Gentleman espion, les doubles vies d’Anthony Blunt
Until 1979 the public at large considered him as an eminent art historian, an outstanding connaisseur of Roman baroque and of Poussin, the director of the prestigious Institut Courtauld. Overnight, under pressure form Margaret Thatcher, just named Prime minister, he had to confess: yes, the fourth spy from the Cambridge group, who passed on so much information to the Soviet Union, next to Burgess, Maclean and Philby, was no one else but he, the unsuspicious learned scholar. The books unravels the threads of this surprising destiny, combining homosexual and intellectual friendships (Saxl and Wittkower, historians from the Warburg Institute fleeing nazism, writers Isherwood, Spender and Auden) up to his consecration as… curator of the paintings of the royal collection of England. Actually, the veil had been lifted in 1964: in exchange of a detailed confession (eight years of conversations with members from the MI5!), Blunt had been allowed to keep an honorable façade. It blew to pieces in 1979, thus ensuring him with a sad ending until his death in 1983.
• Gentleman spy, the double lives of Anthony Blunt, by Miranda Carter, translated from English by Bernard Blanc, Payot, ISBN : 2-228-90109-1, 560 p., 25 €
Review published in the newsletter #15 - from 21 September 2006 to 27 September 2006