Do you prefer the 50's or the 60's Fleming novels?

chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
in Literary 007 Posts: 16,358
The 50's were a creative time for Fleming, without that eye towards the definite sale of his work for film, IMO. So that's the period I prefer, Moonraker & Dr. No being my particular favourites.
That said, I really like Thunderball a great deal.

Thoughts?

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Comments

  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    Birdleson wrote: »
    MR is my favorite.
    I'd have to agree.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 5,131
    My favoutites are LALD, DN & FRWL. All 50's novels and far superior to the later entries.
  • sunsanvilsunsanvil Somewhere in Canada....somewhere.
    edited April 2015 Posts: 260
    I just finished another read through all of them and, interestingly, I like the short stories the best. Someone wrote a forward which suggested that at heart Flemming was a short story writer and struggled with "filling out" the longer books. Not to discount any of them, they are all good reads, but I think its a fairly astute observation.

    That said, if we are throwing out favorites, they are somewhat spread out for me. Dr.No, From Russia, OHMSS, Thunderball.
  • Posts: 2,483
    No real preference. Of the four classics (CR, MR, FRWL, OHMSS), three were from the 50s, but I'm also very partial to TB and YOLT, 60s novels.
  • Posts: 2,417
    Difficult one this. OHMSS is my favourite novel, with TMWTGG running second. But TB is one of the weakest, IMO, and YOLT has its moments but its not one of my favourites,

    Overall the 50's books are better as a whole, particularly MR and Dr.No, but my 2 favourites belong in the 60's....if that makes any sense?
  • Posts: 532
    TSWLM and the short stories I don't care for. Everything else works. With exception of TSWLM, TB through TMWTGG seems a continuous story arc.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,376
    It does old chap.

    I'd say the 50's are the best, but both Majesty's and YOLT are among my top three Fleming.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Enemy of the state
    Posts: 41,656
    Bond was more interesting in the 1960s, and the Blofeld saga is one great story.

    But I think Fleming s writing was better in the 1950s. Along with the debut novel, my favourite Bond books are FRWL, DN, GF. What a stretch! When reading a novel, I enjoy being surprised by a sentence, seeing an expression I would not have thought of myself. Fleming s language was just more exciting in the 50s, so that trumps it for me. And it is not like the stories were bad either, they were great.
  • Posts: 13,263
    I love both periods equally. The 50s may have been his more creative years, in terms of quantity of writing, but in the 60s he did truly original work, as Bond novels as well as spy novels. In a way, Fleming was the Beethoven of spy fiction.

    Oh and TSWLM is underrated.
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 10,492
    In a similar manner to the films I can't rank the books and would be hard pushed to say which is my most favourite/least favourite. Those I read most often would probably be MR, GF, OHMSS and DAF. I have a bit of an affinity for DAF as it was the first Fleming I read as a kid.

    Much like the films I think there is something in every single book that adds to the canon. I'm quite a fan of reading YOLT and TMWTGG back to back. I always secretly hoped the DC era would end this bleakly, but can't see them going down that route anymore.
  • SirHilaryBraySirHilaryBray Scotland
    Posts: 2,138
    OHMSS then YOLT best back to back read for me.
  • Posts: 2,483
    Ludovico wrote: »
    I love both periods equally. The 50s may have been his more creative years, in terms of quantity of writing, but in the 60s he did truly original work, as Bond novels as well as spy novels. In a way, Fleming was the Beethoven of spy fiction.

    Oh and TSWLM is underrated.

    Agreed entirely.

  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,770
    Ludovico wrote: »
    I love both periods equally. The 50s may have been his more creative years, in terms of quantity of writing, but in the 60s he did truly original work, as Bond novels as well as spy novels. In a way, Fleming was the Beethoven of spy fiction.

    Oh and TSWLM is underrated.

    Agreed entirely.

    Seconded.
  • Posts: 13,263
    I thought people would ask what I mean by Beethoven of spy fiction.

    But anyway, basically, Ian Fleming made the perfect genre novels in the 50s, he knew its tropes, its themes, its commonplaces and used them perfectly. In the 60s, he played with them and turned the genre on its head. YOLT is a novel about exoticism and a nightmarish journey to Hell and back for Bond. Bond does Dante, in a way. OHMSS is a rewrite of Dracula and also prophetic. TB may be the most conventional of his 60s novels, but even then he gives us the puritan Blofeld, the villain completely antithetic to the hero and he creates a trope that will be used in many novels and movies to come (okay, so this was disputed, but nevertheless Blofeld is 100% Fleming). And the chapters set in Shrublands are absolutely daring: you put your action hero in the most mundane, unexotic setting, then you have him play a game of cat and mouse against an adversary with whom Bond has to remain on speaking term, hiding both his and his enemies' true nature. TSWLM shows us the adventure of a Bond girl where Bond is a secondary character and is also a neat hardboiled crime novel in its own right. True brilliance.
  • CJBCJB
    Posts: 3
    I enjoy the Fleming offerings fairly consistently, but I'd give the edge to the 50's. There's something, dare I say, grittier about them. The novels were never really about hyper-realistic portrayals of espionage, but the 60's adventures really turned the pulp factor up to 11. They were good, but certainly different to lower-key, tighter books such as Casino Royale.
  • Posts: 4,622
    I look at the books as one big Fleming whole

    It's impossible for me to rank them.
    Originally I read them willy nilly as I managed to get my adolescent paws on them
    But if I must, I think my favorites are the '50s books when all was new and fresh.
    LALD is probably my favorite. Here Fleming introduces the much loved Bond-on-mission format.
    FRWL DN rank 2 and 3 I guess.
    Domino is my favourite book Bond Girl, and I find Fleming and Bond to be at their humorous glib best in GF and YOLT.

  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Still waiting for the Jena Malone Batwoman movie that's never going to be made.Moderator
    Posts: 11,973
    My top 5 Bond books, which happen to be all Fleming:

    01. Moonraker - Ian Fleming (1955)
    02. On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Ian Fleming (1963)
    03. From Russia With Love - Ian Fleming (1957)
    04. You Only Live Twice - Ian Fleming (1964)
    05. Casino Royale - Ian Fleming (1953)

    3 from the 50's vs 2 from the 60's.
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,453
    I have always been a Bond film chappie and haven't read the books since I was a teenager. For some reason it came over me to re-read them. I'm half way through Goldfinger (no idea why I started with this one), and thoroughly enjoying it. When I'm done I will really start contributing to the Literary 007 threads.
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    timmer wrote: »
    I look at the books as one big Fleming whole

    It's impossible for me to rank them.
    Originally I read them willy nilly as I managed to get my adolescent paws on them
    But if I must, I think my favorites are the '50s books when all was new and fresh.
    LALD is probably my favorite. Here Fleming introduces the much loved Bond-on-mission format.
    FRWL DN rank 2 and 3 I guess.
    Domino is my favourite book Bond Girl, and I find Fleming and Bond to be at their humorous glib best in GF and YOLT.

    I've been listening to LALD on audiobook read by Rory Kinnear. It's a cracker with more depth than some give credit for. Kinnear does a good Bond but struggles with American accents apart from, inexplicably, Harlem patois; the most challenging part of any in the books.

    M briefing a classic too.
  • 007InVT007InVT Classified
    Posts: 893
    OHMSS then YOLT best back to back read for me.

    A good double header for sure.
  • Posts: 4,622
    Re LALD I particularly liked Bond and Leiter's visit to see Big in Harlem. Bond engages some nasty work getting out of there. He actually kills Tee Hee. Robber becomes kind of secondary villain later.
    The movie kind of riffed on Bond's visit and of course elevated Tee Hee's status.
    I like the way the film just kind of homaged the book, borrowing bits here and there, following the basic narrative, but creating a new story around the characters and general scenario.
  • Posts: 13,263
    LALD is maybe the first Bond adventure. CR was a spy thriller with little action. Almost a one/off that could have ended with no follow-ups.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,770
    Ludovico wrote: »
    LALD is maybe the first Bond adventure. CR was a spy thriller with little action. Almost a one/off that could have ended with no follow-ups.

    Fleming wrote his second novel in advance of the publication of Casino Royale too, so that if the reviews were bad he would not be disheartened enough not to write a second Bond novel.
  • Posts: 13,263
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Ludovico wrote: »
    LALD is maybe the first Bond adventure. CR was a spy thriller with little action. Almost a one/off that could have ended with no follow-ups.

    Fleming wrote his second novel in advance of the publication of Casino Royale too, so that if the reviews were bad he would not be disheartened enough not to write a second Bond novel.

    There goes my hypothesis. But I find the two novels so different, in tone and rythm.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 19,795
    I find it difficult to answer since the weaker novels are, IMO, the middle ones and I really should say 'novel' because I'm primarily thinking about GF. I really love all the rest, including TSWLM and TMWTGG.
  • Posts: 686
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    I find it difficult to answer since the weaker novels are, IMO, the middle ones and I really should say 'novel' because I'm primarily thinking about GF. I really love all the rest, including TSWLM and TMWTGG.

    I think the strains started to a show on IF with the last few novels, therefore I thought a more philosophical and personal element was added to TSWLM through TMWTGG.
  • Posts: 13,263
    I absolutely love the last few novels, when he turned the genre on its head. TMWTGG may not have been as good because it was not polished due to his untimely death, but there is still a lot of good stuff in it.
  • Ludovico wrote: »
    I thought people would ask what I mean by Beethoven of spy fiction.

    But anyway, basically, Ian Fleming made the perfect genre novels in the 50s, he knew its tropes, its themes, its commonplaces and used them perfectly. In the 60s, he played with them and turned the genre on its head. YOLT is a novel about exoticism and a nightmarish journey to Hell and back for Bond. Bond does Dante, in a way. OHMSS is a rewrite of Dracula and also prophetic. TB may be the most conventional of his 60s novels, but even then he gives us the puritan Blofeld, the villain completely antithetic to the hero and he creates a trope that will be used in many novels and movies to come (okay, so this was disputed, but nevertheless Blofeld is 100% Fleming). And the chapters set in Shrublands are absolutely daring: you put your action hero in the most mundane, unexotic setting, then you have him play a game of cat and mouse against an adversary with whom Bond has to remain on speaking term, hiding both his and his enemies' true nature. TSWLM shows us the adventure of a Bond girl where Bond is a secondary character and is also a neat hardboiled crime novel in its own right. True brilliance.

    I couldn't agree more with this synopsis - eloquently put and describes Fleming's evolution perfectly.

  • edited June 2017 Posts: 170
    delete
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 19,795
    Does that include OHMSS, @Robertson?
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