The Times – James Bond: the movies are not enough<br/> After the huge commercial dominance of the 007 movies, the novel is fighting back, by Andrew Lycett (author of the biography Ian Fleming)

Everyone has an opinion on whether Sean Connery is a better onscreen 007 than Roger Moore. But few people can expatiate on the differences between the old-fashioned adventure story Live and Let Die, the starkly cinematic novel Moonraker, and the experimental The Spy Who Loved Me, told through the eyes of its female heroine, Vivienne Michel.

If they bothered to read Fleming in the original, they would find a more sympathetic Bond than is found in the films, one who does not always get the girl and who grieves at the emotional compromises he is forced to make in the course of duty. They would be carried along by the verve of the author’s style, known as the “Fleming sweep”, which marries a journalist’s attention to detail with a great storyteller’s capacity to generate pace and excitement.

There follows a rather lengthy breakdown of the banking interests who own the literary rights…

But by the time [The Man With the Golden Gun] was published in 1965, Fleming himself was dead.

The boot factory then went into overtime. Kingsley Amis was hired to write the first “continuation Bond”, Colonel Sun, under the pseudonym Robert Markham. Fleming’s widow, Ann, was not amused. “No one understands why I am distressed,” she commented. “Though I do not admire Bond, he was Ian’s creation and should not be commercialised to this extent.” She regarded Amis as a lefty careerist who despised 007′s traditional patriotic values.

Heh heh heh.

Over the following decades James Bond lost his way, both on the screen, where, though commercially successful, he drifted away from Fleming’s original, and on the page, where, with little commitment from his publishers, his exploits seemed destined to be read only by fans.

Now he is back on course. Ian Fleming, once the black sheep of his family, has become its poster boy. On his centenary, someone should give him a posthumous decoration. Bearing in mind that Bond used to travel under cover as a representative of the firm Universal Exports, an award to his author for “services to exports” would be fitting. The output of that boot factory is not going to slacken in the immediate future.

Well, my readers, or at least Brett McS, have been expatiating on the finer details of the Bond novels for years. So there, fancy private banking firm.


<br/> Btw, getting the above links I’ve just noticed, but how cool are the cover art for those books?! Well done, fancy private banking firm!