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SUMMARY The Untouchable

Inner of the Lannan Literary Award for FictionContemporary fiction gets no better than this Banville's books teem with life and humor Patrick McGrath The New York Times Book ReviewVictor Maskell is one of the great characters in recent fiction The Untouchable is the best work of art in any medium on its subject Washington Post Book WorldAs remarkable a literary voice as any to come out of Ireland; Joyce and Beckett notwithstanding San Francisco Chronicle. Metamorphosis is a painful process for Victor an art expert and ambitious man who turns to the life of a spy In the end his ambitions ruin him and his friends betray him His journey of exploration begins late when he has been ousted in public deserted and he tries to make sense of his life through his memoirs I imagine the exuisite agony of the caterpillar turning itself into a butterfly pushing out eye stalks pounding its fat cells into iridescent wing dust at last cracking the mother of pearl sheath and staggering upright on sticky hair s breadth legs drunken gasping dazed by the light What makes a person want to live a disguised life that the truth is elusive even to himself This seems to be the exploration for both character and reader a uestion never really answered and one that cannot be fully explained What is both appealing and shocking is to see Victor at one stage of his life try to find his truth even at the detriment of those he love This is a grim story about betrayal and trust booze and love sexuality and personal evolution and of course spiesThe older Victor looks retrospectively at his life with remarkable calm and wisdom for someone who is incredibly turmoiled and at a cross road his present tense narration is one I wanted to follow one I wish had grounding in the narrative Great hot waves of remembrance wash through me bringing images and sensations I would have thought I had entirely forgotten or successfully extirpated yet so sharp and vivid are they that I falter in my tracks with an inward gasp assailed by a sort of rapturous sorrow This has been a surprising fourth John Banville read for me The novel is layered in both narrative perspective and style that sometimes the switch in styles can be offsetting as if one is being thrown into another book Although it explored similar nuances of identity self and rumination like most of his novels this one had of an austere texture So far Shroud has been my favorite

FREE DOWNLOAD ´ DEALSONWINES.CO.UK ¶ John Banville

The Untouchable

One of the most dazzling and adventurous writers now working in English takes on the enigma of the Cambridge spies in a novel of exuisite menace biting social comedy and vertiginous moral complexity The narrator is the elderly Victor Maskell formerly of British intelligence for many years art expert to the ueen Now he has been unmasked as a Russian agent and subjected to a disgrace that is almost a kind of death But at whose instigationAs Maskell retrace. It took a while for the magic of this to work on me Initially I thought Banville s prose had the uality of bracken on a forest floor the light picks out some beautiful tones and textures but there was a pervading sense of brittle lifelessness I felt he wrote like someone who never leaves his study or perhaps never leaves his head But then all of a sudden just before world war two arrives it jumped into life and I very much doubt if I ll read a beautifully written novel this year It s not going to be everyone s cup of tea The narrator is just about as world weary and cynical as any voice in literature I ve come across The mood is very much autumnal Banville has created a fictitious Anthony Blunt one of the Cambridge spies and told his story in the form of a memoir what used to be called a roman a clef but now seems to be known as biographical fiction I guess the first uestion one asks is why bother giving Blunt a fictitious name It gives Banville licence to make things up which means you end up curious about Blunt than feeling secure he s been explained to you This was a little about annoying as if I now have to read another book about him At the same time Banville s character is one of the most memorable and thought provoking I ve encountered for ages He s given us a brilliantly complex portrait of a man who defines many characteristics and contradictions of the age in which he lived The most fascinating thing about Banville s Blunt is that there s nothing passionate about his politics He doesn t at any point come across as a man driven by ideology It s like being a spy for the communists is a thrilling dangerous game for him And that the subterfuge fulfils a deep need of his nature Blunt was also homosexual and the two occupations have many parallels the need of a bogus convincing fa ade the necessity of whispering of being vigilant to your surroundings of gravitating towards dark secret places of carrying around the tension of imminent catastrophic betrayal at every moment At the heart of this novel is a painting Blunt buys and loves as a young man It s believed to be a Poussin but has never been authenticated The authenticity or not of this painting becomes and related to the authenticity of Blunt himself as the novel progresses is there any connection between his inner and outer life Does he even have an inner life At times it seems not He takes no interest in his children I don t think Anthony Blunt had a wife or children in real life he is driven by lust not love he is a snob he notices surfaces especially weather but seems to have little empathy for people His only true passion is for art and particularly Poussin who he writes about and becomes an expert on So you have the sense that the only thing holding Blunt together is the hope that his painting is authentic It s an exciting moment in the novel when we find out if it s authentic or not

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S his tortuous path from his recruitment at Cambridge to the airless upper regions of the establishment we discover a figure of manifold doubleness Irishman and Englishman; husband father and lover of men; betrayer and dupe Beautifully written filled with convincing fictional portraits of Maskell's co conspirators and vibrant with the mysteries of loyalty and identity The Untouchable places John Banville in the select company of both Conrad and le CarreW. It seems like I have been reading this forever The story is confusing but the writing is glorious Reading Banville is like reading a text book for writers But you have to read slowly savoring the word choices and images It s best to read on kindle with dictionary at hand


10 thoughts on “The Untouchable

  1. says:

    It took a while for the magic of this to work on me Initially I thought Banville’s prose had the uality of bra

  2. says:

    After reading something written so well it’s a disappointment having only my own less elouent words available to praise it Maybe it’s better to let Banville’s passages sell themselves I’ll get to those soon but first a bit of context The book I learned only today is a Roman a clef or less a true account of the infamous Cambridge spies

  3. says:

    This is my second try with John Banville Once again he impresses me with his ability to write nearly perfect prose and characters who are as flesh and blood and flawed as any who ever breathed while completely bo

  4. says:

    ALL HIGH TALK AND LOW FROLICSPart I My Other Secret LifeI first encountered the Judge professionally in CourtEarly in my career I appeared in th

  5. says:

    It seems like I have been reading this forever The story is confusing but the writing is glorious Reading Banville is like reading a text book for writers But you have to read slowly savoring the word choices and images It's best to read on kindle with dictionary at hand

  6. says:

    As readers we have all experienced or come across books that either make a siren call to us which we can’t ign

  7. says:

    Metamorphosis is a painful process for Victor an art expert and ambitious man who turns to the life of a spy In the end his ambitions ruin hi

  8. says:

    This is a great novel based on a blending of the lives of several real life British men “The Cambridge Five” who were spies for the Soviets in the 1930’s through the 1950’s Our main character given the name Victor Maskell is a gay man who found out he was gay only after being married and having two kids This was a

  9. says:

    What forces a person to betray his country? Where do all the spies come from? What makes them ticking? Some true espionage stories are much stranger than fiction especially when the tale is told by such master as J

  10. says:

    I've been spending the last month reading novels written by John Banville It's fun with authors that have multiple works to stick with them one after another for a while to glimpse their depth and soak their craft

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Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans.