Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2010

Eva Green in Casino Royale

As I was putting up Lanying’s bedroom mirror, she said to me “Shall I wipe away the pencil mark now?” She had made a mark on the wall where she wanted the mirror to go.

“Only if you want me to trip over you and break my neck,” I told her, aiming the drill at a spot on the wall three inches above her left shoulder.

That made her angry. “I hate you English!” she said. “Why can’t you say what you mean?”

But I was saying what I meant.

I’m sure Vesper Lynd was also saying what she meant when, wearing a black velvet dress that was “simple and yet with the touch of splendour that only half a dozen couturiers in the world can achieve,” she turned to James Bond and said:

‘Do you mind if we go straight into dinner? I want to make a grand entrance and the truth is there’s a horrible secret about black velvet. It marks when you sit down. And, by the way, if you hear me scream tonight, I shall have sat on a cane chair.’

It is a perfectly reasonable thing to scream about but some commentators seem to have missed the irony and take her for only a silly woman.

The irony is not lost on Bond, who screams and thinks of Vesper while Le Chiffre is attacking his exposed underparts with a cane carpet beater through the hole in a bottomless cane chair.

Some commentators have called Ian Fleming a misogynist because of his portrayal of Vesper Lynd. Probably those commentators are impervious to the tenderness in the moment when Bond’s ice cold brutality melts and he asks her, ‘Do you know, that first morning I was coming back to ask you to marry me. Can’t we go back to the beginning again?’

Fleming’s detractors probably skimmed over the bit where Vesper’s deep blue eyes were swimming with tears because of the secret she couldn’t possibly share. The depths in her actions and in her character must have been lost on them.

I wonder how much they skipped in order to reach the last paragraph, which they probably read, as they read the whole book, without irony.

‘This is 007 speaking. This is an open line. It’s an emergency. Can you hear me? Pass this on at once. 3030 was a double, working for Redland.

‘Yes, dammit, I said “was.” The bitch is dead now.’

Call me misogynistic, but for me that final sentence is definitely the best in the book.

Read Full Post »

Ian Fleming - imaginative

Sometimes it can be hard going but I like to read biographies of great writers. You can learn a lot from them. This year I’ve been reading The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham by Selina Hastings. When I can prise it away from my wife, that is. She’s been hogging it quite a bit and only feeding me tantalising snippets in the car on the way to the supermarket.

For instance, last weekend she told me that Ian Fleming had a very creative sex life.

Ian Fleming, who was delighted by Maugham’s response to his first book, Casino Royale, was too busy with his job at the Sunday Times to stay with Maugham often but when he did he certainly left an impression.

Soon after their wedding the Flemings came to stay at the Mauresque [Maugham’s villa in the South of France] and Maugham was touched to see how deeply the couple were in love. He was puzzled, however, by the large number of towels they used, upwards of nine a day left in a damp pile on the bathroom floor. It later transpired that Fleming during sessions of highly inventive sex liked to whip his wife with a wet towel, then use another to wrap her in and soothe the smart.

Selina Hastings doesn’t tell us how Maugham found out how the towels were used. Presumably Ann Fleming, who was a regular visitor without her husband, succumbed to Maugham’s infamous charm and revealed all. I like to think so, anyway.

I came across a biography of Ian Fleming the other day but I resisted it. I have decided to read his novels instead. I am sure they are as creative as his sex life. After all, it took a lot to impress Maugham, whose own sexual imagination had to be curbed by the Commissioner of Scotland Yard, no less.

Beverley Nichols, who might be assumed to know what he was talking about, said of Maugham, ‘He was the most sexually voracious man I’ve ever known’; and Hugh Walpole, himself no laggard on the homosexual scene, told Virginia Woolf that in his view Maugham was lucky not to have been ‘jugged [imprisoned]. You don’t know the kind of life that Willie has led. I do.’ As Maugham was recognised wherever he went, his behaviour inevitably became the subject of gossip, and not only within the queer world. It was about this time that some disquieting information on the matter came to the attention of none other than the Commissioner of the Metropoiltan Police at Scotland Yard; alarmed by its content the Commissioner felt obliged to convey a message to F.H. Maugham, discreetly indicating that he should issue a warning to his younger brother.

I didn’t come across many sexual revelations in Lyndall Gordon’s biography of Emily Dickinson, Lives like Loaded Guns. I suppose that’s because all the sexual energy is in the poems.

‘Abyss has no biographer —‘, Emily Dickinson said.

A still — Volcano — Life —
That flickered in the night —
When it was dark enough to do
Without erasing sight —

A quiet — Earthquake Style —
Too subtle to suspect
By natures this side Naples —
The North cannot detect

The Solemn — Torrid — Symbol —
The lips that never lie —
Whose hissing Corals part — and shut —
And Cities — ooze away —

A still -- Volcano -- Life --
That flickered in the night --
When it was dark enough to do
Without erasing sight --

A quiet -- Earthquake Style --
Too subtle to suspect
By natures this side Naples --
The North cannot detect

The Solemn -- Torrid -- Symbol --
The lips that never lie --
Whose hissing Corals part -- and shut --
And Cities -- ooze away --

Read Full Post »