Rupert Christiansen

Close Up But Eerily Distant

Bill Brandt: A Life

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Behind The Camera: Bill Brandt

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BILL BRANDT LIVED most of his life in exile, but never regarded this as a tragedy: on the contrary, it was something he neither discussed nor acknowledged. Other victims of the twentieth-century diaspora might feel a sense of loss, nostalgia or self-division; Brandt simply and ruthlessly sought to eliminate all traces of his German birth and upbringing. Instead he carefully constructed himself a new persona: an English gentleman of the urbane upper-middle class, betrayed only by a slight but unmistakable accent. To some extent, it was a game; as Paul Delany puts it in this superb new biography, ‘he was a man who loved secrets and needed them.’

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