliest reading included Maugham, the heroic English storytellers—Henty, Sapper, Peter Cheyney, and thank heaven, the great and wonderful Conan Doyle. I graduated joyously to Dickens and erratically to Bernard Shaw and Galsworthy. And cautiously to the heavy contemporaries—Koestler, Gide, and Camus. But the big explosion in my reading occurred in my late teens when I was seduced by the German muse. I devoured the whole of German literature alive, as it seems to me now. I have probably read more German literature than I have English. Today my pleasure is with nineteenth-century storytellers: Balzac, Dickens, and the rest.