Deep Thoughts…by James Bond

Bond and Vesper have arrived at their reward…a getaway for a week together at a lonely seaside inn. Bond is eager to start his “fun” with Vesper, embracing and kissing her passionately as soon as they walk into their room. At first, she responds, but then ends up pushing him away, and Bond apologizes, and they sit on the bed, staring at each other hungrily.

She leant over and kissed him on the corner of the mouth, then she brushed the black comma of hair back from his damp forehead.
‘My darling.’ she said. Give me a cigarette. I don’t know where my bag is.’
She looked vaguely around the room.
Bond lit one for her and put it between her lips. She took a deep lungful of smoke and let it pour out through her mouth with a slow sigh.
Bond put his arm round her, but she got up and walked over to the window.
She stood there with her back to him.

Bond makes another effort to get close to her, and she tells him “not now”. He believes she is crying, but isn’t sure. He takes the hint and goes out to the beach for a swim. On the way we learn another tidbit about his personal habits. He had always slept nude until the end of the war when he came across “the perfect compromise” – a pyjama-coat. This article of clothing will be mentioned again in future adventures. While he is walking to the beach, he passes under their window, and doesn’t look up to see if she is still standing there. Given her strange behavior just a few minutes ago, as well as earlier this afternoon, while they were driving out, (from the previous chapter), you would figure Bond might catch on that something was up. He doesn’t seem to. At this point, Fleming clearly doesn’t know what to do with Bond. Did he envision a series of Bond adventures? Was he thinking that this was a one book character? Should he marry off Bond, which would essentially end his secret agent career, or should he keep him free?

Bond takes a long swim about a mile down the beach, and then dries off by lying in the sun. He’s thinking about Vesper. He admits to himself that he is confused about his feelings, and doesn’t like it. At the beginning, he figured he could just have this week with her, maybe see her a couple times back in England, and then have the “inevitable disengagement”. But he realizes that she has snuck up on him, and he has deeper feelings for her. He enjoys her “easy and unexacting” companionship. He does recognize that there is a part of her from which is, and always will be, shut out. He also reflects on what she’d be like in bed. Keep in mind, he has not slept with her yet. (What, we’re almost at the end of the book, and Bond hasn’t slept with a woman yet? This isn’t the movies…) While he’s thinking about her in bed, there are some rather disturbing thoughts coming across this mind.

If you’re offended easily, you might wish to skip this passage. It’s not politically correct, not now or then.

And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape. Loving her physically would each time be a thrilling voyage without the anticlimax of arrival. She would surrender herself avidly, he thought, and greedily enjoy all the intimacies of the bed without over allowing herself to be possessed.

Wow. “sweet tang of rape”? What type of statement is that? It’s very offensive now, but consider it in the context of 1953. I’m surprised it made it past the editor. The roles of men and women then were obviously different then they were now. Men were more dominant. It doesn’t explain the passage, but I’m sure there is an explanation other than the fact that Fleming was a sexist pig. That’s putting it mildly.

After thinking about all of this, Bond heads back to the hotel. However, the chapter ends with an intriguing line:

“At that moment his mind was mind up.”

Tender Loving Care

The day after the talk with Mathis, Bond decides that he wants to finally see Vesper. He had been putting it off, even though she had been persistently inquiring of him, even sending him flowers, which Bond asked the nurse to take to other patients. He doesn’t want the sympathy, the insinuation of weakness that come with flowers in the hospital. He is also worried about having to question Vesper about her actions in the case, he knows she could be in danger of losing her job. Most of all, Bond is worried about his injuries and their affect on his “abilities”.

The Doctor has assured him that no permanent damage was done, that Bond will recover fully, but he holds of on seeing Vesper, just in case. He finally agrees to let her in, and she looks terrific. She’s described as wearing a “cream tussore frock with a black belt.” That’s a fairly tight fitted dress with a square cut front cleavage. Bond expected her to “look pale and even ill”, but she has instead been bathing at the beach each day and is bronzed and beautiful. After she tells him about her days, Bond makes a cold remark about his injuries, a remark which causes Vesper to cry and blame herself…the type of scene that Bond despises. However, the tears have an affect on him.

Bond looked at her tenderly. Like all harsh, cold men, he was easily tipped over into sentiment. She was very beautiful and he felt warm towards her. He decided to make his questions as easy as possible.

Bond is going to let her off the hook for her performance on the job. They go over the events of the night of their capture, how she was lured outside and kidnapped, how she was not touched or messed about while being held captive. Back at the villa, she was simply tied in a chair, passed out. She does recall a horrible scream, and Bond says it must’ve have been him. She cries again. Again, Bond responds kindly, comforting her, telling her “anyone could have fallen for that note” when he knows better, and trying to cheer her up. It again causes a reaction. She says she’ll try to make it up to him somehow.

Somehow? Thought Bond to himself. He looked at her. She was smiling at him. He smiled back.
‘You’d better look out,’ he said. ‘I may hold you to that.’
She looked into his eyes and said nothing, but the enigmatic challenge was back. She pressed his hand and rose. ‘A promise is a promise,’ she said.
This time they both knew what the promise was.

The chapter ends with that expectation of more.

Bond makes a rapid recovery. He makes out his report, making the kidnapping of Vesper “sound much more Machiavellian than it had been.” (Machiavellian has a meaning of cunning, deceptive, deceitful) It appears he is developing serious feelings for Vesper. He runs through the usual pattern of relationships in his life, which inevitably seem to end with a “final angry farewell on some doorstep in the rain.” He shuns these mise en scene (setting in scene) for each of these acts in the play. This isn’t going to happen with Vesper. He observes that “In their talk there was nothing but companionship with a distant undertone of passion.” As the days go by, Bond is given more and more freedom from the hospital until the day comes when the Doctor releases him.

It’s been three weeks to the day since his brutal beating, and it is now July. Bond and Vesper head out for a week together at a surprise destination that she has picked out. On the way they check out the location at which Bond’s car crashed on the shore road, and then continue on. But then,”Their drive was spoiled by a curious incident”. Vesper suddenly fears they are being followed. There is a car behind them, but Bond doesn’t take the idea all that seriously. However, he does agree to allow them to pull the car over and let the other driver past. They pull behind a hedge, over which is a brightly painted sign that says “L’Auberge de Fruit Defendu, crustaces, fritures”. (The Inn of the Forbidden Fruit, seafood, fried fish” The sign appears to catch the eye of the drive, but Vesper is convinced that he was looking directly at them. Finally Bond calms her down, and they head on to their destination. They meet the proprietor and his wife, who promise to take the best possible care of them. They would be having broiled lobsters with melted butter for dinner. Bond is looking forward to spending a week by the seaside in this inn with Vesper. It seems happy times are ahead.

Villains and Heroes

While James Bond’s body recovers from his brutal torture, his mind is sharp and at work in the next chapter of Casino Royale. Mathis is in his room, and they’re talking about Bond’s rescuer, and how he managed to cross the iron curtain and get into France. Then they discuss the mark that the killer left on Bond. It has the appearance of “a square M with a tail to the top”. Bond explains:

Well, I only got a glimpse before I passed out, but I’ve seen the cuts several times while they were being dressed and I’m pretty certain they are the Russian letter for SH. It’s rather like an inverted M with a tail. That would make sense; SMERSH is short for SMYERT SHPIONAM – Death to Spies – and he thinks he’s labelled me as a SHPION.

Bond next drops a bombshell. He declares that he intends to resign once he gets back to London. He explains that he likes being alive, and Le Chiffre’s phrase about “playing Red Indians” has stuck in his head. He says that as you get older, it’s more difficult to pick out the villains and heroes. He outlines the two times that he has had to kill in the line of duty to this point of his career. The first time took place on the 40th floor of the RCA building in Rockefeller Center. (pictured to the right) Bond was part of a two man team that killed a Japanese cipher expert. They got a room across the street from the building, and the first man shot a hole in the thick glass of the RCA building, and Bond shot through that hole, killing the cipher expert. The second time wasn’t so clean, Bond killed a Norwegian double agent with a knife, and adds that the man “didn’t die very quickly”. These are glimpses into Bond that help us define the character. Because of these missions, he is awarded a Double O number by the Secret Service.

Bond starts talking about how the villains and heroes are mixed up. Is Bond a hero or a villain? What about Le Chiffre? He goes on a bit of a modern sounding rant.

‘Of course,’ he added, as Mathis started to expostulate, ‘patriotism comes along and makes it seem fairly all right, but this country-right-or-wrong business is getting a little out-of-date. Today we are fighting Communism. Okay. If I’d been alive fifty years ago, the brand of Conservatism we have today would have been damn near called Communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts.’

As I said, this is very modern from Ian Fleming. A full 15 years before Vietnam, and Bond, or more accurately, Fleming is saying that this “country-right-or-wrong business is getting a little out-of-date”. He’s got Bond questioning his country before even the hippies were challenging Vietnam in the late 1960’s. After this Mathis jokingly wonders if Le Chiffre had been battering his “head instead of” his …’

After a few minutes Mathis has a reply of his own, noting that “Englishmen are so odd.” He compares them to a nest of Chinese boxes. He indulges Bond and asks him to continue, joking that “There may be something I can use to my own chief the next time I want to get out of an unpleasant job.” Bond goes on further to show sympathy for the Devil in relation to God. He says he likes to be on the side of the underdog, which he paints the Devil as, noting there is no book of evil, no ten commandments of evil, “no team of authors to write his biography.” He then connects Le Chiffre to the situation by asserting that the Russian served the noble purpose of “creating a norm of badness by which, and by which alone, an opposite norm of goodness could exist.”

The conversation goes back and forth for the rest of the chapter, with Mathis mostly laughing at Bond, knowing that he will not actually resign. He knows that Bond will continue to hunt the evil men of the world, to protect himself and he people he loves. He tells Bond:

‘Surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles.’
He laughed. ‘But don\’t let me down and become human yourself. We would lose such a wonderful machine’

And with that, before Bond can reply, he is out the door.

Note: This report indicates that the upcoming movie Casino Royale will be an “updated but faithful” adaptation of the Ian Fleming novel that is being reviewed on this very site.

Recovery Begins

You are about to awake when you dream that you are dreaming.

This is a phrase that has been stuck in my head for many years. Now, re-reading Casino Royale, I am reminded once again that this is where I came across that theory. I wonder if it is true, or what cause Fleming to make this observation.

Bond is unconscious as the chapter begins, and has been so for about two days. He finally comes to, and the first sight he sees, is of course a beautiful woman. A nurse who, along with another has been brought in from England to look after him.

Soon thereafter, the Doctor and Mathis make an appearance in the room. The Doctor explains what happened, and Fleming uses this vehicle to fill us in on exactly what happened to bring about Bond\’s rescue from the torture. The Doctor asks Bond how long he was maltreated.

‘About an hour,’ said Bond
‘Then it is remarkable that you are alive and a congratulate you. Few men could have supported what you have been through. Perhaps that is some consolation. As Monsieur Mathis can tell you, I have had in my time to treat a number of patients who have suffered similar handling and not one has come through it as you have done.’

The Doctor leaves the room, and Mathis reveals that M has called him personally to relay to Bond that he is “much impressed”. This warms Bond, as he knows it is very unlike M to make a communication of this sort, as most people do not even know that M exists. The message is also given that Vesper’s boss, the Head of S has given her strict instructions to look after Bond.

Mathis then conducts a mini de-briefing of Bond, attempting to find out a few things, like who killed Le Chiffre. He also wishes to know where Bond hid the cheque in his room. They’ve searched the room, and it isn’t there.

‘It is.’ he said, ‘more or less. On the door of each room there is a small square of black plastic with the number of the room on it. One the corridor side, of course. When Leiter left me that night, I simply opened the door and unscrewed my number plate and put the folded cheque underneath it and screwed the plate back. It’ll still be there.’ He smiled. ‘I’m glad there’s something the stupid English can teach the clever French.’

Soon after this, Bond is exhausted and Mathis is hustled out of the room. Bond falls into a “troubled” sleep thinking of Vesper.


We last left poor James in the brutally capable hands of Le Chiffre, where apparently he was apparently about to find himself castrated. Bond has been reminded that there is no one to rescue him, no way for him to escape from his present predicament.

With Bond on the edge of consciousness, there suddenly is a dramatic change in circumstances. He hears a third voice in the room. The voice uses a modicum of words. “Shtop” it says quietly. Then “Dhrop it”. The knife falls from Le Chiffre’s grip, and he knows exactly who is speaking to him.


The word came almost with a sigh. It came with a downward cadence as if nothing else had to be said. It was the final explanation. The last word of all.

Yes, Le Chiffre’s employers have caught up with him at last. Bond struggles to remain conscious, he cannot see the third voice, only the bulging, sweating face of his torturer. After an abrupt trial — “Do you plead guilty” — “Yes”, there is a “sharp phut” and Le Chiffre is dead.

The hooded assassin steps behind Bond and speaks:

‘You are fortunate,’ said the voice. ‘I have no orders to kill you. Your life has been saved twice in one day. But you can tell your organization that SMERSH is only merciful by chance or by mistake. In your case you were saved first by chance and now by mistake, for I should have had orders to kill any foreign spies who were hanging round this traitor like flies round a dog’s mess.

Instead of killing Bond, the killer instead brands the back of Bond’s hand with an inverted ‘M’ – to mark him as a spy should he happen to be at a card table with a member of SMERSH in the future. The pain pushes Bond into unconsciousness, and he is out…presumably for the rest of the day. The chapter ends with Fleming’s description of the silent room for the remainder of the day. It’s a chilling scene, and one that might require a couple reads to fully grasp what Fleming is describing.

In the silence, the cheerful small sounds of the summer’s day crept through the closed window. High on the left-hand wall hung two small patches of pink light. They were reflections cast upwards from the floor by the zebra stripes of June sunshine, cast upwards from two separate pools of blood a few feet apart.

As the day progressed the pink patches marched slowly along the wall. And slowly they grew larger.

Re-read that. How does Fleming come up with that description? You have terms like “cheerful”, “reflections”, “June sunshine”, and “pink”…terms that most people would associate in a warm, positive tone, yet the scene is decidedly anything but. It’s chilling. I haven’t read any author that has the descriptive skills of Ian Fleming. It’s an experience, even if you already read the book a dozen times.