Ian Fleming's 'Seven Deadlier Sins'

007InVT007InVT Classified
edited April 2015 in Literary 007 Posts: 893
Hello literary community!

I am writing an article and wondered if anyone would like to get a mention by offering their thoughts on this topic? Call it crowd-sourcing and feel free to go by a nom de plume or by real name.

Ian Fleming wrote the foreword to the book The Seven Deadly Sins - published in 1962 and containing essays by some of England’s finest writers on their sin of choice including his friends Patrick Leigh-Fermor, W.H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh, Edith Sitwell and Cyrill Connolly, but declared that the traditional seven deadly sins (pride, envy, anger, sloth [accidie], covetousness, gluttony and lust) were no longer sufficient; he proposed seven deadlier sins more worthy of a ticket to Hell.

In chatting with @Revelator, clearly all of these are manifest in a variety of Fleming's characters (is Bond guilty too?):

Avarice: Goldfinger cheating for money at canasta and golf plus his gold lust, Drax cheating at cards, Blofeld trying to bribe "Bray," Le Chiffre buying up brothels to use their girls, Von Hammerstein killing the Havelocks to get their house

Cruelty: Le Chiffre's torture of Bond, Largo's torture of Domino, Dr, No's torture course, Masters's revenge on his wife in QoS, Krest beating his wife in THR, Wint and Kidd in DAF

Snobbery: Blofeld in OHMSS of course, Vivienne Michel and Drax both complain about English snobbery, the menu in TB,

Self-Righteousness: Goldfinger's rants about smoking and drinking, Dr. No's monologue, Blofeld's self-justification in YOLT, M's healthy phase in TB, Sender in TLD

Hypocrisy: We drew a blank, but perhaps the Russian statements in FRWL and TMWTGG, maybe Bond bombing the Cuban rebels in QoS, Kristatos in Risico?

Moral Cowardice: Vesper's betrayal?, Bond not helping Krest's wife in THR, Smythe in OP

Malice: M toward Bond in DN, Spang slapping the salon girl and wanting her fired in DAF, the Robber in LALD, Grant's anti-British attitude in FRWL, Drax's hatred of the English

Any thoughts very welcome with reciprocal credit due.
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Comments

  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
    Posts: 3,675
    That is actually very interesting and it is something that I think goes under the radar a lot of the time. It's only when one takes a closer look at the text and reads between the lines that we realize the true genius of Ian Fleming and how he seemed to put things in his novels for a purpose, but intentionally hid them just beneath the surface.
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,535
    Where is the original text? Thanks!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Very interesting, it's something I'd never even noticed before.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    Great stuff, @007InVT! I'd never heard of this book or that Fleming did the forward for its 62' edition, but boy is this fascinating. His picks are very strong and do lend a lot to the faults found in the human condition, which he embodied in many of his characters. They are still "sins" we are battling today.
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    Glad you like it!

    Fleming essentially felt that the original sins - dreamed up by monks for monks - were rather par for the course. Far more insidious were his deadlier versions, save perhaps for sloth/accidie, which he and his generation seemed to be in a lifelong struggle with.

    The world would be boring were it not for a few sins within limits of course.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    A very good list and a very interesting topic as always, @007InVT.

    I have heard of Fleming's intro to this book but sadly I've never read it. I think that I did look at buying a copy on Amazon some years ago but either it was not on there or the price was prohibitive.

    Under cruelty one might add Ernst Stavro Blofeld's Garden of Death and the scenes where the guards laugh until they are crying at an unfortunate suicide victim. I think Blofeld's poison garden is a monument to man's inhumanity to man.

    Apart from that, I can think of nothing else currently that could be added to your excellent list.

    D.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    007InVT wrote: »
    Glad you like it!

    Fleming essentially felt that the original sins - dreamed up by monks for monks - were rather par for the course. Far more insidious were his deadlier versions, save perhaps for sloth/accidie, which he and his generation seemed to be in a lifelong struggle with.

    The world would be boring were it not for a few sins within limits of course.

    I find Fleming's word choices to be more fitting than the originals as well: horrible sounding words to match the horrible acts or traits. Instead of greed, Fleming uses avarice. Instead of ill will, malice. Instead of superiority, snobbery. Each of his picks sound awash in filth when we say them out loud, almost as if the words tell us themselves that they are bad habits to carry.
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    Great input; any quotes used - and they will - will be credited to you handle here.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    Are you doing a paper of some kind, @007InVT?
  • Posts: 2,879
    ggl007 wrote: »
    Where is the original text? Thanks!

    If I find free time, I'll scan and post Fleming's foreword, but for now you can easily find The Seven Deadly Sins book in online bookshops or even at local libraries, since it has been reprinted several times.
    Are you doing a paper of some kind, @007InVT?

    I suggested to 007InVT that he run a seven part series on his website about Fleming's Seven Deadlier Sins. This would consist of listing examples of each sin (Avarice, Cruelty, Snobbery, Self-Righteousness, Hypocrisy, Moral Cowardice, and Malice) in the Bond books. He and i have already devised a list of examples--seen at the start of the thread--but we know there are more. So we'd like to pick the brains of the folks on this forum, because we know many of you know Fleming just as well if not better than us.
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,535
    Revelator wrote: »
    ggl007 wrote: »
    Where is the original text? Thanks!

    If I find free time, I'll scan and post Fleming's foreword, but for now you can easily find The Seven Deadly Sins book in online bookshops or even at local libraries, since it has been reprinted several times.

    That would be great!
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    edited April 2015 Posts: 28,694
    Revelator wrote: »
    ggl007 wrote: »
    Where is the original text? Thanks!

    If I find free time, I'll scan and post Fleming's foreword, but for now you can easily find The Seven Deadly Sins book in online bookshops or even at local libraries, since it has been reprinted several times.
    Are you doing a paper of some kind, @007InVT?

    I suggested to 007InVT that he run a seven part series on his website about Fleming's Seven Deadlier Sins. This would consist of listing examples of each sin (Avarice, Cruelty, Snobbery, Self-Righteousness, Hypocrisy, Moral Cowardice, and Malice) in the Bond books. He and i have already devised a list of examples--seen at the start of the thread--but we know there are more. So we'd like to pick the brains of the folks on this forum, because we know many of you know Fleming just as well if not better than us.

    Fascinating. I wish I could be of more assistance with your quest, but I have only read a few of the Fleming novels.

    To contribute something, a brilliant act of cruelty imprinted on my mind is how Mr. Big decides to dispose of Bond and Solitaire in LALD. Quite brutal indeed.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    I really must track down a copy of this book.
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    Thanks for the input so far - this is going into a blog post, which I will post on this thread once published.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    Goldfinger - I suppose painting Jill Masterton with gold paint was a rather cruel way in which to kill someone too.
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    edited April 2015 Posts: 893
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Goldfinger - I suppose painting Jill Masterton with gold paint was a rather cruel way in which to kill someone too.

    Great example.

  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    007InVT wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Goldfinger - I suppose painting Jill Masterton with gold paint was a rather cruel way in which to kill someone too.

    Great example.

    Thank you. I'll see if I can think of any more. I love the work you and your contributors do on your excellent blog.
  • Posts: 2,879
    As promised, here's Fleming's introduction:
    Foreword
    by Ian Fleming

    I have various qualifications for writing an introduction to this series of distinguished and highly entertaining essays.

    First of all, I invented the idea of the series when, a couple of years ago, I was still a member of the Editorial Board of the London Sunday Times. This Board meets every Tuesday to comment on the issue of the previous Sunday, discuss the plans for the next issue and put forward longer-term projects.

    It is quite a small Board of seven or eight heads of departments—I was Foreign Manager at the time—together with the Editor and the Proprietor, Mr Roy Thomson, and we are all good friends, though at this weekly meeting, beneath the surface of our friendliness, lurk all the deadly sins with the exception of gluttony and lust. Each one of us has pride in our department of the paper; many of us are covetous of the editorial chair; most are envious of the bright ideas put forward by others; anger comes to the surface at what we regard as unmerited criticism, and sloth, certainly in my case, lurks in the wings.

    The same pattern is probably followed at all executive meetings in all branches of business. When someone else puts up a bright idea, however useful or profitable it may be to the business concerned, traces at least of Envy, Anger and Covetousness will be roused in his colleagues. Yet, on the occasion when I put forward this particular ‘bright’ idea for the future, I seem to remember nothing but approbation and a genial nodding of heads.

    The project was outside my own sphere of action on the paper and I heard nothing more of it until I had left the Sunday Times to concentrate on writing thrillers centered round a member of the British Secret Service called James Bond. So I cannot describe what troubles the Literary Editor ran into in his endeavours to marry the Seven Deadly Sins to seven appropriate authors. So far as I can recall, the marriages I myself had suggested were closely followed, except that I had suggested Mr Malcolm Muggeridge to write on the theme of Anger on the grounds that he is such an extremely angry man. In the event, as you will see, Mr W.H. Auden was the brilliant choice.

    My next claim to introduce these essays was my suggestion to Mr Lawrence Hughes, a friend of mine and a Director of William Morrow & Co., that he should publish them in a book. Usually when one makes brilliant suggestions to a publisher, a dull glaze comes-over his eyes and nothing happens. But in this case Larry Hughes was enthusiastic and, despite all kinds of copyright problems, energetically pursued my suggestion and gathered these seven famous English authors together between hard covers—no mean feat if you know anything about copyright and literary agents.

    So you might think I could justifiably allow myself a modest indulgence in the deadly sin of Pride. You would be mistaken. I have read and re-read these essays with pleasure and profit, but their moral impact upon me has been uncomfortable. To be precise and truthful, the critical examination of these famous sins by some of the keenest brains of today has led me to the dreadful conclusion that in fact all these ancient sins, compared with the sins of today, are in fact very close to virtues.

    To run through the list. I have always admired the Pride of Dame Edith Sitwell, the pride which, with her proudful brothers, has carried this remarkable literary family through battles of opinion and taste reaching back to my youth.

    The Covetousness of Cyril Connolly, which he takes off so brilliantly in his piece of fiction, is one of his most endearing qualities and he would be a smaller and less interesting man without it.

    The Gluttony for life, food, drink and women of Patrick Leigh-Fermor are the essence of his tremendous zest for everything. Lust? If Christopher Sykes is lustful, may he, and I for the matter of that, long remain so.

    Envy has its ugly sides, but if I, as a second son amongst four, had not been envious of my older brother and his achievements I would not have wished all my life to try and emulate him. As for Anger, surely we all need more rather than less of it to combat the indifference, the ‘I'm all right, Jack’ attitudes, of today.

    Of all the seven, only Sloth in its extreme form of accidia, which is a form of spiritual suicide and a refusal of joy, so brilliantly examined by Evelyn Waugh, has my wholehearted condemnation, perhaps because in moments of despair I have seen its face.

    How drab and empty life would be without these sins, and what dull dogs we all would be without a healthy trace of many of them in our make up! And has not the depiction of these sins and their consequences been the yeast in most great fiction and drama? Could Shakespeare, Voltaire, Balzac, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy have written their masterpieces if humanity had been innocent of these sins? It is almost as if Leonardo, Titian, Rembrandt and Van Gogh had been required to paint without using the primary colours.

    The truth, of course, is that generally speaking these Seven Deadly Sins were enumerated by monks for monks, and one can easily see how mischievous and harmful they could be within a monastery.

    We do not live in a monastery, but in a great pulsating ant heap, and this brings me back to the moral confusion into which I have been thrown by these essays and which amounts to feeling that there are other and deadlier sins which I would like to see examined by authors of equal calibre in a companion volume to this.

    I have made a list of these Seven Deadlier Sins which every reader will no doubt wish to amend, and these are my seven: Avarice, Cruelty, Snobbery, Hypocrisy, Self-righteousness, Moral Cowardice and Malice. If I were to put these modern seven into the scales against the ancient seven I cannot but feel that the weight of the former would bring the brass tray crashing down.

    But is this loose thinking? Could it perhaps be argued that if we are free of the ancient seven we shall not fall victim to their modern progeny? I personally do not think so, but it would need better brains than mine and a keener sense of theological morality than I possess to pursue the argument. As a man in the street, I can only express my belief that being possessed of the ancient seven deadly sins one can still go to heaven, whereas to be afflicted by the modern variations can only be a passport to hell.

    And by the same token, what about the Seven Deadly Virtues?

    What about the anal-eroticism which the psychologists tell us lies at the base of Frugality? How much is Charity worth when it springs from self-interest? Is political acumen a virtue as practised by the Communists? What hell Sociability can be! Where is the line to be drawn between Deference and, not to use a more vulgar, hyphenated word, Sycophancy? Neatness in excess becomes pathological, so does Cleanliness. How often is Chastity a cloak for frigidity?

    But I have held you for too long from these wonderful, and each in its different way exciting, essays and I must at all costs avoid that deadliest of all sins, ancient or modern, a sin which is surely more durable than any of those I have enumerated—that of being a Bore.

    Fleming would have regretted Muggeridge's replacement even less had he known Muggeridge would attack him after his death. Anyway, in return for my sharing this I hope fellow board members can volunteer some more examples of Fleming's 7 Deadlier Sins, as found in the Bond books.
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,535
    Thanks, @Revelator!

    A few examples:
    Horror and Sluggsy in TSWLM: Avarice and Cruelty;
    The Governor in QOS: Snobbery;
    Capt. Sender in TLD: Hipocrisy;
    ...
  • edited April 2015 Posts: 2,879
    Thank you ggl007! All stimulating examples. Horror and Sluggsy are definitely monstrous examples of cruelty. And I get the impression that Fleming found lots of snobbery in the British officialdom of the West Indies. Sender is course a monumental prig, and perhaps even the worst type of sinner: a bore.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    "How drab and empty life would be without these sins, and what dull dogs we all would be without a healthy trace of many of them in our make up! And has not the depiction of these sins and their consequences been the yeast in most great fiction and drama? Could Shakespeare, Voltaire, Balzac, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy have written their masterpieces if humanity had been innocent of these sins? It is almost as if Leonardo, Titian, Rembrandt and Van Gogh had been required to paint without using the primary colours."

    Perfect, and only as Ian could say it. In many ways, just as he said, these "sins" aren't acts worthy of punitive measure, but instead elements that make us human and that inspire us to improve ourselves and the world around us. After all, if we didn't exhibit anger, how would we rise up vehemently against tyranny to change our state? Without it, we would be manipulated and left silenced. If we were without envy, how would we know what in us is lacking, and what is worth embodying after seeing its greatness in others? Truly a profound passage, this, and yet another reason why I am bemused as to why Fleming's name isn't listed amongst the greatest in all of literature.
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    edited April 2015 Posts: 893
    Blimey Brady, you're a poet man. That's going in!
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    ggl007 wrote: »
    Thanks, @Revelator!

    A few examples:
    Horror and Sluggsy in TSWLM: Avarice and Cruelty;
    The Governor in QOS: Snobbery;
    Capt. Sender in TLD: Hipocrisy;
    ...

    You could add their boss Mr Sanguinetti to that too. :)
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    Well @Revelator, I think that's our lot.

    Thanks to everyone that provided their thoughts. You will all be credited and will post links as this series of posts gets published!
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    edited April 2015 Posts: 7,517
    It would be fun to get a bunch of (aspiring) writers from this community together to each write a story corresponding with one of Ian's "modern" Seven Sins, in the same spirit as Ian's original idea for a book. Could be a cool tribute to Ian from the community.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    It would be fun to get a bunch of (aspiring) writers from this community together to each write a story corresponding with one of Ian's "modern" Seven Sins, in the same spirit as Ian's original idea for a book. Could be a cool tribute to Ian from the community.

    Like a Bond pastiche kind of story you mean? I'd be interested in that for sure.
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 7,517
    I wouldn't even say it had to be Bond-related at all, really- of course it could be if a person wanted to do it that way. Wonder how many people would be into it
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    edited April 2015 Posts: 28,694
    I wouldn't even say it had to be Bond-related at all, really- of course it could be if a person wanted to do it that way. Wonder how many people would be into it

    I think it'd be cool if we each wrote a small story with Bond in it that thematically symbolizes a particular sin outlined by Fleming to connect it to the man and his mythos. We could either ape his syntax or go with our own individual writing styles too. Both options would be interesting to pursue, especially the latter.
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 7,517
    That would be cool, I agree. Maybe we could make a new thread, gauge interest from any would-be authors on the forum?
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    Ann Boyd comments on the hypocrisy of Drax and Jack Spang, quite well in her book 'The Devil with James Bond'.
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