The Honourable Schoolboy

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The Honourable Schoolboy
First edition (UK)
First edition
AuthorJohn le Carré
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Karla Trilogy
GenreSpy novel
PublisherHodder & Stoughton
Publication date1977
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
ISBNISBN 1-135-43056-X (first edition, hardback)
Preceded byTinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Followed bySmiley's People
 
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The Honourable Schoolboy
First edition (UK)
First edition
AuthorJohn le Carré
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Karla Trilogy
GenreSpy novel
PublisherHodder & Stoughton
Publication date1977
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
ISBNISBN 1-135-43056-X (first edition, hardback)
Preceded byTinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Followed bySmiley's People

The Honourable Schoolboy (1977) is a spy novel by John le Carré. George Smiley tries to reconstruct an intelligence service and to run a successful offensive espionage operation to save the service from falling to the "war hawks" in government. The "Honourable Schoolboy" of the title is Gerald Westerby, a British spy sent to Hong Kong.

The Honourable Schoolboy is the second novel of the informal "Karla Trilogy" and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 1977. It was later anthologised in The Quest for Karla (1982), an omnibus edition of the Smiley books.

Synopsis[edit]

In 1974, George Smiley, the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, or the "Circus", investigates his own spy service in the aftermath of capturing a Soviet mole within its prior leadership. He seeks clues to the trail of Karla, his KGB counterpart and nemesis. To protect the politically weakened spy service from war hawks, Smiley must launch a successful offensive against the Soviets. To that end, he and analysts Connie Sachs and Doc di Salis look into investigations unreasonably suppressed by Bill Haydon, the outed mole. They discover Sam Collins' investigation of a money laundering operation in Laos which points to involvement by Karla.

Collins' investigations prompt Smiley to recall Westerby – The Honourable Gerald "Jerry" Westerby, a former newspaper reporter and occasional Circus operative – and dispatch him to Hong Kong. Westerby blackmails a banker for photographs relating to the Laotian account where the Soviet money is transmitted. The photographs reveal that it includes only the name of the holder, Drake Ko. Parallel investigations in Hong Kong and London identify a woman named Elizabeth Worthington as Ko's blonde girlfriend, Liese Worth. Worthington was previously the girlfriend of a bush pilot, Tony Ricardo, and thinks herself a British intelligence agent.

US intelligence reports that Ricardo has approached them with information about an opium cargo he was to fly to China. The Americans want to arrest Ko, but first allow Smiley up to twelve weeks to pursue Circus interests. Smiley quickly realises that Tiu, Ko's second-in-command, travelled to Shanghai six weeks before Ricardo's scheduled flight to China to meet with Ko's brother, Nelson, a high-ranking Chinese official who is also a Soviet spy; Tiu was to arrange their rendezvous, through which Nelson would escape China.

Smiley decides to force Ko to react to surveillance. Westerby manœuvres Worthington to dinner. She calls Tiu to the restaurant; before he arrives, Westerby interviews her about about the connection between Ricardo's Indocharter Air Transport and the Soviet embassy. Surprised and personally relieved, Westerby notes her ignorance of Nelson and of the Soviet connection.

On Circus' orders, Westerby finds bush pilot-opium smuggler Charlie Marshall in Cambodia and manages to board a flight he is piloting to Phnom Penh. Ricardo is also aboard, but Westerby doesn't grasp who he is until arriving; in evading him, Ricardo shoots at Westerby. That night, Westerby interrogates Marshall, learning that Worthington was a heroin courier for Collins; that she directly intervened with Ko on Ricardo's behalf; that Marshall rejected Tiu's offer of $5,000 for a flight; and where Ricardo hides between flights.

Westerby pursues Ricardo into Thailand; Ricardo tells Westerby that Tiu, on Ko's behalf, hired Ricardo to fly opium into China and pick up a package; instead of completing the job, Ricardo stole the opium and the plane and went into hiding. Westerby tells Ricardo that Nelson was the package. Ricardo again tries to kill Westerby.

On 30 April 1975 Westerby arrives at a US air force base and reports to the Circus. In turn, Circus orders his direct return to London. Disobeying, Westerby finds the corpse of his photojournalist roommate Luke who has been shot.

Smiley, Guillam, and Fawn (Smiley's factotum-bodyguard) along with CIA agents Martello and Murphy travel to Hong Kong to capture Nelson. Smiley knows that he will escape China (as Drake did in 1951) on a fishing junk, heading to the southernmost island of Po Toi.

On the run, Westerby's schoolboy romanticism keeps him in Hong Kong – to rescue Lizzie Worthington and to protect Nelson, while the CIA spies on Drake. They go to her apartment; Smiley enters unannounced, and Westerby, expecting either Drake or Tiu, assaults him, before realising his identity. Smiley orders Westerby sent to London but Westerby escapes, gets Lizzie, and they take a boat to Po Toi. There, she shows him the places special to Drake, helping Westerby to determine where Nelson will land from China. After arranging a night rendezvous the following night, Lizzie returns to Hong Kong.

That night on Po Toi island, Westerby finds Drake and Tiu at the beach, awaiting Nelson. After disarming and disabling Tiu, Westerby tells Drake that he wants Lizzie for himself, in exchange for saving Nelson from the Westerners. Drake is sceptical and hesitates. Just as Nelson lands, American helicopters appear and capture him. As they pull away, Fawn kills Westerby.

The CIA detains and interrogates Nelson; his interrogators do not include di Salis and Sachs. The operation yields top Circus jobs for Enderby and Collins. Enderby becomes Chief of the Circus, and Collins his Director of Operations. Smiley and Connie Sachs are forcibly retired with pensions, and Peter Guillam is demoted to head the scalphunters in Brixton - the position he held at the beginning of the Karla trilogy.

"Circus" jargon[edit]

The characters' jargon-heavy dialogue establishes the fictional authenticity of the espionage portrayed in The Honourable Schoolboy; examples of John le Carré's tradecraft language are:

Tradecraft termDefinition
AgentAn external, freelance person recruited to provide information and services; Circus staff are referred to as intelligence officers.
BurrowersCircus researchers, usually academics recruited from universities.
CircusThe in-house name for MI6, the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) which collects foreign intelligence. "Circus" refers to the SIS's London locale at Cambridge Circus.
The CompetitionMI5, the internal UK counter-espionage and counter-terrorism security service, whom the Circus often calls "The Security Mob".
The CousinsThe CIA in particular, and US intelligences services in general.
FerretsTechnicians responsible for finding and removing hidden microphones, cameras and other surveillance devices.
HousekeepersInternal auditors and disciplinary staff of the Circus.
JanitorsOperations staff
LamplightersControl surveillance and couriers.
MothersSecretaries and trusted typists serving the head of the Circus.
Nuts and BoltsEngineers who develop and manufacture espionage devices.
Pavement ArtistsCircus officers responsible for covert street surveillance.
ScalphuntersSection responsible for assassinations, counter-espionage, burglaries, kidnappings and other aggressive measures, that was sidelined after Control's dismissal.
ShoemakersCircus forgers
BabysittersBodyguards
WranglersRadio signal analysts and cryptographers; the name derives from Wrangler maths students.

Characters[edit]

The Circus

The Steering Committee (authorising further operations after the Ko bank account papers are obtained)

Other characters

Adaptations[edit]

Jonathan Powell, producer of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979), said the BBC considered producing The Honourable Schoolboy but a production in South East Asia was considered prohibitively expensive and therefore the BBC instead adapted the third novel of the Karla Trilogy Smiley's People (1979) which was transmitted in 1982. In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, casting Joss Ackland in the minor role of Jerry Westerby was logical, if the original intent was retaining him as the protagonist of a television adaptation of The Honourable Schoolboy novel.[citation needed]

In 1983 the BBC adapted The Honourable Schoolboy to radio. Martin Jarvis played Jerry Westerby and Peter Vaughan played "George Smiley".[2] A subsequent BBC radio adaptation, first broadcast in 2010 in the Classic Serial slot, featured Simon Russell Beale as George Smiley and Hugh Bonneville as Jerry Westerby, as part of Radio 4's year-long project to adapt all eight Smiley novels.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'There is the great Dick Hughes, whose outward character and mannerisms I have shamelessly exaggerated for the part of old Craw' (Author's Foreword)
  2. ^ "radio plays,DIVERSITY WEBSITE,bbc,radio drama,saturday night theatre – Lost, 1988–1970". Suttonelms.org.uk. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  3. ^ – 05:20. "Radio 4 – Drama – The Complete Smiley". BBC. Retrieved 21 January 2013.