Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The Spy Who Loved Me (or is it vice versa?)
Another birthday party is in order. I recently wrote about the Little Prince turning 70 this past week. Someone pointed out to me that James Bond also has a birthday this month. It was 13th April, 1953 that Ian Fleming’s famous Agent 007 first arrived in the novel Casino Royale. (M) This was the first of many Bond tales by Fleming. Countless stories continue to arrive at the hands of other writers, both for the page and screen.
The first author to continue the Bond adventures was Kingsley Amis under the pseudonym of Robert Markham. He was followed by John Pearson, Christopher Wood, John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Sebastian Faulks. The latest (and probably not the last) author is American author Jeffrey Deaver.
There even have been spin-off series of book entitled Young Bond, (M) based on Bond’s schoolboy days at Eton College.
Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in 1908 to a wealthy merchant banking family and his father, Valentine Fleming, was a Member of Parliament. Perhaps some of the government secret plotting in the Bond books may have been inspired by the senior Fleming’s shop talk. Ian Fleming was a naval intelligence officer during WWII and later a journalist. His wartime service and the news he covered provided much of the background, detail and depth of the Bond novels. After WWII he worked as Foreign Manager for the Kemsley newspaper group. His contract allowed him to take three months holiday every winter in Jamaica. One of the many sights in Jamaica that you can visit is Fleming’s House, Goldeneye (named after a military operation he was involved with). It was here that he wrote Casino Royale over a period of two months.
James Bond is an intelligence officer in the 00 section of the Secret Intelligence service, which is commonly known as MI6. Fleming stated that Bond is a compound of all the secret agents and commandos that he met during the war. He also gave Bond some of his own personal traits and behaviors. Bond is a classic adventure story he-man hero, but he also is very human in his self-doubt and makes mistakes. Bond was assigned the 007 in reference to one of the British naval intelligence achievements in WWI, the breaking of the German Diplomatic code.
Fleming took the name for his character from an American ornithologist, James Bond. He explained to the ornithologist’s wife that “It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born”. He is quoted as saying”…I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man…..I thought by god (James Bond) is the dullest name I ever heard.” After the publication of Casino Royale, Fleming used his annual holiday in Jamaica to write other Bond stories. Even after Fleming’s death in 1964, James Bond refused to die. His literary executors hired other authors to continue the series, as I have mentioned above.
So raise your martini glass (a deep champagne goblet) full of three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka and half a measure of Kina Lillet (shaken not stirred) to the great James Bond!