Nero Wolfe: a possible literary inspiration for Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

edited August 2012 in Literary 007 Posts: 97
I've been reading the Bond books since my early teens, but it's only in the last couple of years that I've started working my way through Rex Stout's wonderful Nero Wolfe series of crime novels. Narrated by his street-smart leg man, Archie Goodwin, these books are a brilliant marriage of American hard-boiled fiction and the English whodunnit mystery. Ian Fleming was also a fan and it's revealed in OHMSS that Bond likes them, and M... well, let's say he doesn't hate them! Anyway, something that has struck me as I've got to know the big, fat genius, Nero Wolfe, is that he shares some interesting similiarities with Bond's arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Both men are morbidly obese but were extremely active and fit in their youth (Blofeld was a weightlifter, Wolfe an adventurer). Both men then lost an incredible amount of weight to entirely change their appearances (in Wolfe's case, this was a temporary metamorphosis to defeat a criminal mastermind). And where Wolfe's highest form of praise to his employees is to utter the word 'Satisfactory', Blofeld's highest form of praise towards his underlings is 'I am satisfied'. Obviously, the two characters are vasty different in many ways, but I can't help but think Fleming consciously modelled Blofeld on Wolfe, and that the discussion of the Rex Stout novels in OHMSS is a subtle acknowledgment of this. Admittedly it would be going too far to describe Emilio Largo as Blofeld's equivalent of Archie Goodwin, but I was just wondering if anyone else has thought there's more than coincidence going on as far as the similiarities between the Montenegran sleuth and the Greco-Polish supervillain are concerned.


  • Posts: 63
    Very good observation. While I wouldn't go as far as calling Blofeld wildly obese in his debut (he distributes the weight favourably due to his former days as athlete) there is something restrained and controlled about him that reminds me indeed of Wolfe. Especially in Thunderball the character is described as powerful mainly for his mental strength and scheming. It's quite likely Wolfe here resonated in Fleming's work. Later he removed his villain somewhat from the controlled mind, made him less impressive in terms of his effect on Bond when he first meets him. But again there is the genial move to lose weight, how better to hide a fat man? This of course calls for discipline beyond the ordinary, quite the way Wolfe himself shows it for the same reason. Blofeld isn't seen a lot in OHMSS and by YOLT seems to have lost not just his gift of self-control but also the odd marble.
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