Review: “The World Is Not Enough” explores the failures that caused Ian Fleming

Although Fleming’s operations were at times successful, much of his charm and good taste were remembered, qualities which at times seemed rather heinous in the midst of war. (During a field visit to France, he complained that cognac was “undrinkable.”) After a brief trip to Russia in the 1930s, he often pretended to be that rare Brit who preferred gin vodka; and at his all-important familiarization reunion with Admiral Godfrey, he ordered beef tournedos with bearnaise sauce while all the other men wisely ate lamb chops and mint sauce. “If I ever had to get married,” Fleming said at this meeting, “one of my demands would be that my wife know how to make the béarnaise sauce. Charming, perhaps; maybe even funny. But probably only with some men of a certain class. And maybe not so funny at all at a time when most Brits didn’t know how they would cook their next meal.


According to the Bond universe, the West has always triumphed and the East has never triumphed, and whenever a memory of Germany has sprung from the motley and ethnically mixed cast of Bond villains that included Auric Goldfinger (Latvian but with a German-Jewish name); Hugo Drax (former German Nazi disguised as British); Eric Blofeld (Polish-Greek raised in Germany); and even the sadistic thug Donovan Grant (German-Irish), in From Russia with love, they were not simply defeated, but carried with them the memory of the British defeats during the Cold War. During the 1950s and 1960s, the public defections of Philby, McLean, and Burgess, et al prompted people to put quotes around the phrase “British intelligence,” but Fleming never made the term ironic. When the prospect of a double agent surfaced in Bond’s debut novel, Casino Royale (1953), well, that’s not ugly at all. British agent Vesper Lynd is gorgeous and immediately falls in love and coveted with Bond. His commitment to SMERSH (Bond’s first nemesis, based on a veritable Russian spy organization) is not ideological; rather, she was coerced by the Russians, who captured her boyfriend. Ultimately, she doesn’t leave (like Philby) to embarrass Britain with her new happy life in Moscow, but conveniently kills herself. Fleming doesn’t just rewrite British failures; he sweeps them under the carpet.

In his devotion to the Queen and the country, Bond rarely sees the streets, towns and professions occupied by most of his fellow Britons. Instead, he idealizes the last days of the British Empire while traveling to Jamaica and the Bahamas, and enjoys playing his exclusive golf course on the Kent Coast at home. There is no irony about how much Bond takes pleasure in these privileged spaces, and it’s one of the charms of these books (if you don’t think too much about it) that he makes these spaces a zone of escape for readers, especially Americans. . (John F. Kennedy – another Bond aspirant, in terms of lifestyle – listed From Russia with love as one of his 10 best favorite novels of all time.) Dr No, Bond, seated in the office of the Acting Governor in Jamaica, gazes at portraits of King George VI and the Queen, hears the distant sounds of British children playing lawn tennis, and indulges in one of his few nostalgic musings :

His mind drifted into a world of tennis courts and ponds of water lilies and kings and queens, of London, of people photographed with pigeons on their heads in Trafalgar Square, of the forsythia that would soon be blazing in the roundabouts of the ring road, May, the precious housekeeper in her apartment next to King’s Road… the first subway trains starting to run, shaking the ground under her cold, dark room.

As Kingsley Amis points out in what is arguably Fleming’s best and most shameless review, The James Bond dossierr, this passage touches on the common life of Londoners in its references to roundabouts and subways, but Bond loves to drive roundabouts in his Bentley, and his father M. needs the underground to get to work. Further from the Royal St. George golf course, Bond rarely goes.


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