The history of the editing of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels begins with the very first, CASINO ROYALE (1953). It was slightly edited in places when it was published in America to suit the sensibilities of the American audience. Andrew Lycett’s biography of Ian Fleming reveals how Fleming’s American editor toned down some of the language used to describe one of the love scenes between Bond and Vesper Lynd depicted in Fleming’s debut novel:
‘In New York, Al Hart, Ian’s editor at Macmillan, was wielding the blue pencil on Casino Royale. Ian was unconcerned about possible mutilation of his masterwork. Indeed he specifically asked Naomi Burton at Curtis Brown, “Would Al Hart like to take a bit of the edge off the torture scene? He can certainly do so if he wants to.” The incident, where Bond’s genitals were whipped with a carpet beater, remained intact, but Hart did suggest some alterations to spare the blushes of American readers. Where Ian had written, “He slipped his hands down to her swelling buttocks and gripped them fiercely, pressing the centres of their bodies together. Panting, she slipped her mouth away from his and they clung together while he rubbed his cheek against hers and felt her hard breasts pressing into him” Hart’s bowdlerised version did not quite have the same urgency: “His hand slipped down her back and pressed her body fiercely to his. Panting, she slipped her mouth away and they clung together; he brushed her ear with his lips and felt the firm warmth of her breasts against him.” Hart asked plaintively, “That’s not too emasculated, do you think?”
Ian could not care less. He told Hart that he had been kinder than Naomi Burton who had argued about “the relative impropriety attached to the front and back of a woman”. However, at this stage, Ian was more interested in sales promotion than textual exegesis.’ (‘Ian Fleming,’ Andrew Lycett, Phoenix, London, 2002, p. 249)
Later in Lycett’s biography of Fleming the re-launch of CASINO ROYALE under a new title in America is documented:
‘Bond provided the other main reason for Ian’s transatlantic jaunt. There were signs that the American reading public was beginning to take notice of him. In April a paperback version of Casino Royale had been published by Pocket books, with a new title, You Asked For It, and a suggestive dime-store cover showing a girl in erotic déshabillé.’ (‘Ian Fleming,’ Andrew Lycett, Phoenix, London, 2002, p. 275)
Since publication, some of Fleming’s Bond novels have also been banned in certain countries through falling foul of the censor. The earliest banning of a Bond novel was LIVE AND LET DIE, which was banned in the Republic of Ireland in 1954. Andew Lycett’s biography of Fleming confirms that this banning, rather like the joint condemnation from the Vatican and the Kremlin that met Eon Production’s DR. NO (1962), did the promotion of the novel no real harm:
‘The banning of Live and Let Die in Ireland in May helped the general publicity.’ (‘Ian Fleming,’ Andrew Lycett, Phoenix, London, 2002, p. 255)
The Republic of Ireland has a long history of banning books from publication. The Republic of Ireland’s culture was very moral and religious with Roman Catholicism being the religion of 93% of the population. The Irish Censorship of Publications Board that banned LIVE AND LET DIE are a still functioning independent board that was established by the Censorship of Publications Act, 1929 in Southern Ireland. Its function is to examine books and periodicals that are for sale in the Republic of Ireland. At the time of the banning of LIVE AND LET DIE from publication in 1954 the Censorship of Publications Acts of 1929 and 1946 governed it, but there was also a new act passed afterwards in 1967, which added an amendment limiting the period of prohibition orders of books to a period of twelve years, but the Board could then ban the book again. The Censorship of Publications Board could prohibit the buying, selling or distribution of any publication deemed indecent or obscene in the Republic of Ireland. Each of the five members of the Board had to read the publication under consideration before any decision on whether or not it was to be prohibited could be taken. For a book to be banned at least three members of the Board had to agree with the decision and only one member was allowed to dissent. When considering a book, the Board measured its literary, scientific and historical merit and also took into account the language in which it was written and the likely audience it was intended for. Some of Fleming’s literary contemporaries’ novels were also banned in the Republic of Ireland. Fellow espionage novelist Graham Greene’s novel THE HEART OF THE MATTER (1948) was banned for instance, as were works by the author of the ASHENDEN spy short story collection – W. Somerset Maugham, who influenced Fleming to write his Bond short story QUANTUM OF SOLACE. Evelyn Waugh, the author of BRIDESHEAD REVISTED, and an acquaintance of Ann Fleming, also had books that fell foul of the Irish censor. In 1950 the English poet, novelist and critic Robert Graves, who had work banned in the Republic of Ireland, described the Irish censorship laws as ‘the fiercest literary censorship this side of the Iron Curtain.’
Nowadays, however, the Republic of Ireland’s attitude to censorship has greatly changed. Since the 1990s the Censorship of Publications Board does not prohibit publications very often. The popular Irish radio station RTÉ 2 FM plays songs from the top artists with any strong language unedited out before the watershed. RTÉ 2FM also has presenters who swear over the air long before the watershed. Such use of swear words is not generally tolerated on BBC radio for instance, and if swear words are broadcast the complaints that ensue mean an apology often has to be made. Some of the Irish tabloids, such as the Irish Daily Star also contain swear words in their headlines from time to time.
LIVE AND LET DIE (1954) also underwent censorship when it was published in America, mainly due to the depiction of the novel’s black villains, but also due to the correction of local details. As Andrew Lycett’s biography notes,
‘With a few changes for the local market, Live and Let Die was published in the United States in January to an unenthusiastic response. Only 5,000 copies were sold and Al Hart at Macmillan was uncharacteristically blunt when he said, “Mr Bond will have to do better than this.”’ (‘Ian Fleming,’ Andrew Lycett, Phoenix, London, 2002, p. 268)
The most visible change is the fact that Chapter 5 in the original British edition of the novel entitled ‘Nigger Heaven’ is unsurprisingly renamed ‘Seventh Avenue’ in the American edition. The American censor also heavily edited the dialogue in this chapter to the extent that a whole passage detailing an argument between a black man and his girlfriend is entirely cut, and dialogue spoken by Felix Leiter is also edited.
In the Berkley eighth printing of LIVE AND LET DIE in paperback form in October 1985 it says that ‘This Berkley book contains the complete text of the original hardcover edition,’ which is cited in the printing history as having first been published by Macmillan in 1954. The British edition featured this passage in the chapter entitled ‘Nigger Heaven’:
‘One can try,’ said Leiter. ‘But I know what you mean – better the frying-pan you know than the fire you don’t. It isn’t a bad life when it consists of sitting in a comfortable bar drinking good whisky. How do you like this corner of the jungle?’ He leant forward. ‘Just listen to the couple behind you. From what I’ve heard they’re straight out of “Nigger Heaven”.’ (‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1963, p. 46)
The passage was changed considerably in the American edition:
‘One can try,’ said Leiter. ‘But I know what you mean – better the frying-pan you know than the fire you don’t. It isn’t a bad life when it consists of sitting in a comfortable bar drinking good whisky.’
They finished their drinks and Bond called for the check.’
(‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Berkley Books, New York, 1985, p. 41)
In the British edition Bond and Leiter had overheard an argument between a black man and his girlfriend that used the dialogue which Fleming, and indeed Raymond Chandler, were very impressed with at the time. The “Nigger Heaven” phrase that Leiter used in the British edition is also removed as it formed the chapter title in the original version. It was obviously removed, as it would have been seen as more overtly racist, offensive and derogatory to black readers and indeed to some of the American public at large. The physical descriptions of the couple and their dialogue took up over two and a half pages in the Pan paperback edition but the passage was entirely cut in the American edition. It could be said that the passage didn’t really contribute anything in terms of advancement of plot, but was just inserted by Fleming to give a dash of ‘local colour.’ Today Fleming’s descriptions and dialogue for his black characters are seen as rather patronising and even racially offensive, but such writing must be looked at from the very different social perspective of the times. In April 2003, however, Penguin Books published LIVE AND LET DIE in a new paperback edition in America, which restored the omitted text and included the original title of Chapter 5, “Nigger Heaven”. Fleming’s Bond novels had been out of print in America for a number of years before the Penguin reprints came along.
Not all of the changes in the text between the British and American editions of LIVE AND LET DIE were to do with the depiction of the black characters in the novel. Some of the changes that were made in the Macmillan edition had also to do with correcting minute mistakes that Fleming had made that would be spotted by the native population that were more familiar with such details. The interesting article ‘The Mystery Trains of LIVE AND LET DIE’ by John Cork of the Ian Fleming Foundation reveals some of the mistakes Fleming made about the trains Bond and Solitaire travel on in LIVE AND LET DIE, and the changes that Al Hart made as a result:
‘Bond and Solitaire travel on the Silver Phantom from New York in the novel, leaving the train in Jacksonville, Florida. Fleming describes the trains in Penn Station in the British edition: “Under the bare electric bulbs the horizontal purple and gold bands, the colours of the (sic) Seaboard Railroad, glowed regally on the streamlined locomotives.” [‘Live and Let Die,’ Pan Books Ltd, London, 1963, p. 95]
It seemed odd that Fleming would get a detail like this wrong. He travelled with a small notebook, which he kept to jot down just such notes. Nonetheless, Fleming's American editor, Al Hart, made some changes to the text, including to the above line. Hart altered the line to reflect the real colours of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, including the train's proper full name. Even though the true Seaboard's colors [sic] were not as traditionally “regal” as Fleming's purple and gold bands. The American version reads as follows: “Under the bare electric bulbs the horizontal green, red, and yellow bands, the colours of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, glowed regally on the streamlined locomotives.” [‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Berkley Books, New York, 1985, p. 83]
In fact, Fleming originally described the colours of the Atlantic Coast Line, a competitor of Seaboard's for the lucrative NYC to Florida market.’ (Excerpt from ‘The Mystery Trains of LIVE AND LET DIE’ by John Cork)
Another example of the many edits made to LIVE AND LET DIE concerns Fleming’s description of American cuisine. In the fourth chapter of the novel, ‘The Big Switchboard,’ Bond enjoys a meal in the British edition:
“He had a typical American meal at an eating house called ‘Gloryfried Ham-N-Eggs’ (‘The Eggs We Serve Tomorrow Are Still in the Hens’) on Lexington Avenue and then took a cab downtown to police headquarters, where he was due to meet Leiter and Dexter at 2.30.” (‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1963, p. 34)
In the American edition the passage appeared slightly differently:
“He had a typical American meal at a restaurant called ‘Glorifried Ham-N-Eggs’ (‘The Eggs We Serve Tomorrow Are Still on the Farm Today’) on Lexington Avenue and then took a cab downtown to police headquarters, where he was due to meet Leiter and Dexter at two-thirty.” (‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Berkley Books, New York, 1985, p. 30)
In the American version the clever marketing ploy of combining ‘glorified’ with ‘fried’ to make ‘gloryfried’ is changed to ‘glorifried,’ it is described as a ‘restaurant’ and not an ‘eating house’ and the eggs are now advertised as being ‘on the Farm Today’ instead of still being in the hens. The time that Bond was due to meet Felix Leiter and Captain Dexter is also changed from figures in the British edition to words in the American edition. These cultural changes in the American edition were made because clearly the American editors were not nearly as amazed as Fleming - ‘the Englishman abroad’ - was by the different nature of American cuisine and culture. Perhaps they thought such references would be patronising for the American readership, as it would be instantly more familiar to them. It is perhaps ironic that the change was made to the slogan of the American ‘eating house,’ as Fleming, being the brilliant journalistic observer of other countries and cultures that he was, would surely have copied it verbatim from just such a place into his notebook for later use.
Fleming’s third James Bond novel, MOONRAKER (1955) was re-titled
TOO HOT TO HANDLE when Perma Books published it in America in 1956. Perhaps this was to avoid confusion with Arthur Watkin’s stage play THE MOONRAKER, which was running at the time and was filmed under the same title in 1958. As was the case with the first American editions of CASINO ROYALE, the novel was subtitled MOONRAKER on the cover. TOO HOT TO HANDLE was notable for being the only Fleming Bond novel that was “Americanised,” meaning the exchanging of American idioms for British ones such as “jack of hearts” for “knave of hearts” in the Blades bridge scene and “elevator” for “lift.” The title was later changed back to MOONRAKER in America in 1960. Fleming and his publishers themselves went through various title suggestions for the novel, such as THE INFERNAL MACHINE, WIDE OF THE MARK and THE INHUMAN ELEMENT, before finally settling on the simple, yet effective, MOONRAKER.
On only two separate occasions did Ian Fleming intervene and change elements of the text and circulation of his Bond novels after publication. In his biography of the author, John Pearson reveals how Fleming was forced to revise a character name in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1956) when the friend he had taken it from objected:
‘…[Fleming] found that his little habit of amusing himself by bestowing the names of friends or relatives on characters in his novels had this time involved him in a difficulty. […] But when Diamonds Are Forever was published one of the victims objected strenuously to Fleming’s private joke. This was Anne’s cousin, the present Lord Arran, the columnist, who in those days was known as “Boofy” Gore. As a surprise for him Fleming borrowed the nickname and attached it to a particularly unsavoury character in the book. Great displeasure had resulted, and this was the only occasion when Fleming is known to have apologised and changed the name of one of his characters in subsequent editions.
He had not meant to be unkind. Although he was the most selfish and egocentric of men in the way he planned his life and pursued his objectives, he could take much trouble over the people he cared for.’ (‘The Life of Ian Fleming,’ John Pearson, The Companion Book Club, London, 1966, pp. 300-01)
In Andrew Lycett’s biography of Fleming there is an elaboration on the “Boofy” Gore episode:
‘Ann was game enough to jump to her husband’s defence and help defuse a potentially tricky legal problem when, on Easter Day, she received an apopleptic call from her relative by marriage, “Boofy” Gore, later the Earl of Arran. Gore had been alerted by Lord Lambton to a passage in Diamonds Are Forever which ran, “Kidd’s a pretty boy. His friends call him ‘Boofy’. Probably shacks up with Wint. Some of these homos make the worst killers. Kidd’s got white hair though he’s only thirty. That’s why he works in a hood.” Ian had done his usual trick of assigning the names of friends and acquaintances to his characters. But Kidd was a particularly unpleasant character. Gore railed against Ann: Ian was his best friend, how could she have allowed him to do this? Ann replied that she was only married to Ian: she had neither written nor even read the book in question. Still fuming, Gore contacted Ann’s sister, Laura, who telephoned Ann, by then out at church for Easter Sunday matins. Fionn fielded her aunt’s abuse: “Your mother may like pansies but other people don’t. Don’t forget Boofy has a million friends and Ian has none.” (‘Ian Fleming,’ Andrew Lycett, Phoenix, London, 2002, pp. 288-89)
Andy Lane and Paul Simpson’s book THE BOND FILES (2000) actually gives the character name change Fleming was forced to make in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER:
“In the first edition of the book, Kidd was given the nickname ‘Boofy’ as a reference to a friend of Ian Fleming – ‘Boofy’ Gore – who later became Lord Arran. Gore was reportedly very unhappy that his nickname had been purloined, and Fleming had it changed in later editions to ‘Boofuls’ Kidd.” (‘The Bond Files,’ Revised and Updated Second Edition, Andy Lane and Paul Simpson, Virgin Publishing Limited, London, 2000, p. 23)
In the 1962 eight printing of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER in Pan paperbacks, however, and therefore presumably in all of the previous Pan editions of the novel, Kidd is still referred to by Leiter in the text as ‘Boofy,’ and not the nickname ‘Boofuls’ which Fleming had it changed to. Presumably the change of Kidd’s nickname was made only in the later reprints of the novel in hardback by Jonathan Cape beyond the first edition, and Pan Books Ltd. took its’ text from the Jonathan Cape first edition which contained the ‘Boofy’ nickname. Then again, perhaps Arthur ‘Boofy’ Gore forgave Fleming and permitted him to allow the paperback edition to use his nickname, or, more probably he had no control over the paperback editions or perhaps he did not notice that they had reverted to using his nickname again.
There was a slight amendment made to later editions of Fleming’s FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE (1957). Fleming’s original manuscript had the title ‘From Russia, With Love,’ but later published editions of the novel had no comma in the title and a lower case ‘w,’ so that the title appeared as ‘From Russia with Love.’ The film version used this slightly amended title when it was released in 1963.
Fleming’s sixth Bond novel, DR. NO (1958) also underwent some amendments when it was published in different editions. DR. NO was serialised in America under the title NUDE GIRL OF NIGHTMARE KEY. Hutchinson Educational Ltd. published a special ‘junior’ edition entitled DOCTOR NO under their Bulls-Eye Books range in 1973, which was adapted from the Fleming source novel by Patrick Nobles. The violence, in what critics saw as Fleming’s most sadistic novel, was carefully toned down and the sexual content was removed entirely. As well as a simplified text, the Bulls-Eye edition of DOCTOR NO also included drawings of Bond’s guns, and sketch maps of the West Indies showing both Jamaica and a plan view of Crab Key. Other junior editions from Hutchinson Educational included Fleming’s LIVE AND LET DIE and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.
DR. NO was also the first Fleming Bond novel to contain a censored swear word (the f-word) in dialogue. In the particular scene Quarrel, on Bond’s instructions, is twisting the arm of the Chinese ‘freelance’ photographer, Annabel Chung in order to procure information, who for the second time has taken Bond’s photograph. Bond is trying to make the stubborn Chung see sense and relent to Quarrel’s pressure:
“Tell,” said Bond softly. “Tell and it will stop and we’ll be friends and have a drink.” He was getting worried. The girl’s arm must be on the verge of breaking.
“____ you.” Suddenly the girl’s left hand flew up and into Quarrel’s face. Bond was too slow to stop her. Something glinted and there was a sharp explosion. Bond snatched at her arm and dragged it back. Blood was streaming down Quarrel’s cheek. Glass and metal tinkled onto the table. She had smashed the flashbulb on Quarrel’s face. If she had been able to reach an eye it would have been blinded.” (‘Dr. No,’
Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1965, p. 38)
In this instance it gave the scene more bite and added to the sense of the Chinese photographer’s clear venom at her captors.
In GOLDFINGER (1959) there is another rare four-letter word (again the ‘f-word’) spoken by Bond in an understandably angry exchange with Goldfinger as a circular saw is about to cut him in half. In the scene in Chapter 15 of the novel, entitled ‘The Pressure Room,’ there is the following passage:
“Bond decided it was time to stop talking. It was time to start winding up the mainspring of will-power that must not run down again until he was dead. Bond said politely, ‘Then you can go and ____ yourself.’ He expelled all the breath from his lungs and closed his eyes.
‘Even I am not capable of that, Mr Bond,’ said Goldfinger with good humour.” (‘Goldfinger,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1965, p. 150)
The swear word was already edited out before publication, and it is an understandable piece of censorship. Perhaps it was even censored out like this on Fleming’s manuscript. Four letter words have never featured very heavily in Fleming’s novels and this was only the second time Fleming had used the ‘f-word’ in his dialogue. Although Fleming and his creation were certainly not prudish about strong language, these kind of swear words feel out of place in the literary Bond’s world, and are thankfully used sparingly by the author so that in the rare instance when they are used, they are all the more effective as a result. In Raymond Benson’s continuation Bond novels there has been a greater use of strong language. For instance, Benson’s second Bond novel, THE FACTS OF DEATH (1998) contained a passage where Felix Leiter used the ‘f-word’ heavily.
In THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER (1965) Kingsley Amis states that ‘The Spy Who Loved Me was banned in Australia and the Central African Federation.’ (‘The James Bond Dossier,’ Kingsley Amis, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1966, p. 85). The Central African Federation was brought into existence by the Conservative government in Britain in 1953 by combining the territories of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in southern Africa. It was also less commonly known as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and it came to an end in 1963. Australia still has high levels of book censorship compared to other democratic nations, such as in Europe and in North America. Many books are apparently banned in Australia through fears that they may offend certain segments of the population. Books containing erotica (which THE SPY WHO LOVED ME could possibly be said to qualify for with the cinema seduction scene with Derek) and illegal drug use are the most readily banned in Australia. In a footnote in THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER, Amis says that Punch disliked the book for being ‘pornographic,’ and he believed that the ‘hideous seduction scene in a cinema’ was what they were referring to. Amis actually thought that the scene could not be more anti-pornographic and, in defence of Fleming, noted that the term is commonly misused to mean ‘concerned with physical sex.’ (Ibid, p. 59) THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1962) was most probably banned in these countries due primarily to the comments that arose from Fleming’s use of the first-person female viewpoint of the heroine, Vivienne Michel. Towards the end of the novel, after having just made love to Bond, she infamously suggests that,
‘All women love semi-rape. They love to be taken. It was his sweet brutality against my bruised body that had made his act of love so piercingly beautiful.’ (‘The Spy Who Loved Me,’ Ian Fleming, Jonathan Cape, London, Fifth Impression, 1963, p. 197).
It is somewhat strange that the novel did not follow the fate of LIVE AND LET DIE and receive a banning order in the Republic of Ireland also. The Censorship Board provided under The Censorship of Publications Act of 1929 and 1946 in the Republic of Ireland could prohibit the sale and distribution of a book that was not only ‘indecent or obscene’ but also that advocated ‘the unnatural prevention of conception or the procurement of abortion or miscarriage or the use of any method, treatment or appliance for the purpose of such prevention or procurement.’ Perhaps the abortion described by Vivienne Michel was the reason that the novel was banned in several countries around the world. In THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, Vivienne Michel tells the reader how she was forced to have an abortion by her German lover, Kurt Rainer, when she tells him that she is pregnant with his child:
‘The business of my abortion, not to mince words, was good training for my new role. The concierge at my hotel looked at me with the world-weary eyes of all concierges and said that the hotel doctor was on holiday but that there was another who was equally proficient. (Did he know? Did he guess?) Dr Susskind examined me and asked if I had enough money. When I said I had, he seemed disappointed. The gynaecologist was more explicit. It seemed that he had a chalet. Hotels in Zurich were so expensive. Would I not care to have a period of rest before the operation? I looked at him with stony eyes and said that the British Consul, who was my uncle, had invited me to recuperate with his family and I would be glad if I could enter the clinic without any delay. It was he who had recommended Dr Susskind. No doubt Herr Doktor Braunschweig knew the Consul?
My hocus-pocus was just good enough. It had been delivered with my new decisive manner and the gambit had been thought out beforehand. The bifocals registered shock. There were coolly fervent explanations and a hasty telephone call to the clinic. Yes, indeed. Tomorrow afternoon. Just with my overnight things.
It was as mentally distressing but as physically painless as I had expected, and three days later I was back in my hotel.’ (‘The Spy Who Loved Me,’ Ian Fleming, Jonathan Cape, London, Fifth Impression, 1963, pp. 81-2).
After the largely negative critical fall-out which resulted from Fleming’s attempt to “examine Bond from the other end of the gun barrel” in which he had for the first time written a Bond novel in the first person narrative of the heroine, and in which Bond only appeared two-thirds of the way through, he tried to stop any further print runs of the novel. This was one of the few times that Ian Fleming actually acted as his own censor. As Lycett’s biography of Fleming reveals:
‘To his publisher Ian admitted that his “experiment” had “obviously gone very much awry”. As a result he asked [Michael] Howard [a director at Jonathan Cape] to help him ensure that The Spy Who Loved Me had “as short a life as possible”. Calling on Jonathan Cape to accept its share of their inevitable joint financial sacrifice in “as friendly a spirit as you can muster”, Ian requested that there should be no reprints and no paperback version of his controversial book. Ann’s reaction suggested what a trying partner she could be. Having badgered Ian and made him feel guilty about the book, she wrote to Evelyn Waugh the following day, telling him in confidence of her husband’s resolve. But, true to character and conscious of the need to keep the Bond cash cow producing, she could not resist adding flippantly, “I am doing my best to resolve this foolish gesture because of the yellow silk for the drawing-room walls.”’ (‘Ian Fleming,’ Andrew Lycett, Phoenix, London, 2002, p. 402)
After Fleming’s death in August 1964, Lycett reveals how Fleming’s wish not to have THE SPY WHO LOVED ME republished beyond its Jonathan Cape hardback editions and Book Club editions was abandoned:
‘The Fleming backlist was exploited for all its worth: after the idea of issuing The Spy Who Loved Me in paperback arose, Hugh Fisher, one of the title’s trustees, was unhappy about appearing to ignore Ian’s express wish that it should be assigned to the literary scrapheap. When Peter Janson-Smith, as Ian’s agent, produced solid evidence that Ian had not meant what he said, Fisher nevertheless felt duty bound to resign.’ (‘Ian Fleming,’ Andrew Lycett, Phoenix, London, 2002, p. 446)
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME also appeared in a condensed form in Stag Annual men’s magazine, published by Atlas Magazines in 1964 under the title MOTEL NYMPH. It featured rather salacious illustrations of Vivienne Michel, Bond and the other characters from the novel. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was finally published in paperback form by Pan Books in Britain in 1967, the year in which Fleming’s last three published Bond short stories also appeared in Pan paperbacks under the shortened title OCTOPUSSY.
Ian Fleming also stated that he did not want the film producers, Harry Saltzman and Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli to use any more than the title of the novel for any future film. He did not want any of the plot of his novel to be filmed, but wanted an original story to be written for the title. This was what happened when THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was filmed in 1977, of course. There were, however, two small links to the Fleming novel in Roger Moore’s third outing as James Bond, despite Fleming’s wishes. Fleming’s primary villainous thug in the novel, Sol ‘Horror’ Horowitz has steel-capped teeth, a feature which Karl Stromberg’s steel toothed henchman, Jaws, was to inherit. Another scene that was borrowed slightly from the novel was where Major Anya Amasova finds Jaws in her wardrobe on the train. In the novel, Vivienne had found ‘Horror’ hiding in her wardrobe.
In Soviet Russia it was not just the literary James Bond that was banned, but the cinematic incarnation also. As Vladislav Pavlov wrote in his article entitled ‘Behind Enemy Lines, The Russian Perspective’ in the ‘James Bond 007: Goldfinger’ Titan comic strip book:
“Penetration of the Iron Curtain was always quite a difficult task, even for a fictitious spy. The tightly sealed borders and propaganda machine sifted out all the material venerating the ‘capitalistic way of life’ and anti-Soviet ideas, leaving no chance for the forbidden fruits of the ‘decadent West’ to ripen. So it’s no wonder that anything concerning the notorious James Bond was officially banned in the USSR.”
At the beginning of the article there is an interesting quote from the state pedalled propaganda against Ian Fleming’s creation:
“James Bond lives in a nightmarish world where laws are written at the point of a gun, where coercion and rape is considered valour and murder is a funny trick.” (Yuri Zhukov, Pravda Newspaper, September 30, 1965)
Vladislav Pavlov reveals that despite this propaganda from the state organs against James Bond he was still a figure that was well known:
“the very names of Ian Fleming and his creation were well-known, and occasional articles, similar to Zhukov’s one, would appear in the Soviet media attacking 007, vilifying him, juggling with facts for the benefit of the regime. As a result, in this maze of propaganda, lies and distorted mirrors, the Russian people would catch occasional glimpses of Bond’s shadow.”
The article also makes it clear that there was an intellectual underground that took the risk and were able to get hold of Ian Fleming’s banned Bond novels:
“Some people studying English or those involved in the publishing business were also on occasion lucky enough to lay their hands on a few smuggled paperbacks, including Fleming’s novels. […] In short, to be published in the USSR, a novel had to be politically neutral, with no anti-Soviet ideas or, better still, actually criticise the American ‘way of life’. James Bond’s escapades did not match these criteria, so, for the huddled masses, 007 remained the proverbial forbidden fruit.”
With the advent of the era of perestroika and glasnost ushered in by Mikhail Gorbachev censorship in Russia was beginning to cease to exist. As Pavlov writes:
“Moreover, the first Russian editions of Ian Fleming’s novels appeared in bookshops, the short stories often published discreetly as leaflets. Due to the then lack of copyrights law, the market was all but deluged with various editions. Some translations were rough-and-ready; other editions contained incorrect information in Ian Fleming’s biography. Nevertheless, the reader was finally able to fully enjoy the James Bond novels, discovering him to be very different from the image drawn in the angry and slanted articles of the past.”
According to this article there is still work to be done in promoting the literary Bond in modern Russia as “the non-Fleming Bond novels are still out of favour with Russian publishers, except for Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun, and a couple of ‘books of movie’ by John Gardner and Raymond Benson.” (Extracts from ‘Behind Enemy Lines, The Russian Perspective,’ Vladislav Pavlov, ‘James Bond 007: Goldfinger’, Titan Books, London, 2004)
This study of the history of the banning, editing and censorship of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels has revealed the changing nature of these practices throughout the years. It is interesting to consider how what were probably Fleming’s two most controversial novels, LIVE AND LET DIE and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, suffered the most stringent censorship and banning. The modern reader can indeed be grateful that Fleming’s Bond novels can now be read freely in almost all countries unedited and uncensored, as the author initially intended. Ian Fleming, it seems, had the last triumph, and his free speech and independent thought, no matter how controversial and unpalatable it was initially deemed, prevailed in the end.
TBB Article No. 6
© Brian McKaig, 2007.