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September 19, 1963, Vol. VIII, No. 48
The Riddle Answered
No admirer of James Bond can remain silent at your critic’s discussion of “The James Bond Riddle” (September 5).
First, Ken Sobol has misinterpreted the appeal which Ian Fleming offers to account for his success. he writes not for students of spy warfare but for a work-a-day public who find in him the escapism they need. Certainly he appeals to the schoolboy in us, but what schoolboy hero is a failure? It is Bond’s knowledge of the good things in life, his skill at cards, the pursuit of evil, and his sexual freedom that we admire and with which, in his company, we identify ourselves.
Secondly, your writer is unfamiliar with the background to Ian Fleming’s writing and Bond’s activities. It is Fleming’s greatest boast that his hero’s weapons and accoutrements are authentic, and many of the “outrageous inventions” which come to Bond’s aid in the books are based on history, knowledge of which the author gained as a journalist and member of naval intelligence. The bizarre bomb-throwing incident in “Casino Royale” being an example borrowed from a similarly attempted assassination in Turkey during the war.
Ken Sobol has obviously confused the film of “Dr. No” with the book, in which the Chinese spy is nonexistent and Bond kills no women — with or without his “thick, gross, heavy-duty automatic.” Also, it was in “Casino Royale,” not “Moonraker,” that Bond nearly lost his manhood at the hands of Le Chiffre.
It is ludicrous to describe Bond, so noted for his success in bed, as a Puritan. Certainly he is no intellectual, but as a counterspy he always achieves his objectives amidst the downfall of his enemies. Sterile he may be — incompetent never! — Dermot J. Driscoll, St. Mark’s Place
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