Goldfinger

by Ian Fleming

 

As per usual, we start by pointing out Fleming’s completely inappropriate use of racial and sexual stereotypes. To whit:

Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality’. As a result of fifty years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits–barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied. He was sorry for them, but he had no time for them.

What the fuck Ian? It’s hard to even copy that stuff out; imagining you typing it, presumably with a strong drink and a lit cigar, boggles my mind. And I don’t even know what to make of this:

She pursed her lips obstinately. ‘Why should I do what you say?’

Bond sighed. ‘There’s no point in being a suffragette about this. It’s either that or get yourself  killed after breakfast. It’s up to you.’

The mouth turned down with distaste. She shrugged her shoulders. She said ungraciously, ‘Oh, all right then.’ Suddenly her eyes flared. ‘Only don’t ever touch me or I shall kill you.’

GoldfingerThere came the click of Bond’s bedroom door. Bond looked mildly down at Tilly Masterton. ‘The challenge is attractive. But don’t worry. I won’t take it up.’ He turned and strolled out of the room.

I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive when I pause after a passage like that. I mean, seriously, what the fuck? I really can’t defend it in the slightest, so I won’t. You just have to ignore it. Even when Fleming has the formerly lesbian Pussy Galore betray her loyalties in order to help our hero–which, nonsensical to begin with, becomes even more ridiculous when you remember that the two characters had only once spoken, and only to confirm Pussy’s preferences–I have to just let it go. After all, I know this stuff is coming, and I know I can get good mileage out of it on my blog.

So why bother reading Goldfinger or the other Bond books? For one thing, Fleming’s actually a great writer. Bond’s zest for perfectly prepared food (everything in Bond’s life must be perfect) wouldn’t work if readers didn’t find themselves agreeing with him. Even I, a gentleman not remotely interested in seafood, start smacking my lips at the prospect of joining Bond in Miami for a crab dinner, potentially followed by smoking and card-playing. Even golf, when giving the Fleming treatment, sounds appealing enough to make this blogger want to hit the links. Fleming’s writing has a confidence that comes out in Bond’s character, evoking that “men want to be him” feeling we’re always talking about.

On the other hand, he also frequently refers to Koreans as “apes,” so there’s that.

Golden words he will pour in your ear,
But his lies can’t disguise what you fear!
For a golden girl knows when he’s kissed her,
It’s the kiss of death! from Mr.
Goldfinger!

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