The Untouchable, Paperback
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


'The Untouchable is an engrossing, exquisitely written and almost bewilderingly smart book ...It's the fullest book I've read in a very long time, utterly accomplished, thoroughly readable, written by a novelist of vast talent' Richard Ford Victor Maskell has been betrayed.

After the announcement in the Commons and the hasty revelation of his double life of wartime espionage, his disgrace is public, his knighthood revoked, his position as curator of the Queen's pictures terminated.

There are questions to be answered. For whom has he been sacrificed? To what has he sacrificed his life? 'No novel burrowed deeper beneath my skin than The Untouchable ...Prose of great elegance, applied to a sardonic narrative, created an atmosphere at once austere, chilling and utterly believable' John Coldstream, Daily Telegraph 'Banville is the most intelligent and stylish novelist currently at work in English ...the mien is austere and Victorian; the awareness, the ironic readings of the contemporary are razor-sharp' George Steiner, Observer 'Brilliant displays of power and control ...magnificently written and, in its exploration of inhumanity, startlingly humane' Alex Clark, Guardian




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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

John Banville's style is sure-footed and careful. This novel is a great achievement but can be a little dry in places. The book is written as a roman à clef, presented from the point of view of the art historian, double agent and homosexual Victor Maskell—a character based on an amalgamation of the life of Cambridge spy Anthony Blunt, as well as on elements from the life of Irish poet Louis MacNeice. The character of Guy Burgess is prominent and easily identifiable, that of Maclean plays a minor role only. Don't read this as your first Banville unless you have a particular interest in the Blunt-Burgess stories.

Review by

This is a terrific reimagining of the life of Anthony Blunt, but although many of the historical events are shared, much of Victor Maskell's life and character is clearly fictional. I found it a bit difficult to get started, but once Maskell's mixture of stylish erudition, humour and ruthlessness became familiar, I found it enjoyable and entertaining - one of Banville's best creations.

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