RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

16 December 2011

John Le Carré

John Le Carré. THE LOOKING-GLASS WAR. Heinemann, London 1965.

Current Selling Prices
$60+ /£40+


I was chuffed to see a copy of this book making £840 at Dominic Winter yesterday. It was described thus:
Author's presentation copy, inscribed to title: "John Le Carre aka David Cornwell - with best wishes! Cornwall 2nd March '03. P.S. I'm not sure that poor George Smiley c[oul]d handle the present mess - I'm rather glad he hung up his boots! J.L.C." The inscription refers to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Le Carre, of course, was no fan of Blair - feeling he was America's poodle ('minstrel') in the Iraq war and called for him to resign as quickly and 'elegantly' as possible. The inscription is surprisingly restrained in view of this. It belies the old 'Flatsigned' axiom that a plain signature is worth more than an inscription as copies of the book merely signed by Le Carré can be had for £100. The egregious inventor of the word wrote an entire guide book where every plain signature was priced 25% higher than an inscription. Thus if Nelson Mandela inscribed a book to someone he had known in jail it would be trumped by a plain signature...

Not a scarce book but hard to find in faultless condition as the spine tends to fade, sometimes badly. The preceding book The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is also not scarce but worth ten times more. The jacket on the Spy did not change in any way for the first dozen or so printings so marriages are not uncommon, a fine jacket often covering a slightly tired looking book. Le Carre is a generous signer and late works signed can be had for £20 or less, however I think he will prove a good investment in the long term. The latest star heavy movie was well received. In it Gary Oldman (formerly Sid Vicious and Joe Orton) played the stolid George Smiley. According to Huffington at the UK premiere of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Oldman asked Le Carré if he liked what he'd seen. "I'm chuffed to fuck," came the reply.
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