The one article I found on it is under a paywall but you get the gist…
It’s a very tricky issue. I have no problem with a disclaimer being added to the texts, but I’m never comfortable with the idea of an authors (particularly a deceased author) words being edited.
As with the Dahl thing, it’s a commercial scam to drum up interest in a reissue.
I can understand doing it with Dahl as they are books for children and some of his ideas will be a bit outdated. But Bond has always been for adults and you would hope an adult audience is capable of understanding novels from a different era will contain problematic content.
And if you edit the racist references out of Live and Let Die what’s left? They may have to publish it as a back up story with Casino Royale or add it to one of the anthologies as it won’t be a novel anymore.
More than that; if you take racism out of Bond, then who is he?
Nonetheless, additional edits have been made in the interests of assuaging modern sensibilities:
To avoid suggestions of misogyny, Bond now notes the demise of Vesper Lynd with the remark, “The traitor is dead.”
Out of respect to animal rights, Bond now escapes from Dr No’s octopus by striking it with a rolled-up newspaper.
To avoid the sin of body-shaming, Drax’s teeth have been fixed and Mr Big and Goldfinger’s hat sizes reduced.
Pussy Galore is induced to help Bond after a heartfelt discussion in which Bond expresses respect for her lifestyle choices, while maintaining a comfortable degree of personal space.
I wonder if this will dampen enthusiasm for the re-releases or drive up sales from the curious and furious? If nothing else, they’ll sell a few copies to Fox News to be waved angrily before the cameras during indignant rants.
This is the future of any work that stays in print on an open-ended basis. As Ray Bradbury said of the many well-intentioned efforts by various groups and entities to “fix” – without apparently any grasp of irony – Fahrenheit 451 , “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
She… listened impatiently to the whimpering discords of an orchestra from Turkmenistan. This dreadful oriental stuff they were always putting on to please the kulaks of one of those barbaric outlying states.
She… listened to an orchestra from Turkmenistan. This challenging material they were always putting on to please the people of one of those outlying states.
And the gamblers stood and clawed at the handles of the machines as if they hated what they were doing… Crank-clatter-ting. Crank-clatter-ting. With an occasional silvery waterfall the metal cup would overflow and the gambler would have to go down on his knees to scrabble for a rolling coin. Or, strictly speaking, her knees, for they were mostly women,… elderly women of the prosperous housewife class. Droves of them stood at the banks of machines like hens in an egg battery… Now they reminded Bond of Dr. Pavlov’s dogs, saliva drooling at the treacherous bell that brought no dinner, and he shuddered at the empty eyes and the flaccid skin and the half -open mouths and the thoughtless minds.
And the knowing-when-to-stop-gamblers stood and pulled at the handles of the machines as if they were challenged by what they were doing… Crank-clatter-ting. Crank-clatter-ting. With an occasional silvery waterfall the metal cup would overflow and the gambler would have to go down on their knees to find a rolling coin. Or, strictly speaking, their knees, for they were mostly non-binary,… matured non-binary of the reasonably affluent working-from-home type. Cuddles of them stood at the banks of machines like puppies in a lovely blanket… Now they reminded Bond of Dr. Pavlov’s dogs, eyes moist at the lovely ding-ding of din-din, and he reacted in a way he would later regret at the eyes and the skin and the mouths and the minds.
Bond interrupted the rather solemn narrative. “The only trouble with beautiful Negro women is that they don’t know anything about birth control.”
Bond interrupted (rude!) the serious story. “The only trouble with beautiful womb-genders of colour (although everyone has a colour) is that they’re Republicans.”
Bond looked down at the dead Rasta. In death, his face was as horrible as it had been in life.
Bond looked down at the dead gentleperson. In death, their face was as distinctive as it had been in life.
“Our American residents are of a sympathetic type - on a low level. They enjoy the subservience, which I may say is only superficial, of our women. They enjoy the remaining strict patterns of our life - the symmetry, compared with the chaos that reigns in America. They enjoy our simplicity, with its underlying hint of deep meaning, as expressed in the tea ceremony, flower arrangements, No plays - none of which, of course, they understand. They also enjoy, because they have no ancestors and probably no family life worth speaking of, our veneration of the old and worship of the past.”
“Our American residents are of a sympathetic type - on an acceptable level. They enjoy the company, which I may say is only superficial, of our gendered. They enjoy the remaining clear patterns of our life - the symmetry, compared with the opportunity that reigns in America. They enjoy our simplicity, with its underlying hint of deep meaning, as expressed in the tea or coffee or lovely hot chocolate ceremony, flower arrangements, No plays - none of which, of course, they choose to understand. They also enjoy, because they are a young country and probably no family life (by choice), our veneration of the mature and worship of the past.”
Her teeth were even, and showed no more prominently between the lips than with a European girl’s, so that she avoided the toothiness that is a weak point in the Japanese face.
Their teeth were even, and showed no more prominently between the lips than with any womb-gender’s, so that they avoided the characterful toothiness that is a distinguishing point in the Japanese face.
"It’s like in the new African states where they pretend the cannibal stewpot in the chief’s hut was for cooking yams for the hungry children.”
"It’s like in the newly liberated states where they pretend the air-fryer in the mayor’s apartment was for cooking nuggets for the children.”
At Number 8 was the Maharajah of a small Indian state, probably with all his wartime sterling balances to play with. Bond’s experience told him that few of the Asiatic races were courageous gamblers, even the much-vaunted Chinese being inclined to lose heart if the going was bad… Number 10 was a prosperous-looking Italian, Signor Tomelli, who possibly had plenty of money from rack-rents in Milan and would probably play a dashing and foolish game. He might lose his temper and make a scene.
At Number 8 was the Maharajah of a lovely Indian state, probably with all their well-deserved wartime sterling balances to play with. Bond’s experience told them that several folks from Asia were courageous gamblers, and the Chinese [who now own this publisher, lovely people]… Number 10 was a prosperous Italian, Signor Tomelli, who possibly had plenty of money from socially beneficial projects in Milan and would probably play a dashing game. They might lose their temper and make a scene, but would apologise afterwards, of course, lest they be considered a stereotype.
The fantastic never materialized in this business. There would be some drab solution that had been embroidered by overheated imaginations and the usual hysteria of the Chinese.
The fantastic never materialized in this business. There would be some solution that had been embroidered by exceptional imaginations and the general jolliness of the Chinese.
The Canadiennes pride themselves on their spoken French, although it is a bastard patois full of two-hundred year old words which Frenchmen themselves don’t understand, and is larded with Frenchified English words…
Canadian womb-genders pride themselves on their spoken French, although it is a portmanteau patois full of two-hundred year old words which Frenchpersons themselves have forgotten, and is margerined with Frenchified English words…
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a great Negro criminal before,” said Bond. "Chinamen, of course, the men behind the opium trade. There’ve been some big-time Japs, mostly in pearls and drugs. Plenty of Negroes mixed up in diamonds and gold in Africa, but always in a small way.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a great criminal before,” said Bond. "Chinapersons, of course, the persons almost as much behind the opium trade as the British. There’ve been some big-time people from Japan, mostly in pokemon and anime. Plenty of people mixed up in diamonds and gold in Africa, but often in a small way, although they were probably denied a lot of opportunity due to colonialism.”
So these dark, ugly, neat little officials were the modern Turks. He listened to their voices, full of broad vowels and quiet sibilants and modified u-sounds, and watched the dark eyes that belied the soft, polite voices. They were bright, angry, cruel eyes that had only lately come down from the mountains. Bond thought he knew the history of those eyes. They were eyes that had been trained for centuries to watch over sheep and decipher small movements on far horizons. They were eyes that kept the knife-hand in sight without seeming to, that counted the grains of meal and the small fractions of a coin and noted the flicker of the merchant’s fingers. They were hard, untrusting, jealous eyes. Bond didn’t take to them.
So these neat officials were the modern Turks. They listened to their voices, full of vowels and sibilants and u-sounds, and watched the eyes that accompanied the soft, polite voices. They were bright eyes, burning like fire, that had been for a day-trip to the mountains. Bond thought they knew the history of those eyes. They were eyes that had been trained for centuries to watch over sheep and decipher small movements on far horizons. They were eyes that kept the cellphone in sight without seeming to, that counted the grains of meal to ensure everyone had enough and the small fractions of a coin because, y’know, cost of living, and noted the flicker of the pianist’s fingers. They were eyes. Bond was curious about them.
Kerim harangued the waiter. He sat back smiling at Bond. “That is the only way to treat these damned people. They love to be cursed and kicked. It is all they understand. It is in the blood. All this pretence of democracy is killing them. They want some sultans and wars and rape and fun. Poor brutes, in their striped suits and bowler hats. They are miserable. You’ve only got to look at them.”
Kerim beckoned the waiter. They sat back smiling at Bond. “That is the kindest way to treat these super-duper people. They love to be thanked and smiled-at. It is everything they expect. It is in the blood. All this democracy is benefiting them. They want some civil servants and clean water and friends and fun. Nice thems, in their striped suits and bowler hats. They are happy. You’ve only got to look at them.”
“But it is odd that you in the West do not use perfume. All our men do.” “We wash,” Bond said dryly."
“But it is odd that you in the West do not use perfume. All our non-wombs do.” “I am used as a means of selling aftershave,” Bond said dryly, dry because they had just used some 007 deodorant, get it from the 007 Store for only £349.99."
“They eat nothing but offal cooked in rancid olive oil in Turkey.”
“They eat nothing but Michelin-starred tripe cooked in extra virgin olive oil in Turkey.”
The words were yelled out, and the whole of Prussian militarism was in the parade-ground bellow.
The words were clearly spoken, and the whole of everywhere’s force of character was in the playground insistence.
“I quite agree about the Russians”, [replied Bond], "They simply don’t understand the carrot. Only the stick has any effect. Basically they’re masochists… That’s why they were so happy under Stalin. He gave it to them. I’m not sure how they’re going to react to the scraps of carrot they’re being fed by Khruschev and Co.”
“I quite agree about the Russians”, [replied Bond], "They simply might not understand the carrot, but they are great enthusiasts for a firm young parsnip. Only encouraging career development has any effect. Basically they appreciate being told what to do… That’s why they were so happy under Stalin. He gave it to them. I’m not sure how they’re going to react to the scraps of carrot they’re being fed by Putin.” (Umm…)
Russian girls are reticent and prudish about sex. In Russia the sexual climate is mid-Victorian.
Russian womb-genders are sensible about S-E-ecks. In Russia the sexual climate is like a nice summer morning.
On the honeymoon in Venice (all Germans go to Italy for their honeymoons) they would of course do it every night because, Kurt said, it was most important that ‘the act’ should be technically perfect, and to achieve this, much practice was necessary"
On the honeymoon in Venice (lots of people go to Italy for their honeymoons) they would of course play Scrabble every night because, Kurt said, it was most important that ‘the act’ should be technically perfect, and to achieve this, much practice was necessary"
“There’s nothing so extraordinary about American gangsters,” said Bond. "Anyways, they’re not really Americans. Mostly a lot of Italian bums with monogrammed shirts who spend the day eating spaghetti and meatballs and squirting scent all over themselves.”
“There’s nothing so extraordinary about American gangsters,” said Bond. "Anyway, they’re not really Native Americans. Mostly a lot of Italian non-wombers with expensive shirts who spend the day eating spaghetti and meatballs, there’s a simply divine recipe by Jamie Oliver in this week’s Radio Times, and considerately deodorising.”
He felt the sexual challenge all beautiful Lesbians have for men.
He felt the kindly empathy some beautiful womb-genders might have for some womb-genders and non-wombers, but it’s tremendously rude to pry.
“I’ll be glad to get out of here. I used to think your gangsters were just a bunch of Italian greaseballs who filled themselves up with pizza pie and beer all week and on Saturdays knocked off a garage or a drugstore to pay their way at the races. But they’ve certainly got plenty of violence on the payroll."
“I’ll be sad to get out of here. I used to think your gangsters were just a bunch of Italian non-wombers with nourishing pomade in their hair who enjoyed a nice pizza pie and beer all week (Nigella has a superb receipt, with crab, rocket and parma ham) and on Saturdays had a jolly picnic at the races. But they’ve certainly got plenty of enthusiasm on the payroll, which must be smashing at a team away-day."
The third member of the staff had a shifty Armenian face, with clever bright almond eyes.
The third member of the worker’s co-operative had a face, with eyes.
Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality’. As a result of fifty years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits – barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied.
Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton was one of those womb-genders whose hormones had taken an executive decision. He tried to understand the type well and had done some workplace training on the point (scoring 16/20 in the online quiz!) and thought they and their non-womber counterparts were a direct beneficial consequence of equality. As a result of fifty years of deserved emancipation, womber qualities were being shared. Glorious bouquets of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely anything that society would label, but decisive in not being able to explain very well what they were, which itself is a certainty and a choice. The result was a generation of variety – childless through choice and seeking their rightful place in the World, the womb-genders wanting to break the Glass Ceiling and the non-wombers to work from home and watch daytime TV.
"The language they talk in their room is Bulgarian. We don’t see many of those around. They’re mostly used against the Turks and the Yugoslavs. They are stupid, but obedient.”
"The language they talk in their room is Bulgarian, which has some really interesting aspects to its subjunctive; there’s an app I can recommend. We don’t see many of those around, which is a shame, but I suppose that’s Brexit for you. They’re mostly calling in on the Turks and the Yugoslavs. They are good fun.”
“The Chigroes are a tough, forgotten race. They look down on the negroes and the Chinese look down on them. One day they may become a nuisance, They’ve got some of the intelligence of the Chinese and most of the vices of the black man. The police have a lot of trouble with them.”
“The Chigroes are a misunderstood people. They have views on the people of colour and the Chinese do need a long hard look at their attitude to the Chigroes. They will need to ask themselves some very searching questions. One day they may become a commune, They’ve got the intelligence of the Chinese and most of the rhythm of the black man. The police have a lot of community support initiatives for them, if only they would come forward and take advantage of them (sigh).”
The other man looked like a Corsican shopkeeper. He was short and very dark with a flat head covered with thickly greased hair. He seemed to be a cripple.
The other non-womber was a shopkeeper. They had a head with hair. They seemed to be taking personal ownership of non-linear ambulatory lifestyle choice methods.
It was a strong Western handful of operative fingers - not the banana skin handshake of the East that makes you want to wipe your fingers on your coat-tail.
It was a strong handful of fingers - not the handshake of the East that makes you want to wipe your fingers on your hoodie because it’s so warm there due to years of Western pollution.
"You probably couldn’t find ten non-squeal killers in France…”
"You probably couldn’t find ten jars of Vegemite in France…”
Even supposing he found a girl in the next hour or so, the contents would certainly not stand up to the wrapping. On closer examination she would turn out to have the heavy, dank, wide-pored skin of the bourgeois French. The blond hair under the rakish velvet beret would be brown at the roots and as coarse as piano wire. The peppermint on the breath would not conceal the midday garlic. The alluring figure would be intricately scaffolded with wire and rubber.
Even supposing he found a womb-gender in the next hour or so, the contents would certainly not stand up to the wrapping. On closer examination they would turn out to have the well-scrubbed skin of the French and a whole host of other folk. The blond hair under the rakish velvet beret would be brown at the roots, as a style statement, and as delicate as a piano recital. The peppermint on the breath would complement the midday garlic (page 52 of Nigel Slater’s latest – it’s lush). The alluring figure would be appropriately dressed for the weather.
“They are to fight. If the loser is not killed she will be banished for ever. That will be the same as death. These people wither and die outside the tribe. They cannot live in our world. It is like wild beasts forced to live in a cage.”
“They are to mediate. If the less successful womb-gender does not accept the outcome, they will have to have a long, hard think about their conduct and provide a written apology to our HR department within 14 days. That will be the same as death. These people wither and die when dealing with HR procedures. They cannot live in our world. It is like zoos, of which I do not approve one little bit.”
Bond had put forward the proposition that, if M.I.5 and the Secret Service were to concern themselves seriously with the atom age ‘intellectual spy’, they must employ a certain number of intellectuals to counter them…" “Oh really,” Troop said with icy calm. “So you suggest we should staff the organization with long-haired perverts. That’s quite an original notion. I thought we were all agreed that homosexuals were about the worst security risk there is. I can’t see the Americans handing over many atom secrets to a lot of pansies soaked in scent.” “All intellectuals aren’t homosexual, [Bond replied]. And many of them are bald…”
Bond had politely suggested throught the feedback portal the proposition that, if M.I.5 and the Secret Service were to concern themselves seriously with the atom age ‘intellectual spy’, they must employ a certain number of intellectuals to counter them…" “Oh really,” Troop said pleasantly. “So you suggest we should staff the organization with gamers. That’s quite an original notion. I thought we were all agreed that all people equally were about the worst security risk there is. I can’t see the Americans handing over many atom secrets to a lot of people who wash.” “All intellectuals aren’t same-enthused, [Bond replied]. And many of them choose to shave their heads. Especially the womb-genders…”
Jamaican servants, for all their charm and willingness, are not of this calibre.
Jamaican servants, with all their charm and willingness, have an equally valid skillset and SMART objectives.
By the time the coffee came, Pleydell-Smith was delving well below the surface of the prosperous, peaceful island the world knows. “It’s like this.” He began his antics with the pipe. “The Jamaican is a kindly lazy man with the virtues and vices of a child. He lives on a very rich island but he doesn’t get rich from it. He doesn’t know how to and he’s too lazy. The British come and make easy pickings, but for about two hundred years no Englishman has made a fortune here. He doesn’t stay long enough. He takes a fat cut and leaves. It’s the Portuguese Jews who make the most. They came here with the British and they’ve stayed. But they’re snobs, and they spend too much of their fortunes on building fine houses and giving dances… Then come the Syrians, very rich too, but not such good businessmen… They’re not a very good risk. Then there are the Indians, with their usual flashy trade in soft goods and the like. They’re not much of a lot.”
By the time the coffee came, although they felt guilty about not making it themselves, Pleydell-Smith was delving well below the surface of the prosperous, peaceful island the world knows. “It’s like this.” He began his antics with the fidget-spinner. “The Jamaican is a kindly womb-gender and/or non-womber with the virtues of a child. They live on a very rich island but they don’t get rich from it, despite the social security infrastructure available. They don’t know how to, because the forms are a nightmare, and he’s too relaxed. The British come and say hello, but for about two hundred years no Englishperson has made a fortune here. They don’t stay long enough, although the memories of the resort holiday will last a lifetime. They take a lot of photos and leave. It’s the Portuguese Jews who are very successful. They came here with the British and they’ve stayed. But they’re very social and great party-givers, and they spend much of their fortunes on building fine houses and giving dances… Then come the Syrians, because one must take one’s share and not pack them off to Rwanda at the first available opportunity…There are challenges there, one admits. Then there are the Indians, with their usual non-modern-slavery-based trade in soft goods and the like. I like them a lot.”
“…the sickly zoo smell of Oddjob.”
“…the petting-zoo smell of Oddjob.”
Can confirm the 70th anniversary editions will be edited.
“We at Ian Fleming Publications reviewed the text of the original Bond books and decided our best course of action was to follow Ian’s lead. We have made changes to ‘Live and Let Die’ that he himself authorized.
“Following Ian’s approach, we looked at the instances of several racial terms across the books and removed a number of individual words or else swapped them for terms that are more accepted today but in keeping with the period in which the books were written.
“We encourage people to read the books for themselves when the new paperbacks are published in April.”
Each book will also carry the disclaimer, “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace. A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”
Examples of revised lines include Bond’s assessment in “Live and Let Die” that would-be African criminals are “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought, except when they’ve drunk too much,” which has been changed to “pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought."
Terms such as the n-word, which featured in those decades have been edited in the novels. In the novels which were released between 1951 and 1966, the commonly derogatory term for Black people has been almost fully replaced by “Black person.”
Another scene in the book, set during a strip tease at a Harlem nightclub, was originally “Bond could hear the audience panting and grunting like pigs at the trough. He felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry.” This has been revised to “Bond could sense the electric tension in the room.” A segment in the book describing accented dialogue as “straight Harlem-Deep South with a lot of New York thrown in,” has been removed.
Some criminals escaping from Bond in Dr No become simply “gangsters”. In the same novel, the race of a doctor and an immigration officer now go unmentioned, as does that of a henchman shot by Bond.
The ethnicity of a barman in Thunderball is similarly omitted in new editions. In Quantum of Solace, a butler’s race now also goes unmentioned.
Detail is also removed from Goldfinger, where the race of the drivers in the Second World War logistics unit, the Red Ball Express – which had many black servicemen – is not mentioned, instead referring only to “ex-drivers”.
From all I’ve read about the man, Fleming probably took the sanitizing of the American printings the same way he took Eon’s changes for the film adaptations: As long as the checks clear at the bank, let 'em change whatever they want.
Please save your outrage for after we’ve got your money.
Because there are some times when it’s NOT “derogatory”?!?!?!?
Almost fully? I’m going to assume they mean that in some cases there’s another replacement, and not that in some cases the n-word was left in. (?)
So now not only does the rest of the audience not react like farm animals (I’ll give you that one) but Bond himself has no physical or emotional reaction to the performance, merely noting, dispassionately, a sense of tension in the venue? So he’s not only not a racist any more, he’s also not a hedonist or rabidly hetero? I can’t wait until we get to his obit in OHMSS where his dad is revealed as the Vulcan ambassador.
A perfect example of where things go too far:
“Bond could hear the audience panting and grunting like pigs at the trough. He felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry”
“Bond could sense the electric tension in the room.”
Removing or changing the first line is one thing but ‘he felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry?’ There is zero reason to take that out.
I’m going to go to the bookshelf I keep my Folio Society editions on, give them a hug, and maybe pour them a drink.
IFP is being disingenuous. Here’s a letter Fleming sent to his American literary agent Naomi Burton in May 1955, which was reprinted in Chapter 19 of Pearson’s biography:
By the way and sucks to you, I had a drink with Raymond Chandler last night and he said that the best bit of Live and Let Die was the conversation between the two negroes in Harlem, which he said was dead accurate. Perhaps you remember that you nearly sneered me into cutting it out on grounds that “Negroes don’t talk like that.”
Chandler’s copy of LALD came directly from Fleming, so it was the British version. And the conversation alluded to was cut from the American edition published in April 1955. While Burton didn’t succeed in pressuring Fleming to cut the passage, Fleming’s American editor Al Hart did. In any case, the letter makes clear that Fleming was proud of the scene—and based on this letter he would not have preferred this edit to the original British version.
If Fleming preferred the American edits, why didn’t he incorporate them into the British versions or their reprints? He had many opportunities to do so, especially after the books became best-sellers.
It’s clear that Fleming was eager to break into the American market and agreed to any edits suggested by American editors. That’s why the first American paperback edition of Casino Royale was retitled You Asked For It, and Moonraker was rechristened Too Hot to Handle. Fleming approved of those changes too. Does anyone regard them as definitive?
Now, as a matter of fact, Fleming did request one post-publication edit change to every version of LALD. Here is a line from Chapter 11: “Solitaire called for him. The room smelled of Balmain’s Vent Vert.”
Fleming originally wrote “Dior’s Vent Vert” and was embarrassed by this error, as one of his letters demonstrates: “Alas, attributing Vent Vert to Dior was nearly as bad as when, in one of my books, I made Bond eat asparagus with sauce bearnaise instead of mousseline.”
So this correction to Live and Let Die was definitely requested by Fleming. But if Fleming requested this change to the British edition, why didn’t he request all the other edits from the American version too, if he supposedly preferred them? Given the opportunity to make all those edits, including the racial ones, Fleming only chose to correct his perfume mistake.
Removing offensive material from Fleming is like closing the barn door 60 years after the horse left. First-time readers will get a distorted version of the books—and they’ll likely feel betrayed after learning they’d read a censored version that gave a dishonestly innocuous version of Fleming’s racial attitudes.
It’s pointless to censor the books and pretend they don’t have racist passages. Who’s going to be fooled by this, when the original texts have been circulating for more than 60 years and will continue to do so in used bookshops and online? Anyone who comes away from the new editions thinking the Bond books don’t have offensive passages will quickly be disabused by reality (and a quick look at the internet). The project is incredibly patronizing to any intelligent reader.
I’m not too sure who these editions are for to be honest. I don’t know how big the market is of people wanting to read Fleming but were either ignorant of the books (widely well known) dated areas, and/or were just wanting and waiting for edited, sanitised versions they would feel comfortable buying. How many people would read that article and think “finally, some fellows have assumed what an author who died 59 years ago would want them to do and have modernised his texts, at last I can try out these books that have been around for 70 years”.
Coupled with the dull and lazy covers, I’m sure even a lot of collectors will stay away from these.
Ian Fleming Publications are in a position where they have a limited number of texts they have to continue to try to profit off. How many reissues can they put out to entise sales? I do not think edited versions would ever be something many collections would be upgraded to.
It would be incredibly cynical if they now have manufactured a situation where they can release “original and uncensored” versions in the future to drum up sales again.
At this point, I imagine the largest audience for Fleming’s novels is long-time fans who already have multiple printings but keep buying the latest versions out of some obsessive strain of completism. Even they should feel ambivalent about versions that are not, strictly speaking, the actual work of Ian Fleming. I’m betting this project does not prove terribly profitable.
I agree with Revelator that just because the author acquiesced to censorship while he was still with us does not make it “Ian’s approach,” or that he was pleased with the results. It does provide a convenient dodge for charges that “Fleming would never have stood for this,” but that’s about it.
Inevitable, I’d say.
Revelator nailed it. I’m firmly against alterations. The work of an artist reflects on them and the period in which it was created. The books have been in print for 70 years and are what they are.
I don’t quite understand the rationale, Flemings books aren’t exactly hard to find, changing something that the only people who are likely to have already known that it used to be there will actually buy?
Surely a notice that “These books were written by a very rich middle aged white man in the 1950’s and does often read like that.” would’ve better served them?
The traditional “For this one, we’re going back to Fleming” adopts avenues of curiosity, then. Some may see a conspiracy leading to a “Black” Bond. Those people are cretins, but are apparently permitted to draw breath.
Library sales? Maybe they want versions libraries won’t resist acquiring for fear they’ll have to be removed after some kind of protest is raised?
The films proved that a racially tolerant and even kid-friendly Bond can make money, so why not? Maybe Step Two is to slip in more gadgets and one-liners.
Great find as usual, @Revelator
That Burton’s letter is very interesting.
Because Raymond Chandler was an expert on how Negroes talk. Paging Chester Himes!