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Mike Schilling

Mike has been a software engineer far longer than he would like to admit. He has strong opinions on baseball, software, science fiction, comedy, contract bridge, and European history, any of which he's willing to share with almost no prompting whatsoever.

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  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    One thing I sort of enjoyed was, upon finally meeting Percy Alleline in person, Le Carré doesn’t take the easy American way of constructing a narrative. We’ve encountered plenty of snobbery aimed at Alleline before, resentment that he’s rising above his station in life and grasping at a knighthood for which others feel his blood is insufficiently blue. So in a story written with an American sensibility, Alleline would be highly competent, having earned his way to the top; he’d be the one whose intent is good all along, a patriot and either a hero or a stand-up guy who comes through in the end. We’d like him and see the more genteel Englishmen in the Circus as snobs who need to get the hell over themselves.

    But in fact, Alleline is more than a bit of an asshole. Smiley’s assessment of him as a grasper, someone battling his own internal feelings of inferiority feels right. Which doesn’t necessarily make him the traitor, but also doesn’t necessarily exclude him from being the traitor, either.

    I’m going to go on in the spoilered section below to say who I think Gerald is.

    Now, seems to me that we’re being set up to think that not only is Merlin running Gerald (rather the other way around) but we also kind of want Alleline to wind up being Gerald because Alleline is so disagreeable. Gerald is obviously very good at this spying business, and someone who is intimately involved in Witchcraft, so that there are really only two candidates — Percy Alleline, who runs the op, or Bill Haydon, who goes out in the field to retrieve the information. As narrative hints and general dislike point to Alleline, my money is on Haydon. Haydon is the one going to all sorts of places across Europe to meet the multiple “Merlins” who are probably really only couriers from the Moscow Centre being run by Karla.

    Which makes me wonder if Haydon’s affair with Smiley’s easily-seducable wife is part of Karla’s plan: having brought down Control by drying out or eliminating all of Control’s sources, and then having made the Circus dependent upon Witchcraft as its primary source of information, Karla directs Gerald to neutralize Smiley by hitting him where he is most vulnerable: by cuckolding him. Now, this may all turn out to be as wild a speculation as R2-D2 being the true leader of the Rebel Alliance, but that’s where my mind is now.Report

  2. Avatar James K says:

    It’s fascinating watching Smiley digging though the records, putting things together.Report

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