Was James Bond just a "neo-fascist gangster?"

Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:53am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - James Bond is nothing but a gangster who would ply his trade for any country that offered him a steady supply of girls and dry Martinis, says writer John le Carré.

Agent 007 may be as popular as ever, but not with the creator of George Smiley.

Here is Le Carre on Bond in the 1960s: "I dislike Bond. I'm not sure that Bond is a spy. I think that it's a great mistake if one's talking about espionage literature to include Bond in this category at all," he said of rival novelist Ian Fleming's creation in a 1966 interview.

"It seems to me he's more some kind of international gangster with, as it is said, a license to kill... He's a man entirely out of the political context. It's of no interest to Bond who, for instance, is president of the United States or of the Union of Soviet Republics."

The interview will be shown again on television this week as part of BBC4's "In Their Own Words," which revisits archive footage of some of the biggest names in British literature.

But that was then and this is now.

"These days I would be much kinder," Le Carré told Radio Times magazine after watching a tape of the interview.

"I suppose we've lost sight of the books in favor of the film versions, haven't we?"

Fleming's novels and their film versions are heavy on violence and gadgetry, unlike Le Carré's work, which includes "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and "The Constant Gardener."   Continued...