October 22, 2011 2 Comments
Casino Royale (1953) is the first of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, and since I’ve decided to write my master’s thesis on this classic series of espionage novels, blogging about the series would be a help to my own writing process. I’ll be dealing with the semiotic and propaganda effects of real events being fictionalized, and then the resulting impact and purpose of the fiction as it passes into mass media consumption. As Fleming himself noted, “everything I write has precedent in truth.”
This is crucial to keep in mind as one works through the novels and films, as it becomes clearer and clearer that Fleming, himself a top British intelligence agent, gradually reveals the means and methods of control and manipulation by the top of the pyramid. Bond himself is a cog in this machine, situated as the symbol of the loyal, western, capitalist hemisphere, battling what he discovers to be the evil Soviet anti-spy agency, SMERSH. SMERSH is a kind of Soviet “Secret Team” that proclaims “death to all spies.”
In the beginning, however, Bond is not after SMERSH, but a wealthy, disfigured rogue who stuck out on his own and created a “fifth column” from SMERSH, named LeChiffre. LeChiffre translates as “the cypher,” letting us know more is at work here. LeChiffre, according to Bond writer Ian MacIntyre, was based on British Satanist/occultist Aleister Crowley.
In fact, Ian Fleming, it has recently been claimed by researcher Anthony Masters, was responsible for crafting the plot to lure Rudolph Hess to Scotland based on a bogus astrological chart that tickled Hess’ fancy, created by Crowley. The plot worked, apparently, and Hess parachuted into Scotland and was captured. LeChiffre, “the cypher,” has curious features, and like many Bond villains a strange sexual appetite and fixation, in the same vein as Crowley.
Soon into the novel, Bond meets his first “Bond girl,” Vesper Lynd, who will double-cross him and be exposed as a SMERSH agent working under duress. What’s interesting is that a team of Bulgarian communists attempts to assassinate Bond with an explosive device soon after Bond arrives in the fictional Royale-Les-Eaux in Northern France. The explosion fails in its design, however, and a cover story is created, blaming in on leftist, communistic terror. Read more of this post