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Outlaws and SpiesLegal Exclusion in Law and Literature$
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Conor McCarthy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474455930

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474455930.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

‘We’re Not Policemen’: Espionage and Law in John le Carré

‘We’re Not Policemen’: Espionage and Law in John le Carré

(p.107) 4 ‘We’re Not Policemen’: Espionage and Law in John le Carré
Outlaws and Spies

Conor McCarthy

Edinburgh University Press

The second part of the book turns to a discussion of extralegality and espionage, beginning with a reading of three novels by John le Carré set against the background of historical events – the construction of the Berlin Wall, the exposure of the Cambridge spy ring, and the practice of extraordinary rendition during the War on Terror. In The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Alec Leamas is disgraced, abandoned, imprisoned, exiled, and finally betrayed, an abjected figure akin to Agamben’s homo sacer, a figure as excluded as any outlaw. In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, George Smiley is a liminal figure, an unconstitutional detective investigating a case of treason within what is, in this period, an intelligence agency unrecognised by law. This chapter concludes with a discussion of extraordinary rendition as outlawry in contemporary form via a reading of le Carré’s 2008 novel A Most Wanted Man. Here we can see the state acting outside of legal constraints via its intelligence agencies, while also seeking to situate particular individuals outside the reach of the law. Together, these forms of exclusion from law constitute new and troubling forms of outlawry that are alive and well in the twenty-first century West.

Keywords:   Spies, Espionage, John le Carré, Giorgio Agamben, Homo sacer, Cold War, War on Terror, Extraordinary rendition

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