Ian Fleming


Ian Fleming. By Unknown - Original publication: UnknownImmediate source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-511863/Why-Ian-Flemings-wife-invented-James-Bond.html, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48649985

I'm reading the original works of Ian Fleming, the creator and author of the James Bond 007 stories. There are many later James Bond stories written by other authors, and I read a couple of them years ago, but they aren't the same.

Fleming was a pretty interesting character himself, and to a certain extent, it's apparent that James Bond is semi-autobiographical. Like Bond, Fleming was a reserve intelligence officer in the Royal Navy. Some of Fleming's exploits during WWII remain secret to this day, and what is known is interesting enough to make a movie of.

The Bond of Fleming's novels differs from the movie Bond in some ways. He is moody and emotional. He is lonely. He avoids committed relationships, keenly aware that he could be killed on a given day.

The movie Bond is an opportunistic womanizer. Fleming's literary Bond falls in love with the women in the story, and is hurt if they turn out to be working for the enemy. He is devastated if they die.

The movie Bond makes fun of authority, experts, and scientists. He is flippant. He improvises with a devil-may-care attitude. The Bond of the novels is an expert. He studies books and reports. He completes training and conveys intelligence. He is loyal and obedient to M and respectful of Britain's class hierarchy, far from the rogue portrayed in the movies.

In an era before the internet, Fleming was worldly and well traveled. He possessed unusual knowledge of regions and cultures that were foreign to his British audience. Sometimes this is awkward to read in the twenty-first century. Bond is a tourist to black American culture in Live And Let Die. I assume a Gen Z reader would lose their mind and call it racist, though for the era Fleming wrote with a somewhat progressive tone. I found myself cringing at times, yet the fast pace of the novel kept me reading.

One of Fleming's great talents as a writer was adding color to a setting or character. Fleming's Bond novels were stylish. He would describe in careful detail the clothing and fashion worn by characters, their taste in food, tobacco, cars, and entertainment. He could describe the furniture and and interior decorating of a room and make it engaging. I've seen authors and critics describe this as a negative trait for a writer, but I relish these details. They humanize the characters and transport the reader into the story.

For the most part, the James Bond stories move along at a cracking pace. Fleming wasted no time. He was economical with his writing. The novels are not long and they demand the reader's attention. I think he was a pretty good writer. I wouldn't rank the Bond stories as "high literature" but I'm thoroughly enjoying reading them, and I would compare Ian Fleming favorably against contemporary writers of spy novels and suspense. He was a writer for the ages.


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