Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dr. No

By Ian Fleming.

When I read about how this book was originally received, I have to chuckle. The ardent accusations of voyeurism, sadism etc, have become so dated that they lend the book a reputation which it can no longer fulfill in an age where a Google search will show you any manner of perversion you care to see. To think that people once felt so strongly about this book. By my standards this book is not only toothless, but also rather amusing in its archaic values and faux-sexual antics.

I rather liked the book, not least in where it deviates from the film, most especially with regards to the character of Honeychile Rider. I can only imagine how an audience in the 1960's would have reacted to the sight of a beautiful woman emerging from the sea, with a broken nose. It was a good read, but it didn't capture my imagination quite as much as I'd hoped. There was a lot I'd have written differently, but to be honest, I very much doubt I could do better.

By comparison with other old books I've read, Fleming seems, to me, to be rather primitive. I can't quite think why his work stood out so much when it seems so old hat to me. I suppose I'm missing those contemporary subtlties which so assaulted the literay critic's sensibities, but I can't see why Bond is so much more famous than half a dozen other spy/agent characters from the same genre/period.

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