Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (1953)

AE35Unit

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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...

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Open the pod-bay doors...: Casino Royale-Ian Fleming
 

Boaz

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Casino Royale is the only Ian Fleming book I've read. I read it about three years ago. Back in the late eighties and early nineties, I read a ton of Frederick Forsyth and Tom Clancy. I realize that Clancy built upon Forsyth, who in turn built upon Fleming, but Fleming does not hold up well... in my opinion.

Near the beginning, while gambling the Queen's money against Le Chiffre, Bond has about twenty alcoholic beverages in twenty-four hours. And he really only stops drinking when he finally ends up in the hospital. He is a high functioning alcoholic... and completely unprofessional.

I know espionage has changed radically from WW2. I know police procedure has codified. I know communications have improved. I know the science of physics, automobile safety and medical forensics have grown. So I tried to understand these things and take them with a grain of salt. But at the beginning of chapter ten, The Crawling of the Skin, Bond crashes his personal car (used on assignment in a foreign land). The car is a convertible with the top down and Bond is not wearing a seat belt. He flips the car.... and is merely stunned. More likely Bond would have been killed, not merely stunned.

I know our world revolves around political correctness... and I know sexual attitudes have changed... certain meanings of words have evolved... yet the following passage remains difficult for me to understand. Bond is reflecting upon his first night with Vesper.... from chapter twenty-three, Tide of Passion:

But somehow she had crept under his skin and over the last two weeks his feelings had gradually changed.

He found her companionship easy and unexacting. There was something enigmatic about her which was a constant stimulus. She gave little of her real personality away and he felt that however long they were together there would always be a private room inside her which he could never invade. She was thoughtful and full of consideration without being slavish and without compromising her arrogant spirit. And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape. Loving her physically would each time be a thrilling voyage without the anticlimax of arrival She would surrender herself avidly, he thought, and greedily enjoy all the intimacies of the bed without ever allowing herself to be possessed.
 

dannymcg

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I read it in my early teens and I was convinced for a lot of years afterwards that it was only safe to drink vodka if you first put black pepper in it
 

Vladd67

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I read it in my early teens and I was convinced for a lot of years afterwards that it was only safe to drink vodka if you first put black pepper in it
And don’t forget to order double toast with your caviar, they never bring enough.
 
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