The Blunt Affair

Official secrecy and treason in literature, television and film, 1980-89

By Jonathan Bolton

The Blunt Affair


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4846-9
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: December 2020
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism, The Cold War, The arts / Film theory & criticism, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers


The case of the Cambridge spies has long captured the public's attention, but perhaps never more so than in the wake of Anthony Blunt's exposure as the fourth man in November 1979. With the Cold War intensifying, patriotism running high during the Falklands War and the AIDS crisis leading to widespread homophobia, these notorious traitors were more relevant than ever. This book explores how they were depicted in literature, television and film throughout the 1980s. Examining works by an array of distinguished writers, including Dennis Potter, Alan Bennett, Tom Stoppard and John le Carré, it sheds new light on the affair, asking why such privileged young men chose to betray their country, whether loyalty to one's friends is more important than patriotism and whether we can really trust the intelligence services.


Introduction: the Blunt Affair and its impact on literature, television and film in the 1980s
1 Tradition and treason in Dennis Potter's Blade on the Feather
2 School for scandal: Julian Mitchell's Another Country
3 Allegories of prudence: Alan Bennett's Single Spies
4 Tender comrades: friendship and treason in Robin Chapman's One of Us and Blunt - The Fourth Man
5 'Men of the middle ground': John le Carré's A Perfect Spy and the treachery of Kim Philby
6 The 'unsavoury' world of espionage: Tom Stoppard's The Dog It Was That Died
7 Secrecy, the State and the citizen: Hugh Whitemore's Pack of Lies, Concealed Enemies and Breaking the Code
8 Gentlemen's agreement: Scandal, the Profumo Affair and the end of the Cold War
Conclusion: 'getting at the darkness': poststructuralism and naturalism in literature, television and film in the 1980s


Jonathan Bolton is Hollifield Professor of English Literature at Auburn University

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