The James Bond Dossier (1965)

The second significant critical analysis of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. This book, along with O. F. Snelling's Double 0 Seven James Bond: A Report, are required reading for those interested in the James Bond novels.

History will show that James Bond, the fabulous 007, is not merely the most popular hero of mid-century fiction. He is an outright Cultural Phenomenon. And yet this subjugator of Goldfinger and Dr. No, this ravisher of Pussy Galore and all the other stunning Bond-women, is a hero without honor in his own time. For Bond's popularity has made him suspect in the minds of certain snobs and critics. Now to his rescue comes that puissant defender of human rights, the irreverent author of Lucky Jim, the notorious Kingsley Amis.

In this dossier, Amis probes the secret of the secret agent's dazzling success. Perusing all thirteen thrillers from Casino Royale to The Man with the Golden Gun, he sets out to prove that Bond is a hero cut to the measure of the twentieth century. Amis sees Bond as a fantasy figure solidly based in realism: part Don Juan, part Don Quixote, part everyman (or what everyman would like to be). He points out that Bond must undergo rigid training to accomplish his superhuman feats. Before his Caribbean exploits, he puts himself through rigorous swimming and running courses; before he clobbers Hugo Drax at bridge, he spends half an hour working through the drills given in a standard book on cheating. Bond is always up against someone better than himself, but he is never afraid to take anyone on.

While analyzing his hero's very human characteristics, Amis takes time out to swing gleefully at the critics of the late Ian Fleming, whom he labels “old maids of both sexes.” Quoting their outraged protests, he beats them with their own stick, with sly Freudian hints as to why they consider Bond lecherous, sadistic, snobbish, etc., etc.

The real Bond, as Amis sees him, is just the opposite of what the critics proclaim. In his view, the secret agent with the dark eyes and “rather cruel mouth” is the prototype of the modern Hero — a champion of Glory, Guts, Honor, and Romance… old-fashioned virtues that have been sold out in the dreary world of the psychoanalyst, the private eye, and the prig.


Kingsley Amis 4 items

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