June 10, 2022

#08-214: Bond. James Bond

Ian Fleming's own sketch of James Bond

Note: No fictional spy is more famous than the debonair "Bond. James Bond," former spy Ian Fleming's masterful creation.

Get Ready: Have you seen a James Bond movie? Did you know the movies were based on a series of novels?

In 1953, former British spy (well, "naval intelligence officer") Ian Fleming published Casino Royale, the first of his 12 novels (plus two books of short stories) featuring a character who introduced himself as "Bond. James Bond." Since Fleming's death in 1964, over 35 novels by other authors have featured the man with a "license to kill" and the code number 007 ("double-oh-seven").

In 1962, the sixth novel in Fleming's series--Dr. No--was made into the first James Bond film, and starred Sean Connery. Connery made a total of seven Bond films; since then, six other men have played the role, and there's talk of a future Bond being a woman.

So who exactly is James Bond? He's a public servant in his mid-to-late thirties, who never seems to age. Born in Scotland of a Scottish father and a Swiss mother, as a boy he spent time abroad, where he learned German and French. He was orphaned at age 11 when his parents died in a mountain climbing accident, and he then lived with an aunt.

He joined the secret service around age 18--shortly before the start of World War II--and rose in the ranks of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, ending the war as a commander. (In the films he is sometimes addressed as "Commander Bond.") The story in Fleming's first book starts around this time.

The adult Bond lives alone in London (except for a short time in the fourth novel, Diamonds Are Forever, when a woman named Tiffany Case shares his flat). He is married once, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (the 11th book), but very briefly: his bride is killed on their wedding day by one of Bond's nemeses, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Bond also fathers a child with a Japanese pearl diver. While he is living with her undercover, he suffers amnesia, and really believes that he is a fisherman. She doesn't tell him about the child before he leaves to find his true identity.

The film version of Bond is smirky, gadget-loving, and debonair. Fleming’s version is more staid. He wanted his character--and the name--to be dull: "Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure." He couldn't imagine that his creation's name would become synonymous with the "international man of mystery."


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. amnesia
  2. debonair
  3. exotic
  4. gadget
  5. nemeses
  6. orphaned
  7. smirky
  8. staid
  9. synonymous
  10. undercover

  1. having sophisticated charm
  2. loss of memory
  3. a device
  4. attractively foreign
  5. serious; boring
  6. using a different identity
  7. smiling offensively
  8. meaning the same as
  9. left without parents
  10. long-term enemies

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 10, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. b; 2. a; 3. d; 4. c; 5. j; 6. i; 7. g; 8. e; 9. h; 10. f