Saturday, 26 February 2011

Who can you believe in the world of spy fiction?

Christine Granville
I - and a number of other commentators - have read with interest a story being reported by Guy Walters in this week's Daily Telegraph about a new book on the origins of the James Bond story by Claire Mulley.

This book, cunningly titled The Spy Who Loved (do you see what the publishers did there?) is pitched as a history of espionage during wartime focusing on the life of agent Christine Granville - supposedly, the inspiration for the Vesper Lynd character.  As Walters writes, it has "that link with James Bond, with the implied licence to print money."

But, he writes, it’s all too good to be true. Much of what Mulley has written is as transparently wrong as a badly forged passport - and we owe the discovery of these facts in part to friend of this blog and "heir to Deighton" (c) Jeremy Duns, who has written a very long essay on the murky history of previous attempts to fabricate new wrinkles in the long literary history of Ian Fleming and the character of James Bond, and develop new theories about the origins of key characters, in particular the persistent link of Christine Granville with Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale.

Like an agent after two days of solid interrogation, Mulley's cover story it would appear is starting to unravel, and questions are now being raised about the publication of the book.

A tale about espionage, with duplicity, fabrication and cover-ups? There's a book in there somewhere.

Rest assured, on the Deighton Dossier, you'll only ever find fact about fiction, not fictional facts.

1 comment:

  1. For a thoroughly fascinating take on Ian Fleming and his motivations, I recommend "The Bond Code," by Philip Gardiner.

    Product Description
    Ian Fleming's stories about "Bond...James Bond" are not just popular spy thrillers. They're also a collection of secret codes.

    The Bond Code is the remarkable story of how Fleming's association with the occult world led him to create a masterful series of clever clues, ciphers, and codes within his books. Philip Gardiner finally unravels the secret of James Bond piece by piece from the novels and films used to create his aura of mystique. This book introduces not just new material, but radically reappraises everything we thought we knew about James Bond--and his creator.

    Gardiner reveals a plethora of fascinating clues that have been hiding in plain sight. For example, Bond's famous 007 designation--a sacred numerological code--was the way Dr. John Dee, an infamous 16th century magician, occultist, and spy, signed his letters. And Queen Elizabeth I signed her replies to Dee as "M"! Dee was thrown out of his university for claiming to create a flying machine. Unknown to many, it was Ian Fleming who wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, featuring, of course, a flying car. Was it a coincidence that Fleming was reading a biography of Dee while he was writing Casino Royale, the first Bond novel?

    In You Only Live Twice, Fleming's final novel published while Fleming was alive, Bond is "promoted" and given a new number--7777, which, numerologically, means "it is done." This novel also has a very Japanese flavor because interestingly, in Eastern numerology, 7777 represents the absolute limit or the end.

    There are numerous references throughout the books to Gnostic, mystic, and alchemist symbols. Even character names are often clues to Fleming's secrets. Auric Goldfinger, for example, is an alchemical term. Auric means "gold" and the golden finger indicates the alchemist himself, who turns lead into gold. Hugo (mind, spirit, or heart) Drax (dragon or winged serpent) means the "mind of the serpent"--in alchemy, the serpent is the symbol of regeneration and wisdom, but also of negative energy.
    From the Back Cover
    "Among the most enjoyable works on and around Bond is The Bond Code. It's a splendid piece...which asserts that the young Fleming plotted to create Bond 'as a great alchemical work to fulfill his own tumultuous and chaotic mind' while leaving 'a set of clues and codes for us to decipher.'"

    --Daily Telegraph