The first full biography of Anthony Blunt by a brilliant new biographer. Anthony Blunt, aesthete, communist, homosexual, M15 agent and Soviet mole, was Surveyor of the King's Pictures and Director of the Courtauld Institute. Betrayed in 1963, he voted for Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Later that year, she was to expose his treachery and strip him of ...
The first full biography of Anthony Blunt by a brilliant new biographer. Anthony Blunt, aesthete, communist, homosexual, M15 agent and Soviet mole, was Surveyor of the King's Pictures and Director of the Courtauld Institute. Betrayed in 1963, he voted for Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Later that year, she was to expose his treachery and strip him of his knighthood. While the other Cambridge spies (Philby, Burgess and Maclean) subordinated their lives and careers to espionage, Blunt had a separate passionate existence. His reputation as an art historian was second to none: he made an enormous contribution to the establishment of art history as an academic discipline; his volumes on Poussin, French and Italian art and old master drawings are still in print and some are still set texts. At the Courtauld he trained a whole generation of world-class academics and curators. A human paradox, Blunt was a highly-regarded member of the British intelligentsia but his life as such and as a member of the British homosexual subculture of the 30s, 40s and 50s has hardly been explored. Miranda Carter's brilliantly insightful biography shows how his life vividly illustrates certain key themes and moments of the 20th century: intellectual, political, sexual and social. Blunt led two totally discrete lives, he was a set of permanent contradictions and illustrates, perhaps better than anyone, that there is no one key to any human being's identity: we are all a series of conflicting selves.
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-11-05 This engaging and important biography examines the many masks of the infamous Anthony Blunt (1907-1983), the Cambridge art historian turned spy who worked simultaneously for British Intelligence and the Soviet Union during WWII. Why did he betray his country? Carter provides an exhaustive psychological study of Blunt's early life. His brutalizing public school (where he was unhappy and unpopular), Carter argues, "inadvertently fostered a questioning and subversive attitude and a profound distrust of authority." When the Depression hit England in the 1930s and the specter of fascism threatened Europe, communism became fashionable among left-leaning intellectuals like Blunt and his Cambridge friend Guy Burgess. Blunt's homosexuality, like Burgess's, also appears to have alienated him from the establishment. During WWII, Blunt was assigned to British intelligence, giving him easy access to military secrets, which he smuggled to the Soviets. After his Cambridge spy friends Burgess, Donald MacLean and Kim Philby defected to the Soviet Union after the war, British Intelligence began investigating Blunt. In 1964, he was granted immunity in exchange for his confession and full cooperation. British intelligence worked hard to keep "the Blunt affair" a secret. He wasn't publicly exposed until 1979, when Margaret Thatcher denounced him. The biggest challenge any Blunt biographer faces is Blunt himself, a man of almost legendary emotional detachment. Blunt revealed little about his personal life, yet Carter has managed to bring readers as close to this enigmatic man as humanly possible. Thoroughly researched and carefully crafted, this is sure to be the definitive biography. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Jan.) Forecast: Blunt's story isn't quite the sensation here that it is in England; devotees of spy tales and contemporary British history will read this. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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