A tea party in Hungary
Published: Tuesday, 08 March 2011 11:53
IT is a sunny spring afternoon in Buda. At the British Embassy they are giving a tea party. The guests, the Brits attending a conference in the town, are ushered through the magnificent old mansion, dating from the great days of the Austro-Hungarian empire. They admire the circular marble staircase and the Bluthner grand piano on which recitals are given from time to time.
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Spy Kim Philby - distrusted by his Russian masters
Published: Monday, 28 February 2011 13:00
NO THEME has preoccupied post-war British writers more than that of betrayal. It is arguable that Le Carre is our major post-war novelist and the figure of the spy is pervasive in the literature of our time. As in Le Carre's An Honourable Schoolboy, he is a metaphor for more general infidelities in an age that has seen the rapid loosening of marital and familial ties.
The figure of Kim Philby, in particular, continues to haunt the imagination. His extraordinary career has already been thoroughly documented, by the journalist Phillip Knightley and others, and most people are reasonably familiar with it in outline.
A convinced Marxist, he was recruited as a KGB agent while at Cambridge. He entered the British foreign service in 1941 and was first secretary at the British embassy in Washington from 1949 to 1951. After the defection to Moscow of Burgess and Maclean, his friendship with Burgess led to an investigation. Although nothing could be proved against him he was forced to resign. He went to the Middle East as Observer correspondent until he disappeared from Beirut in 1963, surfacing soon afterwards in Moscow as a KGB major-general and confirming that he had been the ''third man'' in the Burgess and Maclean case.
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