Ian (Lancaster) FLEMING and James BOND
-The Man and the Myth-
<Written and prepared by Phyllis L. Kipp, a ‘Master’ student at the Salve Regina College (Now University), Newport, R.I., and her Psychology Professor and supervisor, Prof. Dr. Ismail Ersevim, as required for her graduation thesis. 1966 – USA>
It cannot be denied that one of the mightiest influenceces on the past decades has been the writing of Ian Fleming. His series on the exploits of James Bond, has created greatest fiction character in modern times. The fictitious life of James Bond has actually become a desired hidden way of life for countless numbers of people who have read about him and have taken him to heart.
The reasons behind the success of James Bond are the basis of this thesis. It is the intention of the writer to set down the story of Bond telling why he has become a modern Ulysses to millions of people around the world.
To best do this, the paper has been divided into three chapters. The first chapter concerns the life of Ian Fleming. This chapter shows the similarities between the lives of Fleming and his created hero. The second chapter deal with the character of Bond. In this character, the writer has tried to show the reasons why the personality of Bond is the key factor behind the success of the Bond series. The third chapter attempts to prove that Ian Fleming is an author of high standards, using the familiar characte-
ristics of the era to captivate his audience.
The paper can also be seen in the light of its over-all effect. Too many people seem to think that the Fleming craze was only a bright flush which will die because Fleming himself has died. The author of this paper feels that Fleming has created a new type of fiction here which will be picked up by other authors and carried forth.
While it is very true that James Bond died with Fleming, the author of this paper feels that Fleming’s influence will continue. This will happen because Fleming has managed to catch the minds and hearts of his readers by giving them the certain something they needed to forget the problems of their times. This ability is not easily attained. Fleming, however, has set the pace. For this reason, Ian Fleming is worthy of a place of honor among modern authors.
CHAPTER : I
A LOOK AT IAN FlEMING
“I knew Ian Fleming well and I liked him.” (1) This statement made by Allen Dulles, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency for the United States government seems to sum up perfectly the feeling towards Ian Fleming shared by his many associates. To know him was to like him. The crux of the situation, however, seemed to lie in the fact that Fleming only allowed those people whom he liked to associate with him. Therefore, if he did not like a person, they were never given the opportunity to like him.
Fleming, being even more of an extrovert then his creation in fiction, James Bond, usually let the person know right off whether or not he liked them. He had two criteria in mind for all friends. Firstly, they could not a bore, and secondly, they could not be a hypocrite. (2) Because of his vast love of life, Fleming constantly sought in his associate people who would complement his own interests. This desire to fullfill himself did not leave him the time to make long judgments about people. His first reaction would determine his next move. Fleming governed almost his entire life on split second decisions which either could not or would not change. Once he had commmitted himself, Ian Fleming was adament in the defense of his own actions. (3)
Besides the element of quick judgment, Ian Fleming also let the idea that society owed him an interesting life to rule his daily being. Every- thing he did had to be exciting and different. Fleming pushed every this idea to such extremes that even his food was none but the best of exotic dishes, usually from the Orient. The prime example in which Fleming found the culmination of his desire for excitement, danger, and, actually, anything out of ordinary was the creation of James Bond, the super hero of the space age whose very life was the epitome of everything Fleming would have wanted himself to be.
Ian Fleming’s greatest desire for himself, the acquisition of wealth, undoubtedly stemmed from the fact that he was born, in 1908, with everything he needed except money. Both of his parents were Scottish. Although his father, Major Valentine Fleming, was a conservative member of Parliament, the office did not bring with it any great fortune. (4) Fleming found himself among the growing aristocracy of Europe which has its titles and lands, but did not have money to support it. However, as was the case in so many of Europe’s aristocratic families, a front was kept which drained every cent the family could acquire.
Fleming’s family ties did bring him into the circle of England’s elite. When his father was killed, in 1916, on the Somme River, it was Winston Churchill who wrote his obituary for “The Times”. (5) Churchill,
who was a close friend of young Ian, gave him fatherly council whenever needed.
Keeping up the front of the English aristocracy, Ian Fleming was schooled at Eton and Sandhurst, the West Point of Great Britain. (6) It was his training at Sandhurst which would later bring him into the service of the King as a Naval Intelligence Officer in World War II. This, however, did not come about until Fleming was given his first taste of writing in the news-paper business.
Fleming went to work for the Reuter new agency. Because of his background at Sandhurt, he was sent first to Berlin and then to Moscow to feel the pulse of impending war. (7) By this time England was aware that Berlin and Moscow were planning the fate of Europe over conference tables. Reuters wanted a correspondent there who would be aware of the movements and sent the stories back. Fleming went really for he was alredy gripped by the desire to seek out adventure whenever it might be.
The Reuter news agency was Fleming’s employer for a few short years. They could not offer him the one thing that he needed for his type of life, namely, money. Fleming had come to realization that his interests were costly. The salary of a news correspondent simply would not do. He turned to the high finance.
For six years he worked as a stockbroker. Fleming’s career, however, was never lucritive. Even he was perfectly willing to admit a small failure. Looking back upon the disaster Fleming gives as own defense the idea that, “I never could figure out what sixty-fourth of a point was.” (8)
Sandhurst had not trained him for this type of battle field.
The training at Sandhurst, however, did prove valuable to him during World War II. Fleming joined the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the war. He was assigned to Naval Intelligence. Fleming soon became an assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence. In this position he travelled throughout the warring countries gathering much needed war information. (9) It is undoubdetly because he loved this type of adventure to such an extreme that his career here was such a success.
At the end of the war Fleming returned to the life of a journalist, delicately passing by the money of his failure in the stock market. THis time he signed a contract with “London Times“. They, too, senf him off to Moscow. This time he was to report back all the vital facts of reconstruction. It might be assumed that they also wanted a trained eye to watch the happenings of government in that swiftly changing nation. Having six years in intelligence, Fleming was in a “knowing” position. His stories could be considered as accurate as possible in a country where intrigue is an everyday part of life. (10)
Fleming found himself still bogged down, however, by his constant worry over money. He decided to try his hand at writing. After all, he had had some experience in writing and writers make good money. When it came time for his contract with the London Times to be signed, Fleming insisted upon a two month vacation clause which would give him the opportunity to write for himself. He was granted his wish. (11)
Being the ever present wit, Fleming, of course, gives still another reason for his entrance into the world of fiction. At the age of forty-three,
Ian Fleming married Anna Geraldine Rothermere. This was only after he had been named corresponding in divorce proceedings by Lord Rothermere. Fleming told the story some years later that he took up writing “as a counterirritant or antibody to my hysterical alarm at getting married at the age of forty-three.” (12)
In 1952, Fleming took his vacation from the London Times and went to Jamaica. It was there that he created James Bond.
Allen Dulles concludes that Bond was created by Fleming as a way to round out the life he sought. (13) James Bond would do it in fiction all the things Fleming wanted to do; he would see all the things Fleming wanted to see; he would be, in short, the man Fleming wanted himself to be.
Fleming from the outset was sure of the ultimate success of James Bond novels. He realized that with the constant built-up of the spy systems of all the great nations, the people would very soon be clamoring for spy stories. (14) His idea proved true beyond his wildest dreams. James Bond caught on like a new form of mania, a mania striking every type of person possible.
It might be interesting to note that Ian Fleming was giving his public as many truths as he was fiction in his novels. He constantly delved back into his memory for facts about situations in his own intelligence career which would add sense of realism to his obviously preposterous
plots. Even “Smersh“, the “Death to Spies” organization of Soviet Union used in many of the novels in the Bond series, has a foundation in reality. Dulles affirms this fact by saying: “At the time, many of his readers thought that ‘Smersh’ was just another bit of James Bond fiction, but it was in fact a very real Soviet terror organization. (15)
Ian Fleming was an instant success with the publishing of :
Casino Royal. By 1961, hiz novels were being translated into ten languages, and netting Fleming the tidy sum of one millon dollars a year. Fleming could now do all the things he had always wanted to do. One thing, however, was destined to stop him: Ian Fleming had a heart condition.
When he was finally coming into his own, Fleming had a slight heart attack in 1961. He was ordered to slow down. Fleming did not know what this order meant. He was too full of life to take such an order seriously. There was too much he had not seen, too much he had not done. He disre-garded the doctor completely. In 1964, at the age of fifty six, Ian Fleming died.
Ian Fleming did not live long enough to do all the wonderfully exciting things he wanted to do. He did, however, live just long enough to create the greatest fiction hero of the generation, even of the century.
Because Fleming was highly attuned to the times, he was able to give the people exactly what they wanted. When an author is able to do this, he becomes at least a commercial success. Ian Fleming was more than this. His novels have been acclaimed by their reviewers as being written with a great flare for the dramatic. Critics might condem the materials handled in the book, but a criticism against the creative genius of Fleming was rare.
Ian Fleming might best be considered as a man’s man. He lived a life that was hard, but personally rewarding. He never had any regrets about anything he ever did. Fleming realized his own shortcomings, and tried to rectify them in the way that would help himself as well as his friends. By doing this he was striving to be the best man possible to himself.
Because Ian Fleming in a way was James Bond, Allen Dulles stipulates:
“No one, I feel, would ever have the audacity to try to bring Bond back. It took a Fleming to create him and together they gave great pleasure and relaxation to a multitude of poeple.” (17)
This can very well be considered Fleming’s greatest success that in a time filled with the constant dangers of war, famine and disease, he was able to bring a moment of pleasure to people around the globe. In the stories woven by Fleming, countless number of people were given the
opportunity to forget. They were able to enter Fleming’s own world of adventure.
It is very possible that Ian Fleming will be remembered in the future as the writer who created James Bond. This will come about by a public only interested in the externals. If the full truth is to be known, it must also be remembered that Ian Fleming was a man of his own convictions ready o face the world, and to try and shape it. He recognized the fact that most people in the world today do not know how to live. Ian Fleming knew his own way of life and lived it. If one believes the statement, man to thyself be true, it must be admitted that Ian Flemimg lived this maxim to the best of his ability. He would not have asked more of a person. When thinking of Ian Fleming, we should judge him by this standard.
CHAPTER I - FOOTNOTES
(1) Dulles, “Our Spy-Boss Who Loved Bond”, LIFE, 57:19, August 28, 1964.
(3) ”Sorry to Have Troubled You”, NEWSWEEK, 64:37, August 24, 1964.
(4) “Man With the Golden Bond”, TIME, 84:22-23, August 21, 1964.
(6) As the same of (3).
(8) As the same of (4).
(10) “Master of Agent 007″, LIFE, 53:47-48; August 24,1964.
(11) As the same of (4).
(13) As the same of (1).
(16) As the same of (4).
(17) As the same of (1)
”THERE IS A MAN CALLED BOND”
The best detective-heroes have always been attuned to their own age. Sherlock Holmes, the master detective from the pen of Arthur C. DOYLE splendidly reflected the Victorian Edwardian belief in rationality and cool logic. His “elementary, my dear Watson” spotlighted the idea of complete rationalist in a single phrase repeated throughout the series. Cashiell HAMMETT’s hard nosed Sam Spade, and Raymond CHANDLER’s Philip Marlowe were exactly right for depression years. In their deeds of daring could be found an outlet from the trials and worries created by the economic situation of the time. Instead of worrying about a lost job, for even a single hour the reader could be caught up in the roaring lives of two-fisted fiction heroes. Identification with the detective hero, however, extended beyond the single hour into the very lives of the readers. James Bond, super-hero of the space-age, has taken up full force in a way never even dreamed of the Doyles, Hammetts and Raymonds of the past.
James Bond himself is only the representative figure of a select class of men around the world actually engaged in the touchy business of espionage. He is in fact a composite of commando and intelligence types Ian Fleming knew from his years of service in Britain’s Naval Intelligence. The big gambling scene in “Casino Royal” was, for example, suggested by a wartime encounter in Lisbon when Fleming sat down opposite the top German agent in Portugal at the “chemin de fer” <Fransızca: ‘demiryolu’ anlamına gelen ve enternasyonal, yüksek düzeydeki kumar merkezlerinde bulunan, bakara-poker oynanan masa. İ.E.> table. (1) The total affect of the James Bond hero vcan be summed up in a single sentence uttered to him in awa by a member of a lesser section then the “Double-O” branch of the intelligence service. “Of course, you’re all heroes. I was enchanted.” (2)
James Bond, man licensed to kill, hastaken over completely the race to the ‘wonderland’ of escapism.
James Bond of the British Secret Service was born in the hot room of a Jamaican hotel in the summer of 1952. The doctor assisting at the delivery was, of course, the now famous surgeon of the world of intrigue Ian Fleming. From that first day, having since been translated into ten languages, Bond came to be heralded by millions of devotees the world over from Presidents (John F. Kennedy) and princess to postmen and plumbers. All were effortlessly drawn into a magic land of tension and torture, peopled
of self-sacrificing friends and hordes of mean-eyed villains possessing the questionable knack of shooting straight except when Agent Double-O Seven was the target. Auric Goldfinger was one of the few able to express his consternation at allowing some unknowing spiritual force to keep Bond alive: “You certainly turned out to be a snake in my pastures….. Why I kept you alive! Why I didn’t crush you like a beetle….. I was mad to have taken the chance. Yes mad.” (3) Thanks to Goldfinger’s ’madness’ Bond did stay alive to ‘save’ Fort Knox and America’s Gold reserve. But, more important still, James Bond was ‘alive’ to seek new adventures as “007″.
The question that needs answering in the story of James Bond is just what makes this man agreeable to the masses? Surely it cannot be a total affect of the daring exploits of a secret agent. There are very few people who would trade their safe lives for that of a hunted man. A man who most constantly look over his shoulder searching for the enemy whose duty it will be to kill or be killed. Certainly few people would wish to trade places with a man being tırtured to within inches of his life for a secret he does not under-stand or perhaps does not even possess. And most certainly few people would trade places with a man who cannot call anyone friend for fear that that one person will become a vulnerable spot to him. The majority of the reading public is too set in their ordinary way of life to be attracted to such a radical change. Still they read James Bond thrillers. Why? The final answer must be in the man himself.
Each of us at one time or another wishes that there were an air of mystery surrounding our own person. We sometimes even like to add a spotlight of intrigue into our everyday life. The ordinary man might do this by purchasing a shocking plaid sports jacket which is totally out of character from his usual gray suit. The housewife might do this by changing the color of her hair from a drab, mousy brown to an uplifting, exciting red. It is little wonder that just such ordinary people as these are attracted to a man of mystery like James Bond.
Little of the Bond background is ever divulged in any of the novels. There are only fragmented references to an early life in the hills of scotland. What does matter is that he received his early training in the Intelligence Service during the War, and continued on after as one of three men in the Double-O section. He was the number one man in this section. The one looked to when the best possible results were needed was James Bond. The man who kept the section moving at a fantastic speed was the man referred as ’007′. He was the man whose ruin would mean the end of that section of Intelligence for England.
”Have they no one who is a hero to the Organization?
Someone who is admired and whose ignominious
destruction would cause dismay? Myths are built
on heroic deeds and heroic people. Have they no such
men?… There is a man called Bond.” (4)
The “man called Bond” has the well worn features of the master spy which become mysteriously attractive in the hands of Fleming.
“It was a dark, clean cut face, with a three-end scar
showing whitely down the sunburned skin of the right
cheek. The eyes were wide and level under straight,
rather long black brows. The hair was black parted on
the left, and carelessly brushed so that a thick black
comma fell down over the right eyebrow. The longish
straight nose ran down to a short upper lip below
which was a wide and finely drawn out cruel mouth.
The line of the jaw was straight and firm. (5)
This face stood on the top of a slim body which stoof one hundred and and eighty-three centimetres. The features depicted decision, authority and a brand of ruthlessness; a man to be feared. He let no secrets penetrate his face. When the action was moving either for or against him nothing could be seen in his expressions except rapt concentration. The secrets of his mind were locked there. He never allowed them to be read by others. Bond would not even allow himself the pleasure of an agonized scream when being tortured. He was the man of rock. The man admired by his peers for being the best in the business. His body was only another tool of his trade spoken of in the same breath as his gun, assorted knives, or various pieces of luggand and his car.
It cannot be said, however, that James Bond had no heart. He hated thethought of killing, and never did so unless he was in a kill or be killed situation. Even then he was revolted by the thought of it afterward. There is only one death which James Bond ever acknowledged as as being unforgiveable. It is ironic that he was only an accessory before the fact to the murder.
”Bond closed his eyes tight, fighting with a wave
of mental nausea. More death! More blood on his
hands. This time, as a result of a careless gesture,
a piece of bravado that had led to a twenty-four
hour ecstasy with a beautiful girl who had taken his
fancy, and in the end, rather more than his fancy….
This death he would not be able to excuse as being
a part of his job. This death he would have to live
Whenever possible James Bond did not kill, but his training included every ruthless method known to man. When he retired, Bond wanted to write a book on the subject. He would never be given the chance.
When not condemning Bond for having to kill, critics take to condemning him for his love affairs. It is here that the writer would have to agree with the critics. Even with the idea in mind that Bond is a wanderer never to be allowed a home, “Home? This was his home, this cocoon of danger he had chosen to live in”, (7) the over obundance of sex found in the novels is in far too many cases most unpleasant. (The books most enjoyable to the writer were the ones written purely for the adventure involved, namely, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and “Goldfinger“. These two, play down the sex angle to the greatest degree, and by doing so they make the novel all the more enjoyable.)
Since Ian Fleming made it known that the James Bond series was written primarily for the money (8), it is not hard to understand why the novels were well spiced with sex. It is only a reflexion, however and it might be, of the generation in which we live. Being the practical man that he was, Fleming used every device at hand to make Bond the success he wanted him to be. As long as the money was good, the sex would stay in the life of Bond.
In one of his last novels, however, there seems to be a speck of light on the horizon. All of Bond’s affairs had been momentary subjects lasting no more than a week. In the novel “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, Bond falls in love. By the end of the novel he is seriously thinking giving up the Service, realizing that love and espionage cannot be mixed with proportionately to come up with a complete life. He understands fully that it means a total change in his way of life, but he is willing to accept the change. His love is strong enough to enable him to find success even if it is only a fraction of success somehere else. He marries. In this one gesture the writer feels that Bond has almost erased all the accusations of total amorality leveled at him by his critics. It is unfortunate, however, that Fleming could not leave well enough alone. Following the epics of ancient Greece, the angry gods step in to give just one more fatal blow to the victor which will result in his actually becoming the vanquished. In this case the final blow is death. Tracy, his wife of a day, is killed in an automobile accident. Bond, who was driving the car, is left with a shattered life to piece back together again. Knowing one kind of life, he heads back to the Secret Service.
It is positive in the writer’s mind that Fleming was having some kind of tug of war within himself exactly as to where James Bond was head-ed. By his own life he understood that a man could not go on indefinitely without true love of any kind. To be complete James Bond needed to love. The love Bond felt for Tracy was a genuine love which went against all the training of mind and body which had been his way of life for twenty years. “Bond found his voice saying those words that he had never said in his life before, never expected to say. ‘Tracy, I love you. Will you marry me?’ “ It was, in the writer’s opinion, almost cruel of Fleming to allow him only a day of happiness. The writer can only guess that at the last moment Fleming had a second thought about the possible success of Bond trillers, and felt that he must have her die now. He could not wait for the sequel because there were people who would not buy a thriller containing a married hero. However thin the excuse aesthetically of money is, Fleming felt it great enough to give James Bond only a taste of victory.
The fact remains, however, that James Bond did love. In this single gesture he was able to become a complete man. Bond could no longer consider himself merely a machine in the service of Britain. He was now fulfilled in his manhood. Even in the remaining novel in the series and the one incomplete novel, the thought still remains – James Bond has loved, loved enough to forget self and country and enjoy the pleasure of marriage. The thoughts of Tracy follow him through the next two novels. Where his face had always been stoic, the thought of Tracy can make his eyes smile. Thanks to true love Bond would always be a complete man. Fleming could not kill this idea. Perhaps he did not want to do it.
James Bond, man of mystery, died when Fleming died in 1964. The one sad feature of an incomplete novel is that the person who takes over, cannot possibly take over in the exact footsteps of the originator. The real James Bond is dead now no matter how many future novels bearing his name appear on the shelves of bookstores around the world. In the brief ten years of his life he managed to bring to the lives of many the sense of mystery they wanted to live the selves but never could because they were the ordinary workers at the ordinary jobs that could make a country strong or weak, depending on how well they did their work. Not realizing their own importance, they sought escape in the mystery of a man whose life gave the impression of importance far beyond of their own. It is a common fallacy of human nature to be drawn to a man who was no past and no firm future. He lives only for the ever present now, something that each of us wishes we could do – not to worry about the past becuse it means nothing, and not to worry about the future because it is so indefinite it does not matter either. Jmes Bond was this type of man. By associating with him the reader was allowed to drift about in his world for a few hours in a suspended feeling of importance which ended when the book was put back on the shelf.
FOOTNOTES - CHAPTER II
(1) “The Man With the Golden Bond”, ” Time”, 84:22-23, August 21’1964.
(2) Ian Fleming, “Casino Royale”, p.51.
(3) ————— ,”Goldfinger”, p.182.
(4) ————— , “From Russia With Love”, p.37.
(5) Ibid., p.41.
(6) As the same of (3), p.121.
(7) Ibid., p.128.
(8) As the same of (1), p.22-23.
(9) Ian Fleming, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, p.137.
THE ODD BEDFELLOWS
With his early career as a journalist in London, Berlin and Moscow tucked neatly under his arms, it is of little surprise that Ian Fleming, now accustomed to the fast paced life as an intelligence officerr after six years in the service of his King, went back to his first calling, a calling which allowed him to keep on the move constantly. With his background as an intelligence officer, it is also of little surprise that the “London Sunday Times” made him their foreign manager. (1) He was quite used to dealing with other countries, a characteristic quality quite uncommon to the average English-man who, according to perhaps unfounded criticism, cannot see beyond the shores of his own island. The owners of the London Sunday Times could not, however, have realized the gravity of the stipulation made by Fleming in accepting the position. He made an annual two month vacation, during which time he would write only what he wanted to write, a part of his contract. It was during one of these vacations that James Bond emerged in Casino Royale.
“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nausea-
ting at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion pro-
duced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and
nervous tension- becomes unbereable, and the senses
awake and revolt from it. James Bond suddenly knew that
he was tired.” (2)
As evidenced by the above quote, there are two facts of utmost importance here: firstly, Ian Fleming was diligently trained as a journalist bringing with it all the trappings of the journalistic style, primarily, minute description and episodic style; secondly, he was a trained officer in the intelligence branch of the Royal Navy which also includes the skills of exact and accurate observation and a somewhat loose style. Both these trainings merged in the James Bond adventure novels to form a style which combined the somewhat odd bedfellows odf easy, effortless reading and perfectly detailed description which is, in truth, as exact as many description to be found in the literature of the sixties. The writer would even go so far as to say that it is the best she has read in the novels of the past twenty years.
The description in the James Bond novels is equal to picking up a photograph in the best of the four-color processses. Fleming himself points out this fact in a scene in one of the novels. Bond has been given a split second to look at a situation and memorize it. This is, of course, a cgore which is a well-known to any man who has dedicated himself to the some-what dubious life of a secret service agent. He must have trained his mind in the art of total and accurate recall. Without this amazing art, he would easily be placing his life into unnecessary jeopardy everyday. After Bond has looked at the scene, Fleming writes: “Then Bond sat down and meticulously went over the photograph that was in his brain.” (3) This single sentence is followed by two large paragraphs of minute detail, concerning the picture Bond has just made his mind of the scene.
In this picture can be found the placement of people and the details of how they are standing and what they are doing; situation of objects including a conveyor-belt extending out ito a jetty, a crane and a ship. Nothing of the greatest or smallest importance to the mind’s are is left out. Even the measurements of size and distance is given with approximations: the canvas sock which is “perhaps twelve feet above the quay”, and the “tender of around ten thousand tons deadweight”. (4) The reader is put into the position of seeing the words in print and believing they exist somewhere exactly as they are being described.
The writer considers this descriptive ability of Ian Fleming to be the greatest single factor enforcing her opinion concerning the literary value of the James Bond series.
Fleming had amitted that the entire series is in fact built on “hilariously preposterous plots hardly meant to be taken seriously”. (5) He meant them to be a source of momentary pleasure which would bring the reader back for a second reading of the same man. He wanted Bond to become a hero who would lure the people away from all other types of adventure stories. Ian Fleming did not want James Bond to become any kind of symbol, however. He had only contempt for any of his critics who tried to read anything at all into Bond.
The fact remains that many people, in a manner of speaking, did take Bond seriously. This is not to say that they became Bond. They went with him. They were transported the exact places, the very rooms, into which Bond travelled. They could ‘see’ through his eyesfor themselves the setting of the furniture, the decorations on the walls and table tops, the colors and textures of the rugs and, most importantly, the faces of the people. This was all done by the vast amounts of description written throughout the novels. For this very reason, however brief the feeling might have lasted, it cannot be denied that the majority of James Bond readers were ‘there’ by his side through all his many adventures. The writer herself could not help being swept into the hot, sticky hotel rooms of Jamaica where the paint was falling off the walls, the somber offices in the London head-quarters of the service, or the dare-devil slopes of Switzerland were one false move could mean a mangled body and death.
Although it did not happen to this writer, she can easily see how it might be possible for a certain few of the Bond readers to identify with the people in the novels. It would be easiest for them to identify with the dashing Mister Bond himself. Fleming leaves nothing out of the characteri-zation of the hero. Each of his many and varied moods is shown in the finest detail. He is seen at both work and play. The reader follows him from morning to night through description resembling that of a movie camera. For just the briefest moment the reader might allow himself to be swept into the excitement of a life or death struggle against a giant squid, a race down a dangerous slope, or even a moonlight swim in the dark waters of the
While Fleming does concentrate mainly on the character of Bond, he never allows one of the minor characters to slip away. Because time usually does not allow a complete psychoanalysis of the minor characters, Fleming usually characterizes them via physical. He uses many of time worn but effective stock types to portray one of the lesser heroes or the villain. Each of these usually has some trait or physical disability which sets him aside from all the rest. “Doctor No“, the power crazy genius from the East, has had both hands amputated by his enemies to show that they no longer considered him even worthy enough to be one of their band of saboteurs. Auric Goldfinger, the world’s richest and, at the same time, greediest man, shines in the sun because his coloring resembles that of gold he lives for. Earnst Stavio Blofeld had completely changed his appearance from the last time he had met Bond. The only think that could have given away his identity was his eyes, but Flofeld now kept them constantly in the shade of black glasses.
Following through to his idea that all of his plots would be totally out of proportion, Fleming has made all of his villains completely insane. Each is after the conquest of the world. Except for their various and unique traits, one could very easily be the other. Their minds are the same, but physically they are separate and unique.
The case of Earnst Blofeld brings to the foreground that part of the physical which Fleming seems to deal in the most; that which he has completedly mastered, the eyes.
It has always ben considered that the eyes are the only part of the anatomy which cannot be completely changed. As in the case of Blofeld, they could be covered by dark glasses, or, as in the case of Doctor No, they could be protected by contact lenses, but in the long run, the eyes cannot be totally changed, only camouflaged.
Because the eyes are unchangeable, they have bee used constantly bu authors as a basis for description. They are considered the window or mirror of the soul. They allow another person to look directly into the depths of a character. The eyes cannot lie as often or as well as the other facial features. In most cases the eyes cannot lie at all. For this reason they have also been considered the source of beauty and truth in a person.
The writer would imagine that Ian Fleming had many opportunities to put the eyes of others to various tests while we was both a secret service agent and a journalist. When he did not know someone’s personality, it would be an easy task for this trained man to ‘read’ the truth in the other’s eyes. Fleming put this knowledge to use over and over again in the Bond series.
In one scene, from “Goldfinger”, Bond finds himself in a rather awkward position. He is working for for the insane genius with the single thought of immediate death hanging over his head if he made the wrong move. Goldfinger asks him to do just one thing. He wants him to look at the men he has gathered for a type of ‘convention’, and tell him afterward
whether or not they have been telling the truth. This, of course, would have been a tall order for most people untrained in the art, but Bond comes off well. He watches only one thing throughout the entire scene, the eyes.
He first noticed that Mr. Midnight while he seemed jovial enough had “slow careful eyes”. He founf himself fascinated by the eyes of Mr. Ring “which should have been plae blue” but “were a tawny brown”. “The whites showed all around the pupils and gave a mesmeric quality to the hard thoughtful stare, unsoftened by a tic in the right eyelid which made the right eye wink with the heart-beat”. Bond’s attention is then turned to Mr. Springer who “had the glazed eyes of someone wjo is either very rich or very dead”. “The eyes were pale blue opaque glass marbles which briefly recognized Bond and then turned inwards in complete absorption with self.” Mr. Solo’s eyes were covered with hornrimmed glasses which “heliced briefly in Bond’s direction and than beat again to the business of cleaning Mr. Solo’s nails with a pocket knife.” Bond became aware of Mr. Strap knew “his eyes frightened people because now, presumably not wanting to frighten Bond, he gave them charm by crinkling them at the corners.” When the eyes
were not busy trying to deceive, they were the eyes of a ‘conjuror’ “ (6) With his years of reading eyes, however, Bond was able to detect only one of the men in a lie.
“Almost instinctively, Bond watched the eyes of Mr.
Helmut Springer from Detroit. While affirmatives
in various tones of voice came from the others, Mr.
Springer veiled his eyes. His portentous, ‘You have
my solemn word,’ rang hollow. To Bond the condour
was as false as a second-hand motor salesman’s.
Casually he drew a short straight minus line beside
Mr. Springer’s name on the agenda.” (7)
Goldfinger’s trust in Bond’s ability was such that his minus sign meant deah to the unknowing Mr. Springer
To demonstrate thenpower of eyes, Fleming shows the innocent Honeychile Rider “half hypnotized, like a bush mouse in front of a rattlesnake.” The cause of this spell is the evil Doctor No whose “eyes were hard as onyx under the billiard ball forehead and skull. The polite mask had gone. The Grand Inquisitor sat in the high-bcaked chair.” (8) When Fleming says that ” the polite mask had gone,” he simply means that Doctor No had removed the lenses he usually wore before this final interview with Bond and the girl. When he did so the true evil which he represented was freely distributed to anyone in the room. Bond felt that the cold difference, but he was not about to let Doctor No recognize his fear as easily as he had seen the girl’s. He made himself stay calm even though he wanted to stop No’s staring at Honeychile.
A lesser literary condition which struck the writer as being very powerful in the writing of Ian Fleming is is his use of descriptive personification and animal imagery. The images he creates are extremely powerful and directly to the point. Each hits with the unmistakable precision of a master craftsman.
The writer has taken several examples from each of Fleming’s most popular novels to give some indication of his outstanding ability. It must be noted that they are taken out of context. It can be seen, however, that the power behind them is not lost.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE :
(1) A short crackle of talk with the central tower,
the central tower came through the open door to