Monday, 16 November 2015

10 Offensive Quotes from Ian Fleming’s James Bond Novels

Guest Article by Pete Swan

With a new James Bond film, Spectre (2015), upon us[i] and with Daniel Craig rumoured to be leaving the series before long,[ii] James Bond is taking centre stage of the world’s showbiz media once again. The Bond film franchise has seen many changes over the last fifty odd years. For example, James Bond no longer smokes; he no longer sits in Jacuzzis with bevies of women all young enough to be his daughter. The last seven Bond films saw Judi Dench play a female ‘M’, Bond’s boss at MI6.[iii] The character ‘Miss Moneypenny’ has also now been changed to the more dignified ‘Eve Moneypenny’ and is currently played by the black actress, Naomi Harris.[iv] In another departure, a gay actor named Ben Whishaw now plays a much younger and tech-savvy version of Q than did the old stalwart Desmond Llewelyn (who appeared in 17 Bond films between 1963 and 1999) or his successor in the role of Q, John Cleese. This year [2015] we even saw the black actor, Idris Elba, put forward as a candidate to play the next James Bond.[v]

James Bond has been part of our popular culture now for so long that we can trace back to his roots and use his earliest narratives to ask ourselves how far we have really come as a society. We would of course nowadays consider racism or homophobia distasteful in a modern Bond film even if it came from the mouth of one of the villains and the sexism in Bond films is now no worse than across the film industry as a whole. Whatever you think of the newest Bond films, here are ten quotes from the original James Bond novels, which were written by Ian Fleming between 1953 and his death in 1964, that the current generation will (thankfully) never have to see up on the silver screen. One should note when reading these quotes, by way of mitigating circumstances,  that Ian Fleming was born in 1908 and the times in which he was writing (the 1950s and early 1960s) were very different to our own, where political correctness is now very much the order of the day. 

1.       ‘Blithering Women’ - Casino Royale (1953)

The Context: Bond is racing to rescue his companion Vesper Lynd who has been kidnapped by the novel’s villain, Le Chiffre.

The Quote: “These blithering women who thought they could do a man’s work. Why the hell couldn’t they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men’s work to the men.” (Page 97)

2.      ‘How to fight Negroes’ - Live and Let Die (1954)

The Context: Bond has been captured in Harlem, New York and is planning an escape from his guard, Tee Hee Johnson. 

The Quote: “He stumbled again, trying to measure exactly the Negro’s position behind him. He remembered Leiter’s injunction: ‘Shins, groin, stomach, throat. Hit ’em anywhere else and you’ll just break your hand.’
‘Shut yo mouf,’ said the negro, but he pulled Bond’s hand an inch or two down his back.” (Page 72)

3.      ‘All women long to be a cave’ - From Russia with Love (1957)

The Context: Bond has travelled to Turkey to meet a Soviet defector and is speaking to Darko Kerim, the head of the British service’s station in Turkey.

The Quote: “My father was the sort of man women can’t resist. All women want to be swept off their feet. In their dreams they long to be slung over a man’s shoulder and taken into a cave and raped. That was his way with them. My father was a great fisherman and his fame was spread all over the Black Sea. He went after the sword-fish. They are difficult to catch and hard to fight and he would always outdo all others after these fish. Women like their men to be heroes.” (Page 129)

4.      ‘Chigroes’ - Dr. No (1958)

The Context: Bond has travelled to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of an MI6 employee and is speaking to Pleydell-Smith, the Colonial Secretary of the island, over lunch.

The Quote: “’It’s like this’. He began his antics with the pipe. ‘The Jamaican is a kindly lazy man with the virtues and vices of a child. He lives on a very rich island but he doesn’t get rich from it. He doesn’t know how to and he’s too lazy...” “Finally there are the Chinese, solid, compact, discreet- the most powerful clique in Jamaica. They’ve got the bakeries and the laundries and the best food stores. They keep to themselves and keep their strain pure.’ Pleydell-Smith laughed. ‘Not that they don’t take the black girls when they want them. You can see the result all over Kingston – Chigroes – Chinese Negroes and Negresses. The Chigroes are a tough, forgotten race. They look down on the Negroes and the Chinese look down on them. One day they may become a nuisance. They’ve got some of the intelligence of the Chinese and most of the vices of the black man. The police have a lot of trouble with them.’” (Page 51)

5.      ‘Koreans are lower than apes’ – Goldfinger (1959)

The Context: Bond has been captured by Goldfinger and his sidekick Oddjob and is plotting his escape.

The Quote: “Bond intended to stay alive on his own terms. Those terms included putting Oddjob and any other Korean firmly in his place, which, in Bond’s estimation, was rather lower than apes in the mammalian hierarchy.” (Page 175)

6.      ‘Japanese women; insipid slaves’ - 'Quantum of Solace' (1960)

The Context: Bond is at a dinner party and is making small talk with the host.

The Quote: “’It would be fine to have a pretty girl always tucking you up and bringing you drinks and hot meals and asking if you had everything you wanted. And they’re always smiling and wanting to please. If I don’t marry an air hostess, there’ll be nothing for it but marry a Japanese. They seem to have the right ideas too.’ Bond had no intention of marrying anyone. If he did, it would certainly not be an insipid slave.” (Page 62)

7.      ‘The girl who drove like a man’ - Thunderball (1961)

The Context: Bond is in the Bahamas and is following Domino Vitali, the girlfriend of the main villain, SPECTRE No. 1, Emilio Largo.

The Quote: “Women are often meticulous and safe drivers, but they are very seldom first-class. In general Bond regarded them as a mild hazard and he always gave them plenty of road and was ready for the unpredictable. Four women in a car he regarded as the highest danger potential, and two women as nearly as lethal. Women together cannot keep silent in a car, and when women talk they have to look into each other’s faces. An exchange of words is not enough. They have to see the other person’s expression, perhaps in order to read behind the other’s words or to analyse the reaction to their own. So two women in the front seat of a car constantly distract each other’s attention from the road ahead and four women are more than doubly dangerous, for the driver has to hear, and see, not only what her companion is saying but also, for women are like that, what the two behind are talking about.

But this girl drove like a man. She was entirely focused on the road ahead and on what was going on in her driving mirror, an accessory rarely used by women except for making up their faces. And, equally rare in a woman, she took a man’s pleasure in the feel of her machine, in the timing of her gear changes, and the use of her brakes.” (Page 100)

[James Bond Film Link: Compare this with, say, the scene where Roger Moore as Bond makes a series of sexist comments on “women drivers” to Barbara Bach’s Major Anya Amasova (Agent XXX) in the tenth Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)]

8.      ‘Homosexuality; the stubborn disability’ - On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)

The Context: Bond is being briefed about Hypnosis as it is suspected that the villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld is using it to brainwash women in his mountain layer in Switzerland.

The Quote: “Now, there is plenty of medical evidence of the efficacy of hypnosis. There are well-authenticated cases of the successful treatment by these means of such stubborn disabilities as warts, certain types of asthma, bed-wetting, stammering and even alcoholism, drug-taking , and homosexual tendencies” (Page 172)

9.      ‘The Japanese; a violent people without a violent language’ - You Only live Twice (1964)

The Context: Bond has been told that there are no swear words in Japanese by the head of the Japanese secret service, Tiger Tanaka.

The Quote: “Well I’m... I mean, well I’m astonished. A violent people without a violent language! I must write a learned paper on this. No wonder you have nothing left but to commit suicide when you fail an exam, or cut your girlfriend’s head off when she annoys you.’
Tiger laughed. ‘We generally push them under trams or trains.’ (Page 77)

10.  ‘Gay men can’t whistle’ - The Man With The Golden Gun (1965)

The Context: M is reading a file about Francisco Scaramanga, a Cuban assassin suspected of killing MI6 agents.

The Quote: “’I have also noted, from a “profile” of this man in Time magazine, one fact which supports my thesis that Scaramanga may be sexually abnormal. In listing his accomplishments, Time notes, but does not comment upon, the fact that this man cannot whistle. Now it may only be myth, and it is certainly not medical science, but there is a popular theory that a man who cannot whistle has homosexual tendencies. (At this point, the reader may care to experiment and, from his self-knowledge, help to prove or disprove this item of folklore! – C.C.)’ (M. hadn’t whistled since he was a boy. Unconsciously his mouth pursed and a clear note was emitted. He uttered an impatient “tchah!” and continued with his reading.)’ (Page 27)


TBB Article No. 23.
© Pete Swan, 2015. 

Guest Author Pete Swan lives in Bristol and studied War History and Propaganda at Swansea University. Pete's interest in James Bond is an extension of his interest in popular culture and the history of the Cold War. Most of his free time is spent in pubs and books. 

A big "thank you" goes out to Pete Swan for this article! - The Bondologist Blog.  

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Madness of 'King Ernst' in Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice (1964)

Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice (1964) is certainly one of the author’s most brilliantly bizarre and offbeat pieces of work from a James Bond oeuvre which was by that stage already rich with originality (see the short story 'Quantum of Solace' [1960] and the novel The Spy Who Loved Me [1962]). The penultimate James Bond novel incorporates travelogue, learned references to Japanese culture, lists of deadly flora and fauna, a revenge tale, the beginnings of serial killer fiction (a craze of the 1990s) and fine Gothic horror as well as being the unfolding story of a dystopia on a Huxleyesque scale. It is a Brave New World for Fleming in terms of writing territory and although it might seem like it at times, it is not true that (unlike Aldous Huxley) Fleming was on mescaline at the time of writing You Only Live Twice(!).  At the time of writing You Only Live Twice Fleming was sadly literally dying from the admirable ailment of “having lived too much” (in reality the Fleming family trait of a bad heart or “the iron crab” as Fleming called it, was to blame) at the time he was writing this novel and so the fascination with the theme of death and the general air of morbidity throughout the proceedings really rings true from a man already painfully aware of his own mortality. Somehow, Fleming sensed he was soon about to “shuffle off this mortal coil” as Shakespeare so eloquently put it and so he must have sat down at his golden typewriter at his house Goldeneye in Jamaica, and forgetting the winter sun outside, drew inspiration from his impending death. As it turned out, he was of course right – he sadly died in the early hours of 12 August 1964 after having just the day before been made the Captain of the Royal St. George’s Golf Club.

                                                                                You Only Live Twice (1964): UK First Edition.

Although it represents the final part of the Blofeld/SPECTRE Trilogy of James Bond novels there is no typical Bondian world domination plot here (cf. the film version) but instead a private estate run by a veritable mad hatter called Dr Guntram Shatterhand who of course turns out to be none other than Bond’s aforementioned arch-enemy and the murderer of his bride Tracy Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963). SPECTRE it seems has went the way of the Dodo, which is more realistic than how the evil organisation (and its leader Blofeld) kept coming back film after film (excepting Goldfinger [1964]) between 1962 and 1971 in the Eon Productions Bond film series. The Ernst Stavro Blofeld of You Only Live Twice is a different animal (a mad dog meets an Englishman; Fleming was certainly very clever in his themes!) to what went before and here he can be seen as a veritable mad king (called King Ernst most likely) and a lunatic ready for the asylum. In English Criminal Law there is in fact something called “the Henry VIII Syndrome” where the defendant goes around lopping people’s heads off (just like Blofeld) as he thinks he is King Henry VIII; it is therefore good grounds for a plea of insanity with the inevitable result of hospitalisation in a mental hospital. Henry VIII of course had two of his six wives beheaded, namely Ann Boleyn (by the sword) and Catherine Howard (by the axe). Blofeld also displays the madness that afflicted King George III for much of his reign (which lasted from 1760 to 1820). Blofeld shouts in German much like the ranting and raving Adolf Hitler in the F├╝hrerbunker near the end of World War II when the war was all but lost and he seems equally as much out of touch with reality. Evidence for this comparison consists of the fact that we are for instance told of "that lunatic Hitler scream" from Blofeld in the Garden of Death at one point in the novel. One reads of Nazis escaping to Argentina and Spain at the war’s end but perhaps a few escaped to Japan too? It may be that that was what Fleming was pointing at – that there was a diverse Nazi evil being spread throughout other third countries as a result of such real post-war Nazi SS resettlement organisations as Odessa or Spinne. For the very original idea of the Garden of Death it is possible that Fleming was inspired by the 1896 watercolour painting named 'The Garden of Death' by the Finnish symbolist painter Hugo Simberg (1873-1917):

                                                                                     'The Garden of Death' (1896) by Hugo Simberg.
It is notable that Blofeld’s plan here is not to hijack a Vulcan bomber and its deadly cargo of two nuclear bombs for a grand ransom (Thunderball [1961]) or to use biological weapons against the United Kingdom (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) but merely to induce the notoriously suicide-prone native Japanese population to kill themselves in ever more eccentric fashion in a “garden of delights” populated by highly poisonous flora and fauna, piranha fish, scorpions, snakes and fumaroles. This garden is the locale where Blofeld goes utterly insane and indeed it is a veritable anti-Eden where the Fall of Man brought about by Adam and Eve’s quest for knowledge is all too evident. It is as if the imaginative horrors of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale or a novel by the Marquis de Sade have somehow come to life in the early 1960s with a little early Swinging Sixties hocus-pocus thrown in for good measure. Blofeld does his rounds of the garden in a full suit of armour as does his companion Bunt (with the grotesque addition of a bee-keeper’s hat) and Fleming seems to be making the point that Blofeld is trying to be a legitimate samurai warrior with all of the code of honour that implies though we the reader see he is woefully inadequate in this role and that he is a mere gaijin, common criminal and definite bounder. The madman Blofeld is nothing more than a mere shadow warrior playing at being a samurai warrior just like children play at being James Bond. Blofeld and Bunt even plan to eventually sell up from Japan and then take their ghastly “death show” on the road in other locations around the world such is their ultimate cruelty, depravity and deeply twisted inhumanity.

In You Only Live Twice there is no world domination master plan but in its stead there is just the mad king Blofeld lopping off people's heads with a samurai sword, years before the serial killer fiction craze of the 1990s (which has of course continued on until the present day) that Blofeld's plan to maximise Japanese suicides in his Garden of Death is akin to. In this sense Blofeld can be seen as a forerunner to that other madman in a Castle of Death, the serial killer ex-actor David Dragonpol in John Gardner’s James Bond continuation novel Never Send Flowers (1993) who lived in the aptly-named Scholss Drache (‘Drache’ being German for ‘Dragon’ as well as Sir Hugo Drax’s real name in Fleming’s Moonraker [1955]) in the Rhineland, Germany. Indeed, there are many interesting connections between both Bond novels, though the Fleming purist might blanch at the idea of Gardner’s  off-beat creation Dragonpol being compared to Fleming’s infamous arch-villain Blofeld! Like Dragonpol with his assassination targets of the good and the great, Blofeld attracts the suicidal Japanese seemingly for his own sick enjoyment and also for the delectation of his squat and grotesque consort Fraulien Irma Bunt. Bunt has the type of wardress face often associated with a Nazi death camp guard and as she is German and of the right age that could well have been her occupation. Fleming may well have drawn inspiration for Irma Bunt from some notorious female Nazi concentration camp guards like Ilse Koch (1906-1967), who eventually committed suicide in prison or ‘The Bitch of Buchenwald’ or Irma Grese (1923-1945), whom the Press called ‘The Beast of Belsen’ during her 1945 ‘Belsen Trial’ for war crimes and whom the inmates also dubbed ‘The Hyena of Auschwitz.’ Grese was found guilty at the trial and executed by hanging in 1945. In any event, Fleming’s contemporaneous readers would have been aware of the allusion to female Nazi wardresses Irma Bunt represented. Bunt (as described by Fleming) also looks a tad like the convicted serial killer Rosemary West.

              George Almond's painting of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in his Garden of Death in Fleming's 
You Only Live Twice (1964).

Of course, Fleming’s novel is as far away from the dire Roald Dahl-scripted 1967 film version as it is possible to get. (Harold Jack Bloom also worked on the screenplay before Dahl was hired and he was credited with "additional story material" as Dahl used some of his ideas in his new script). As the producers Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and director Lewis Gilbert were unable to find a castle built near the sea on their recce to Japan (it turned out that the Japanese did not build castles near the sea due to the tsunami risk) they decided to move almost completely away from the Fleming source novel by literally throwing it in the wastepaper bin and starting over again with a topical Cold War Space Race plot.  Meanwhile, the Fleming purist can only hope that You Only Live Twice will at some point in the future be filmed as a new chapter in Bond villainy where evil is seen to have had no other point than glorying in said evil itself. That seems a good theme for a Bond film that could sit very well along with the Bond film villains Karl Stromberg and Hugo Drax (of the films The Spy Who Loved Me [1977] and Moonraker [1979] respectively) who were not interested in money or extortion but rather in creating new worlds in their own inherently evil image, just as it could be said Blofeld did originally with his Garden of Death in Japan. Bunt makes the point in conversation with Blofeld that the world has never seen the like of Blofeld’s Garden of Death before and so too would have Stromberg and Drax had they been interviewed about it following the success of their annihilator schemes. Ian Fleming's other villainous creation Dr Julius No was of course also an influence on the Bond film villains Stromberg and Drax and their nefarious schemes. Blofeld has seemingly single-handedly turned the Godly garden and the Englishman’s dwelling place of a summer day into a dark and grotesque “Disneyland of Death”. In opposition to this perversion of the inherent sacredness of the garden is the fact that the English county of Kent is known as "The Garden of England" (cf. The Garden of Eden?) and this was of course on the side of the angels and was a haunt of Ian Fleming's and was where the majority of his third novel Moonraker was set. Moonraker featured a duplicitous ex-Nazi called Sir Hugo Drax who is based in Kent near the White Cliffs of Dover with his answer to Britain's defence, the “Moonraker” nuclear rocket. The fact was surely not lost on Fleming that he chose this very location given the Battle of Britain and the new British saviour weapon in the arsenal called the the Spitfire aircraft (as well as defences from ‘Operation Sealion’) that saved dear dependable old Blighty in her ‘Hour of Need’. Blofeld selfishly wanted his Garden of Death to be a success just as Stromberg’s wanted his own underwater civilisation at the expense of the rest of the world or that Drax wanted to annihilate the Earth (in a Hiterian Holocaust) and then populate it with a new Super Race of perfect physical specimens of all races. 

                                                                                     You Only Live Twice (1964): US First Edition.
One can quite easily see (in the Blofeld of the You Only Live Twice novel) the seeds of these truly bizarre and barking-mad characters in some of the Bond villains of the Roger Moore-era Bond films. In this sense, perhaps a bit of the You Only Live Twice Blofeld has rubbed off on some of the cinematic Bond villains that came in the years after Ian Fleming’s death where the screenwriters like Roald Dahl, Tom Mankiewicz and Christopher Wood otherwise turned away from the original Fleming Bond source material when it came to Bond villains and other components. With all of this in mind, one also thinks of Richard Maibaum’s original plot suggestion for The Spy Who Loved Me film to have real-world terrorists blow up the world’s oil fields with stolen nuclear submarines and watch the world burn just for the sheer hell of it. That would have been as close to the Blofeld of You Only Live Twice novel as the Bond films would likely have ever gotten. It was sad indeed that Maibaum’s vision for something “completely different” (as the Monty Python’s Flying Circus gang would have put it) never made it onto the screen. The producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli ruled out going ahead with Maibaum’s script for The Spy Who Loved Me out as being too overtly political for the James Bond film series, although he did like the idea. Of course sections of the recent Skyfall was based at least in part on events near the end of You Only Live Twice where Bond is shot in the head and loses his memory, and for the Fleming enthusiast that was surely a great thing to behold. Indeed, the hotly anticipated release of the twenty-fourth James Bond film Spectre in October 2015 gives the Fleming purist renewed hope that the criminally neglected novel You Only Live Twice, with its mad king Blofeld and his equally mad Garden of Death will finally make the transition from the printed page to the cinema screen.

Dedicated to Sir Miles of AJB007 Forums, with thanks.

Liked this article? Then see also on TBB the following related article: 

Ian Fleming's "Thrilling" Inspiration for Roald Dahl's You Only Live Twice (1967)

TBB Article No. 22

© The Bondologist Blog, 2015.