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George Smiley OBE is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Smiley is a career intelligence officer with 'The Circus', the British overseas intelligence agency. He is a central character in the novels Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, and Smiley's People, and a supporting character in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Looking Glass War, The Secret Pilgrim and A Legacy of Spies. The character has also appeared in a number of film, television, and radio adaptations of le Carré's books. Le Carré created Smiley as an intentional foil to James Bond, a character who he believed depicted an inaccurate and damaging version of espionage life. Short, overweight, balding, and bespectacled, Smiley is polite and self-effacing and frequently allows others to mistreat him, including his serially unfaithful wife, these traits mask his inner cunning, excellent memory, mastery of tradecraft, and occasional ruthlessness. His genius, coupled with other characters' willingness to underestimate him, allows Smiley to achieve his goals and ultimately become one of the most powerful spies in Britain. The character is held in high esteem in Britain, where he has become a pop-culture icon on par with Bond. The Guardian has called him 'the sort of spy [Britain] believes it ought to have: a bit shabby, academic, basically loyal, and sceptical of the enthusiasms of his political masters. ' Description In contrast to other spies of the era, Smiley is described as being short, overweight, balding, and middle aged, and he is frequently compared to either a toad or a mole. While cinematic adaptations tend to depict him in dark, three piece suits, the novels describe his clothing as being 'really bad', with other characters remarking that he 'dresses like a bookie', characters and narration clarify that this refers to his clothes being very loose and baggy, the result of his tailor taking advantage of Smiley's ignorance of men's fashion to charge him more money for the extra fabric. He wears thick, round glasses, (le Carré does not describe the style or nature of the spectacle frames) and tends to clean the lenses on the 'fat' end of his tie while contemplating something of great significance, the gesture is ubiquitous enough that other characters consider it to be something of a trademark.
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