Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Our James Bond Girls? Just Asking
In this week's episode of MEG-A-RAE, the Library's readers' advisory video blog (vlog), Programma Mama and Savvy discussed spy novels, including Ian Fleming's James Bond series and the resultant motion picture adaptations [including the most recent effort, Skyfall (2012)]. Does that make them our Bond girls? Just asking.
MEG-A-RAE #16: A Very Special Super Spy Episode,
Starring Savvy & Programma Mama
Ian Fleming (1908-1964) may still be dead, but his literary creation lives on in cinema. Unfortunately, this renders the original James Bond novels and short stories too "dated" (and, consequently, unpalatable) for most modern readers' tastes. Fleming's literary James Bond evokes an era that is now more than a half-century removed from contemporary events. What else could one expect? Fleming published his Bond tales during the 1950s, and his own espionage experiences during World War II fueled plots and settings for his most famous fictional character's imaginary encounters. In a word, the "print" James Bond seems anachronistic when compared with the character's contemporary movies, which attempt to update plot scenarios to match current events. Perhaps this is why my Library's many James Bond books have not circulated in over two decades and consequently have suffered the indignity of the collection developer's deselection in recent fiction "weeding."
Try reading James Bond as loosely-based historical fiction. That way, Fleming's outdated social attitudes and plot devices are acceptable as rooted in post-World War II environments. Forget the movies--make no comparisons whatsoever and read the books without any preconceptions--and you may still glean some enjoyment from them. For some human folks, however, there's no getting past Fleming's apparent misogynistic tone. Well, western Anglo-American culture has certainly changed in half a century, and male chauvinism is a tiresome relic at best. If you have trouble with that, try reading Ian Fleming's children's book, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: the Magical Car (1964). Fleming wrote it for his son, Caspar.
Meanwhile, take a peek at the other books that Savvy and Programma Mama showcased in their video. You could do lots worse.
I Spy Something That Starts With . . .,
Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Readers' Advisory News Beat
P.S. One of the greatest James Bond spoofs was the 1960s television series Get Smart, created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. Here is an excerpt from the first episode, "Mr. Big" (first broadcast September 18, 1965 on the NBC network). Playing Agent 86 (Maxwell Smart) was actor Don Adams, with "the Chief" being played by actor Edward Platt.