Fleming Quotes

On James Bond:

“Bond is not a hero, nor is he depicted as being very likable or admirable. He is a Secret Service Agent. He’s not a bad man, but he is ruthless and self-indulgent. He enjoys the fight- he also enjoys the prizes. In fiction people used to have blood in their veins. Nowadays they have pond water. My books are just out of step. But then so are all the people who read them.”

“I didn’t intend for Bond to be likable. He’s a blunt instrument in the hands of the government. He’s got vices and few perceptible virtues.”

On Spies:

“Spies are trained to keep their mouths shut and they don’t often lose the habit. That’s why true spy stories are extremely rare, and personally I have never seen one in print that completely rang true. Even in fiction, there is very little good spy literature. There is something in the subject that leads to exaggeration, and the literary framework of ‘a beginning and a middle and an end’ doesn’t belong to good spy writing, which should be full of loose ends and drabness and ultimate despair. Perhaps only Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene and Eric Ambler have caught the squalor and greyness of the Secret Service.”

On the Rewards of Writing:

“First of all, they are financial. You don’t make a great deal of money from royalties and translation rights and so forth and, unless you are very industrious and successful, you could only just about live on these profits, but if you sell the serial rights and film rights, you do very well.Above all, being a comparatively successful writer is a good life. You don’t have to work at it all the time and you carry your office around in your head. And you are far more aware of the world around you. Writing makes you more alive to your surroundings and, since the main ingredient of living, though you might not think so to look at most human beings, is to be alive, this is quite a worthwhile by-product, even if you only write thrillers.”

On Gambling and Cards:

“Every fine card player I have ever known has this philosophy, but I will caution you that very few fine card players are the sort of people you and I would like to play with. It’s not fun playing against cold-hearted butchers, however soft their words, and as you read about them in these gay, smoke-filled pages I think you will often feel a chill of apprehension. But it will be an authentic chill. That is why, not as a poker player, but as a writer of thrillers, I can recommend this book to every consenting adult card player in Great Britain.”

“Myself, as fine writers phrase it, I am not a good poker player. I drink and smoke and enjoy the game too much. You shouldn’t do any of these things if you want to win at poker. Poker is a cold-hearted, deadly game that breaks and bankrupts men today just as, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, écarté, backgammon, ombre and faro bankrupted our rakehelly ancestors”

“If it were possible to have worse laws than our sex laws they would be the laws that regulate gambling […] So the pools are legal and poker isn’t. Balderdash, and hypocritical balderdash at that, to the power of n.”

On his books as studies in ‘sex, snobbery and sadism’:

“Well, I don’t think they are studies in any of those quite proper ingredients of a thriller. Sex, of course, comes into all interesting books and into interesting lives. As to snobbery. I think that’s pretty good nonsense, really. In fact, we’d all of us like to eat better, stay in better hotels, wear better clothes, drive faster motor-cars, and so on, and it amuses me that my hero does most of these things. As for sadism, well, I think the old-fashioned way of beating up a spy with a baseball bat has gone out with the last war, and I think it’s permissible to give him a rather tougher time than we used to in the old-fashioned days before the war.’12”

On meeting the Kennedys:

“Well, it was rather interesting. About a year before Mr Kennedy became President, I was staying in Washington with a friend of mine and she was driving me through, it was a Sunday morning, and she was driving me through Washington down to Georgetown and there were two people walking along the street and she said, “Oh, there are my friends Jack and Jackie,” and they were indeed very close friends of hers, and she stopped and they talked. And she said, “Do you know Ian Fleming?” And Jack Kennedy said, “Not the Ian Fleming?” Of course that was a very exciting thing for him to say and it turned out that they were both great fans of my books, as indeed is Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General, and they invited me to dinner that night with my friend, and we had great fun discussing the books and from then on I’ve always sent copies of them direct and personally to him before they’re published over here.’15”

On Richard Chopping:

“Dickie Chopping is probably the finest Trompe-l’Oeil painter in the world and for whose work I have a great admiration.”

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