Monday, March 17, 2008

Musings on the James Bond Novels

As of today I completed my collection of the original James Bond novels. Over the last few years at book sales I've picked up a few copies of the paperbacks published by Pan in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I decided to see if I could complete my collection of the original 14 books, and thanks to ebay I received the last one (which was actually shipped to me from England).

Most people under about age 40 probably think of James Bond as a series of films and maybe only dimly realize they were based on books. In fact, in the late 1950s and 1960's the books were extremely popular. If you look at the printing history of some of the paperback versions you can get some idea of just how quickly the books must have been selling, sometimes with a new printing on a monthly basis.

The Pan books series were a typical paperback issue, selling in the US and Canada for 60 cents. Untold millions of copies were sold, and translated into many languages.

From 1953 to 1966 Ian Fleming wrote one Bond novel every year while he was on vacation in Jamaica at his estate Goldeneye.

Are the movies similar to the books? That depends on the film. The most faithful film version is probably On Her Majesty's Secret Service which was just about as close to the novel as possible.

Some films like The Man with the Golden Gun are very different from the novel.

And "The Spy Who Loved Me" has nothing in common between the book and film except the title.

All in all I think they hold up well when you take into account the time at which they were written.

I think they make great escapism, and I find them just the thing to read on a business trip when stuck in an airport or hotel with nothing to do for a few hours.

So now the question I'm pondering is, do I read the last remaining book now or save it for my next business trip?

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