The Name's Bond





Just finished reading Bond Behind the Iron Curtain by Ian Fleming's nephew James Fleming -- a fascinating discursive book handsomely illustrated and published by The Book Collector (UK) -- which gathers, translates, analyzes and lovingly reproduces several major Soviet-era hit pieces in print on Bond published in Pravda, Izvestya and Novy Mir, no less -- all of them denouncing Bond as a typical Western sexist swine / capitalist stooge and thug in the service of British royalist and imperialist ambitions to overthrow glorious Mother Russia. 

The best one of these hit pieces published (almost at the same time as the film of From Russia With Love came out in 1963) is an extremely well-written attack in Izvestya by Jewish intellectual Maya Turovskaya, obviously on the KGB's payroll (Rosa Klebb's doppelgänger?) Now none of Ian Fleming's books had been published in Soviet Russia officially of course at that time (nowadays, they are available freely there in Russian translations).

In fact, both the books and films were banned in the Soviet Union for years. Pravda, the official newspaper of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, denounced them by saying:

"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."

From Russia With Love

But samizdat copies had been circulating for years in Russia -- as did prints of the early films -- and anyone lucky enough to travel out of the country was instantly made aware of the worldwide Bond-mania (way bigger than Beatlemania) exploding in the global culture, courtesy of hit screenings of the films in cinemas around the world, which reached its fullest efflorescence with the release of the movie Goldfinger in 1964, followed by 1965's Thunderball

Also in this little gem of a book is an attack on Bond by Karel Zeman (hard to believe that this is the celebrated Czech film director and animation pioneer of the same name -- but it well could be), published in Prague magazine MY in their March '67 issue -- as well as an amusing account of a 1989 attack on Bond in Polish communist journal Trybuna Ludu (People's Tribunal), just happening to coincide with the appearance of a bootleg translation of Moonraker in Polish aimed at the Polish market (no publishing royalties were paid to either Ian Fleming, or to the Polish communist government, apparently -- hence their attack).

In light of the current geopolitical situation, this book is a scintillating read and elucidation of the Soviet mindset, which seems to be back with us in full effect (unfortunately). 

Where is James Bond now when we really need him ???

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