Ian Fleming

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Ian Fleming

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març 21, 2007, 9:38pm

After I saw the new Bond film with Daniel Craig (the English Steve McQueen) in the lead, I had to check out a couple of the books to see how they held up. First I read “Casino Royale”, the first in the series and a tight little thriller, which surprisingly had only one setting to speak of. No grand globetrotting yarn here. Then I went to “Goldfinger”. Now this was more like it. Grand schemes, varied exotic locales, outrageous villains, and the plot goes off at a good clip. But….in amongst this quality escapism you trip over nuggets of primitive opinion that’s blatantly racist, chauvinistic and sexist. This passage toward the end of the book, really takes the prize though:

“Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well, and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality’. As a result of 50 years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out, or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits – barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied.. He was sorry for them, but he had no time for them.”

In one paragraph Ian Fleming trashes feminism, homosexuality and women’s suffrage!

Can group members offer up their thoughts on this? Should a reader devote time to a writer with such crude views? Are they just a reflection of the period in which he wrote? Can a book entertain while being politically incorrect? My answer to the last question is, “Yes.” If Bond is speaking for Fleming, then the authors views can be considered pretty comical, and for me they spice up what’s already a tangy entertainment. What do YOU think?

març 26, 2007, 4:27am

I suspect they are just a reflection of the period when they were written - 60s? maybe early 70s?

No worse than Biggles or the Famous Five etc.

Yes they can be entertaining despite this, but are probably more entertaining without it!

I don't think such views "spice up" the entertainment though, other than making one laugh. And it isn't really a laughing matter.

març 26, 2007, 10:08am

No, Ian Fleming died in 1964.

A couple of books thrown out there after he died, but at least half from memory are from the 50s.

Anything after the mid-60s is by other writers. Late sixties was when Kingsley Amis did his I think.

The only Bond books in the 70s I think, were the two Christopher Wood novelisations James Bond and Moonraker and James Bond, the Spy Who Loved Me

març 26, 2007, 10:13am

Ah the joys of LT, I don't even need to google for information, there is always some 'besserwisser' with the information to hand.

I (obviously) didn't realise they were that old. Makes it even more likely that it is just the prevailing opinion of the times.

març 26, 2007, 8:52pm

Goldfinger came out in 1959. reading_fox I agree those sentiments are no laughing matter. That said, Bond books are period pieces in way, and I guess along with the outdated technology and customs can be a few threadbare convictions. Sorry, but I just found those convictions so primitive, my reaction to them was one of amusement.

març 26, 2007, 9:03pm

i also find him extremely amusing -- the complete opposite of more serious writers like John le Carre.

març 27, 2007, 7:43pm

Fleming/Le Carre = Style/Substance.....but there's a place for style just as there is for substance. Can anyone think of a writer who offers style AND substance?

març 27, 2007, 7:53pm

John le Carre - i like his style ;-)

But, to the rest of the readers -- anybody else?

Editat: març 31, 2007, 3:39am

Nothing to show, just an eyelid flickering and the sudden awareness of a composite personality - "we," "us," "our," because the shadow executive, creeping alone through the maze where his work has led him, cat-nerved and ferret-quick, sniffing the damp and the dark and ready to run, ready to kill, comes inevitably to know the plurality of the creature that lives alone and close to death, the mind busy with logic, talking to itself and reasoning the way ahead while the flesh chills and the body pleads for life, go back, go back while there's time, and the psyche calls for courage, go on, go on while we can, calling sometimes for more than that, for everything, banners raised and bugles sounding, forward my friend to a fool's death and cheap at the price, out of pride. Adam Hall in The Mandarin Cypher

març 31, 2007, 6:07am

Urk. Someone buy the guy a full stop.

març 31, 2007, 6:20pm

A full stop....and some context!

març 31, 2007, 11:45pm

Come on guys, tell me what you really think.

abr. 1, 2007, 12:05am

Ok. I think I wouldn't want to read a book full of that.

Hopefully that is an extreme example? :)

Is this the Quiller guy? I haven't read any of those.

abr. 1, 2007, 12:31am

Yep, that's the Quiller guy. Got hooked 25 years ago and have read every one of them 3 or 4 times. I wouldn't call my post above an extreme example but the books are certainly not full of these. They come along now and then in each novel though. His real name was Elliston Trevor and he wrote under several names - but only wrote these run-ons as Adam Hall - as far as I can tell.

abr. 1, 2007, 12:56am

What sort of stories are they then?

abr. 1, 2007, 1:28am

Quiller is a good old-fashioned cold war spy. He's works for the "Bureau" - a British gov't department that officially doesn't exist. Great lone wolf spy stuff - all in first person by the way. (Apologies to David1312 if thread "hijacking" is considered inappropriate here -this qualifies as my first "discussion" as an LTer!)

17Arco-Iris Primer missatge
abr. 1, 2007, 9:48am

Just about to catalogue more books, and had a peek on this thread as I came across my Len Deighton books....

9 books (3 x trilogies) about Bernard Samson and his doings in the British Secret Service. Style and substance.

Editat: abr. 1, 2007, 10:03am

Fleming never meant Bond to be taken seriously. He wrote the series as a means of escapism from the duties of marraige and family. Also, remember that these books were written in the fifties and sixties when attitudes were far different. Should we not read Shakespeare because he reflected the prejudices of his time? Should we condemn him because female actresses were not permitted at the Globe theater?

Nevertheless, I devoured Fleming and Bond at a certain stage of adolescense and really believed in the uber-menshen spy. I am much wiser today, and certainly don't believe that the perfect women is one who makes a mean sauce bernaise and gives one a great ride in the bedroom. I look for other attributes too. But, that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy Bond on the level of a spy thriller.

abr. 1, 2007, 10:03am

Yeah, those are more on the Le Carre little smart guy nasty realistic bureaucracy end of the spectrum, as opposed to the Fleming superhero, for sure.

I think I got through up to part of the second trilogy. Is the third one any good?

abr. 1, 2007, 7:08pm

18 - What in the world would be wrong with that woman?

abr. 1, 2007, 9:15pm

I had no idea that Adam Hall was really Elliston Trevor. I remember as a teenager reading his book The Freebooters and being shocked when I came across the "F" word for the first time in print. And as I write I see LT's touchstone citing Adam Hall as the author. I know the edition of The Freebooters I read had Elliston Trevor as the author, but that was in the UK. The American edition could be different. I believe Trevor also wrote The Flight of the Phoenix which was made into two different movies. And Look at that! The touchstone shows I'm right. Amazing! Anyway, thanks seanpost.

abr. 2, 2007, 6:55pm

After Quiller gained some notoriety, several of Trevor's previous books were reprinted under the Hall name. I also have all 5 of the Hugo Bishop series that Trevor originally published as Simon Rattray(the touchstone immediately displayed Adam Hall). The editions I have all are "by" Adam Hall. Over the years, I've seen at least 8 names that Trevor used.

maig 19, 2007, 3:15pm

I've never read Ian Fleming, despite being a heavy viewer of the Bond films. I hope to rectify that soon, although I'm really more inclined towards the bureaucratic wranglings to be found in John Le Carre.

Another part of the latter's appeal for me is a certain conjunction between his politics and mine. Whenever critics bring up Le Carre's "moral equivalence," I don't really have a big problem with that, I must admit!

I do feel frustrated--no fault of any member here--about the fact that I can't bring myself to start reading my Len Deighton novels--Berlin Game and Mexico Set--just because I can't find a copy of London Match anywhere here.

Finally, it's nice to see a mention of the Quiller novels here--those are the ones I read when I'm hoping for a little "action." Funny too that, in some ways, I feel that part of what dates the Hall novels--which isn't a bad thing, I might add--is the sometimes mystical take on martial arts that isn't really all too hip these days, at least in contemporary spy thrillers.

24swelldame Primer missatge
maig 19, 2007, 4:03pm

I’ve just recently started to get into the Bond novels (though always a lover of the movies). I totally dig them, because they’re stylish and fun.

But, yeah, I wouldn’t exactly call them PC. I haven’t read "Goldfinger" yet (which was apparently was started off this whole thread), but I can tell you that "Live and Let Die" is a real doozy when it comes to offensive sexism and racism. Like someone already said, though, they’re really a reflection of the times they were written and in retrospect almost silly.

Funny thing is, I almost always end up feeling sorry for Bond. The guy just seems so clueless about human nature. Darn stylish though.

As for Le Carre, loved loved loved "The Constant Gardener".

des. 18, 2009, 1:28pm

Although she rejected the wooing of philanderer Ian Fleming, Dame Paddy Ridsdale still managed to inspire him to make her the model for Miss Moneypenny. She, unfortunately, has just passed away. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article6962032.ece

oct. 8, 2010, 3:26pm

Hello alltogether,

I´m collecting the James Bond books since my father was lucky to pick one from a bum on the street selling old books for half an Euro.
Since then, I´m checking every rummage table since it is impossible to find new editions except for Casino Royal in Germany. After some years, I own three versions of Goldfinger.

Now to the question: Has anyone of you read From a view to a kill ?
Because I´ve heard, that this is just a selection of short stories. I´d be interrested to know.

oct. 12, 2010, 6:32pm

I see this thread just got re-animated. I just finished the non-fiction Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage by Joseph Persico. Fleming is mentioned quite a few times as working for British WW2-era intelligence.

març 27, 2014, 4:18am

A collection of Ian Fleming's love letters to Edith Morpurgo, the daughter of a Salzburg businessman, are being offered at auction next week, according to an article in yesterday's Guardian. The letters date from the early 1930s, and are written in German. Perhaps it's too early in the morning and my sense of humour hasn't got up yet, but I think the picture the letters paint of Ian Fleming's character is almost as unappealing as that of James Bond's character in #1.

abr. 1, 2014, 12:48am

Recently read A Gathering of Saints by Christopher Hyde and Ian Fleming was a character in the story.

març 2, 2016, 10:32pm

I'm listening to the audio book Octopossy and The Living Daylights, and Other Stories. So far I've listened to Octopussy and I'm halfway through Portrait of a Lady, which is also in this collection. Three of the four stories are narrated by Tom Hiddleston, and he's an amazing reader! The other is narrated by Lucy Fleming, British actress and niece of Ian Fleming. I haven't gotten to that one yet.

This is my first foray into any Bond fiction; I was inspired by the fact that Hiddleston was the reader, and recently rewatching Daniel Craig in the latest film, Spectre. I love the consistency and arc storyline of Craig's four Bond films; they're the first films in the franchise to make me take the character seriously.

I'm dismayed by the paragraph quoted above from Goldfinger, I have to admit!

Editat: març 4, 2016, 10:50am

I just discovered Tom Hiddleston playing opposite Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive. He's a terrific actor.

març 4, 2016, 1:08pm

>30 amysisson:

Wait until you get to Casino Royale... Must say I'm surprised at your surprise, James Bond is a byword for sexist, racist wankery.

març 4, 2016, 1:11pm

>32 LolaWalser:

You're right; I shouldn't be surprised. It's not as though the movies aren't themselves terribly sexist! But to see it laid out in black-and-white print is a bit appalling.

març 4, 2016, 1:11pm

>31 varielle:

Ooh, must look into some more of his movies. Was not familiar with Only Lovers Left Alive -- thanks!

març 4, 2016, 1:21pm

>33 amysisson:

The movie franchise has been so long-lived the tone there had to change a bit with the times (never becoming actually decent, of course), but in the beginning they were as bad as the books (which for obvious reasons remain the worst). Connery's Bond famously "converts" a lesbian through rape and forces sex on at least one other woman (as a piece of sexist catechism I received as a kid from a somewhat older boy went: "When a lady says "maybe" it means "yes"; when a lady says "no" it means "maybe". I was confused, wondering what on earth a lady would say to mean "no". Apparently meaning "no" was outside a lady's repertoire of behaviour.); even Moore's Bond, the "suave" one, slaps a woman around to intimidate her (which doesn't prevent her from going to bed with him).

feb. 11, 2017, 3:59pm

Whether regarded as amusing, entertaining or disgusting it should be remembered Fleming's Bond reflects the era: Male & female diplomats, civil servants, forces personnel were being blackmailed for their sexual mores by both sides of the Cold War as well as more regular criminal groups, Mafia etc. Africans & Asians were dismissed as 2nd/3rd class by the almighty white race. Women that stood up for themselves as the equal of men were appallingly denigrated in all the media.
Likewise Bond saw & dealt with such sexual proclivities & feminist attitudes in natural male chauvinist displays. To have been sympathetic to homosexuals, lesbians or gender equality campaigners would've made Bond a laughing stock, completely out of step with his own, 'A Man's Gotta Do What A Mans Gotta Do' generation.
Not to make too much of it, but had Fleming's James Bond cried over a woman it would have rendered him, IMPOTENT! And whoever heard of a Bond that couldn't or wouldn't be up for it!