Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Battle of the Sexes, Fair and Unfair

Novelist and former British naval intelligence officer Ian Fleming

James Bond’s attitude toward women has been much criticized, but it wasn’t fictional. It precisely matched his creator’s.
Even the melodramatic tragedy characteristic of 007’s relationships with women was prefigured in Ian Fleming’s real life.
Alan Schneider, a U.S. naval intelligence officer who knew Fleming during World War II, noted that women, whether English aristocrats or American officers, all got the same backhanded treatment from Fleming.
“He got bored with them fast and could be brutal about it,” Schneider said. “He had absolutely no jealousy. He explained to me that women were not worth that much emotion. But with it all, he had an abiding and continual interest in sex without any sense of shame or guilt.”
Fleming told Schneider that “…women were like pets, like dogs. Men were the only real human beings, the only ones he could be friends with.”
Muriel Wright in Austria in the 1930s
“The unreality of this pose was brought home to Ian rather brutally in mid-March 1944 when his faithful Muriel (Wright) was killed in an air raid,” wrote biographer Andrew Lycett.
“All such casualties are, by definition, unlucky, but she was particularly so, because the structure of her new flat at 9 Eton Terrace Mews was left intact. She died instantly when a piece of masonry flew in through a window and struck her full on the head. Because there was no obvious damage, no one thought to look for the injured or dead; it was only after her chow, Pushkin, was seen whimpering outside that a search was made.
“As her only known contact, Ian was called to identify her body, still in a nightdress. Afterwards he walked round to the Dorchester and made his way to Esmond and Ann’s (Rothermere’s) room. Without saying a word he poured himself a large glass of whisky, and remained silent. He was immediately consumed with grief and guilt at the cavalier way he had treated her. It only made matters worse to know she had just been put on her motor bike to collect 200 of his special order cigarettes from Morlands. He was immediately very sentimental about Muriel, refusing to return to restaurants they had once visited together.
“Dunstan Curtis, an old Etonian in his intelligence assault unit, commented cynically, ‘The trouble with Ian is that you have to get yourself killed before he feels anything.’”
The final irony is that the fictional womanizer James Bond was born, not of Fleming’s rakish bachelor days, but of his first marriage — at 43, to his pregnant mistress. Finding the prospect nerve-wracking, Fleming distracted himself by writing his first novel.
In 1952, his bride-to-be, the aforementioned Ann Charteris O’Neill Rothermere, recorded in her diary, “This morning Ian started to type a book. Very good thing.”
That very good thing was “Casino Royale.”
Source: “Ian Fleming” by Andrew Lycett

No comments:

Post a Comment