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Old 02-19-2019, 09:02 PM   #62
gmw
cacoethes scribendi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
My memory of the timeline is a little shaky and the book has returned to the library so I can't check. Wasn't this after Giles set Toby on Quinn? Although once we find out more of Giles's backstory, I wonder that he'd want to rattle the cages at all (the decision he came to himself, eventually, but I think it would have been sooner). [...]
The quote was from the start of chapter two where Toby was first introduced. As I understand the slightly confused timeline of chapter two, at this point Toby had set up the recording of the meeting but not yet collected it. The operation itself had not yet gone ahead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victoria View Post
Wow - we’re almost polar opposites in how we rate the characters I thought Toby was supposed to be the hero and the actual reason for the story, while Quinn was the crook.
[...]
Thank you for your detailed response, it is interesting to see another take on the book.

I think my previous post was a little bit ... not tongue in cheek, but maybe devil's advocate. I can see how le Carré expected us to react, but as is my habit with books I'm not enjoying, I found my entertainment in being picky/contrary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victoria View Post
I also felt that we were asked to swallow a lot. Having Toby break the law by recording Quinn seems absurd when all he had to do was call up his boss and report Quinn’s behaviour. I decided that Le Carré was telling a fable or parable, so having it hang together logically wasn’t important to him. [...]
Yes, it seems to me that le Carré knew Toby was behaving strangely, he introduces Toby as a criminal. He then goes on to tell us how neglectful Toby is of his girlfriend (she calls him a "cold fish") - which, surely, cannot be intended to make us instantly like this character? We are also told:
Quote:
What had driven Toby’s ambition – what drove it still – was something he barely questioned. His schoolfriends had wished only to make money. Let them. Toby, though modesty forbade him to say so in so many words, wished to make a difference – or, as he had put it a little shamefacedly to his examiners, take part in his country’s discovery of its true identity in a post-imperial, post-Cold War world. Given his head, he would long ago have swept away Britain’s private education system, abolished all vestiges of entitlement and put the monarchy on a bicycle. Yet even while harbouring these seditious thoughts, the striver in him knew that his first aim must be to rise in the system he dreamed of liberating.
This paragraph, following on from the "criminal" paragraph, had me thinking we were looking at an actor, someone who was being a criminal because he wanted to act on his political beliefs.

But no. We skim across a career that seems quite passive, with little overt sign of political passion - making it seem like his girlfriend got it right. It's like we are told one thing but shown something else. And then the tape is collected and sat on for three years until someone else (Kit, acting out of character, it seemed to me) causes Toby to wake up and become heroic.

You can see that I really never "got" Toby as a character and that rather spoiled my reaction to the book.
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