John Banville: The Untouchable

(2247 words)
  • Pietra Palazzolo (University of Essex)

The Untouchable (1997), Banville’s tenth novel, dissects characteristics of deceit and betrayal through the fictionalisation behind the novel’s protagonist, Victor Maskell, of Anthony Blunt (1907-1983), the distinguished art historian who was director of London’s prestigious Courtauld Institute of Art (1947-74) and Surveyor of the King’s (later Queen’s) Pictures (1945-72). Blunt was also a communist sympathizer who was an influential member of “the Apostles”, a secret society at Cambridge University many of whose members were homosexual and would become spies for the Soviet Union. Blunt was recruited by the NKVD in 1933 but only revealed to have been the “Fourth Man” of the Cambridge spy circle in 1979 by …

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Palazzolo, Pietra. "The Untouchable". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 October 2007
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]