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Quotes

George Smiley: Have you noticed, Peter, that whenever I really trouble one of our acquaintances with my questions, he'll raise the matter of my failure as a husband... to confound me. Instructive.

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Peter Guillam: So Karla's fireproof. He can't be bought, and he can't be beaten.

George Smiley: NOT fireproof! Because's he's a fanatic! I may have acted like a soft dolt, the very archetype of a flabby Western liberal but I'd rather be my kind of fool than his. One day that lack of moderation will be Karla's downfall.

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Peter Guillam: [to Mendel, faking a phone call] Well, at least get on to the head of office today and find out when they can supply the damn things!

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Toby Esterhase: Peter, I am very sorry to disturb you, but we have a crisis. Percy Allenine would like a word with you.

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Peter Guillam: [to Esterhase, about Skordeno] Paul and I were paired together at a tough-guy course. We all but killed each other.

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Percy Alleline: What the hell are you shrugging at us like that for? I'm accusing you of playing hooky behind our back with a damn defector from your own damn section, of playing damn-fool parlour games when you don't know the stakes! And all you do is shrug at me? There's a law, Guillam, against consorting with enemy agents! You want me to throw the book at you?

Peter Guillam: I haven't seen him! If anybody's playing parlour games it's not me, it's you! So get off my back!

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Bill Haydon: Stupid bloody cabaret. Percy's getting more insufferable every day.

Peter Guillam: I wouldn't know, would I?

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Peter Guillam: [fuming] That bastard Tarr...!

George Smiley: Peter, slow down. Slow down!

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George Smiley: Ricki Tarr has not lied to us, not in any material way. He has simply done what agents the world over do: he has failed to tell us the whole story.

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George Smiley: [to Karla] Look, I am not offering you money or hot women or fast cars, you have no use for such things. And I am not going to make any claims about the moral superiority of the West. I'm sure you can see through our values, just as I can see through yours in the East. You and I have spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in each other's systems. I'm sure each of us experienced innumerable technical satisfactions in our wretched cold war. But now your own side is going to shoot you, for nothing. For misdemeanors you have not committed, because of a power struggle within your own kind, because of someone's suspicions or sheer incompetence.

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Peter Guillam: [on Smiley's meeting Karla] What did Control say?

George Smiley: He said, "I hope to God they do shoot him."

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George Smiley: How do you feel, Peter?

Peter Guillam: I'm all right.

George Smiley: After Delhi, you know, Control gave me three months leave without the option. When this is over, I hope you'll take it easy for a while. We're not quite there yet, but nearly. Peter, have you got the handbrake on?

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George Smiley: [Hearing of Irina's execution] Ricky Tarr mustn't know. It's vital that he gets no wind of this! God knows what he would or would not do if he found out, and we may need to make further use of him.

Peter Guillam: Do you really believe all that guff about Tarr being in love with her? The little homestead in the Highlands? The avenging lover, the honourable Ricky Tarr?

George Smiley: He may be compelled, Peter, everyone has a loyalty somewhere. He mustn't know.

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Sir Oliver Lacon: Prideaux and Bill Haydon were very... very close together.

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[last lines]

Mendel: [about Jim Prideaux] We've traced him. He's become a teacher, Thursgood's Catholic School for Boys. It's in West Country.

Sir Oliver Lacon: Right!

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Mendel: [about Guillam] He does sound jumpy. He might have overdone it a bit there. He was very loud. I've seen it all before, tough ones who crack at 40. They lock it away, pretend it isn't happening, all of a sudden you find 'em sat in front of their desks, the tears pouring on the blotter.

[Smiley looks at him critically]

Mendel: I think I should say what's on my mind.

George Smiley: I think Peter will manage. You heard something about his murderous assignment in French North Africa, I suppose?

Mendel: Something. Whispers.

George Smiley: Peter was over-matched, and lost. His agents were hanged. No one recovers entirely from that sort of thing. That is, I wouldn't trust a man who did.

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Percy Alleline: Well, now, young Peter Guillam, welcome to my house, about which you've been making calls, I hear. Are you lonely in the Brixton outposts? Tired of chasing the local virgins? If there are any in Brixton, which I would doubt!

Percy Alleline: If you'll excuse my freedom, Mo. You DO know that Mo Delaware is our new Head of Research, don't you? Man with message in cleft stick does reach Brixton, does he?

Peter Guillam: Barring the monsoon.

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[after attacking Smiley]

Ricki Tarr: Maybe you'd better keep an eye on your own damn woman and leave mine alone!

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