…SF addict …

Monday, January 29, 2018

Casino Royale-Ian Fleming

This is the first book featuring James Bond who, over the years has become an icon of all that's right and good, a sophisticated hero of our times etc. So I was kind of looking forward to reading about him. The book begins in the middle of the action, then jumps back a little to give some background on the case, and a little info on Bond himself. At first Bond comes across as cold, distant and unemotional. If he were a real person today he'd be branded a misogynist-his attitudes towards women were quite shocking. I mean we all know Bond is a womaniser, a ladies man, but in the book he comes across as disliking the fairer sex quite strongly. Near the beginning, when he is presented with a woman as a cover, (Vesper Lynd) he states that women are for recreation, that they have emotional baggage and need to be looked after. He clearly believes that a woman belongs in the kitchen, and in the bed, but not on a dangerous job. Anyway... let's say he thaws somewhat as the book progresses and begins to fall for miss Lynd, and this softens him up somewhat, and he is able to get on with the job in hand as it were....to say anymore would give too much away, but I'm sure by now most will be familiar with the plot featuring the french-named villain Le Chiffre and the counter-agency SMERSH (which goes on to feature in later books), and the dealings at the casino. The one aspect of the book that was slightly annoying was the copious use of french words and terms with no explanation. I kept my phone handy to act as translator! But on the whole not a bad book, if rather short at under 220 pages. But it was Fleming's first foray into fiction, and as regards the seemingly sexist attitudes, well this was written in the early 1950's, it was a different world back then. Some of the scenes are fairly violent- the torture scene that I remembered from the film is pretty much as it is in the book-it pulls no punches. Bond is no hero for boys-this is an adult world!
I will definitely read more Bond books. The sad thing is that Fleming died in 1964-two years after Dr No was filmed! So all those films that we have grown up with, well many of them were based on stuff not written by Fleming. And thats the thing. Bond lives on. People continue to want to see Bond rid the world of evil, in style, and so new stuff gets published. Even Sebastian Faulks, author of seminal war story Birdsong, has written at least one Bond book.
Long may he reign. And remain shaken, not stirred...


2 comments:

robertday154 said...

Not ALL the films since 'Dr.No' are based on material not by Fleming; he wrote quite a sufficient number of novels and short stories to keep the Broccolis going for years - up to 'A View to a Kill' and 'Octopussy' (AFAIK) which I understand were based on short stories. Indeed, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' was written specifically to be filmed. And the Daniel Craig 'Casino Royale' was based on the novel far more than the original film (which has always been treated by Bond fans as non-canonical) which bore no resemblance to the novel at all, for contractual reasons.

Larry Shone said...

Very true Robert. But that early version of Casino Royale is a fun romp.
And did you know there was a TV version of the story in a black and white TV series from 1954!