Myron Aronoff, born in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, in 1940. Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and from Manchester University. Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
Fellow (1 September 1996 – 30 June 1997)
I am delighted to report that I have succeeded in realising my initial plan for my academic year at NIAS – having completed a manuscript titled John le Carré’s Spy Novels: Balancing Ethics and Politics. This book examines the espionage novels of John le Carré focusing on key ethical dilemmas which confront citizens, particularly of democracies, when their states engage in espionage. Le Carré’s unique ethical critique, a kind of ambiguous moralism, and his balanced sceptical outlook are firmly grounded in his liberal temperament. Each of these key terms is defined and elucidated in the argument developed in the book. Le Carré’s ethical and political concerns are expressed through his character’s struggles to achieve a balance between the need to act in this world expressed through the spy, an extreme manifestation of the obligations of citizenship, and the need to protect one’s humanity and integrity. Following Irving Howe (1992), I give a political interpretation which emphasises the tensions in the novels produced when the characters confront ethical dilemmas and are forced to choose between competing moral imperatives, especially between the demands of conflicting personal and political loyalties. My reading of le Carré has interpreted his world of espionage as a metaphor for politics in general.