Casino Royale | Study Guide

Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale | 10 Things You Didn't Know

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Ian Fleming's Casino Royale heralded the beginning of the popular James Bond franchise, which has spawned films, graphic novels, and video games. The iconic Agent 007, working for a clandestine British intelligence agency, is perhaps the most recognizable figure of espionage fiction. Published in 1953, Casino Royale chronicles Bond's mission at a lavish casino in northern France.

Fleming wrote Casino Royale from his Jamaica estate, named "Goldeneye"—which would later be used in another Bond work. The author had quite a bit in common with his protagonist. James Bond's dashing sense of style and sophistication is often viewed as a reflection of Fleming himself. Casino Royale was also adapted as a film in 2006—a reboot of the Bond film series—starring Daniel Craig in his first performance as Bond.

1. Casino Royale was inspired by Fleming's background in military intelligence.

Fleming was a wealthy and dapper author who shared many traits with his character, James Bond. During World War II Fleming himself worked for British Naval Intelligence, a position that would later inspire him to craft the smooth, cunning protagonist of the Bond franchise. Fleming even allegedly met his own "Bond girl"—an intelligence operative named Christine Granville—working behind enemy lines in occupied Poland and France; he reportedly had an affair with Granville. After the war Fleming became a successful reporter, eventually leading to a career in writing.

2. Fleming claimed to have written Casino Royale to distract himself before his wedding.

When asked why he decided to write Casino Royale, Fleming always posited that, at the time, he had no aspirations to become a best-selling author. Instead, he claimed to have written the novel to distract himself from his approaching wedding date in March 1952. Fleming was surprised Casino Royale received such favorable reviews from critics and found such a wide readership in Britain and abroad.

3. NASA scientists borrowed Bond's name for an asteroid.

James Bond may be a fictional character, but a real Bond does exist—hurtling through space. An asteroid discovered by the Czech astronomer Antonín Mrkos in 1983 was given the name "9007 James Bond" to pay homage to Fleming's character. The official NASA database entry on the asteroid describes its namesake, James Bond, stating:

Named for British Secret Service agent James Bond (007), the creation of novelist Ian Fleming, a former British naval intelligence officer.

4. Fleming gave Bond a different name in an early draft of Casino Royale.

Bond's name is an integral part of the franchise. The character's cold delivery of the line "Bond, James Bond" has become the most well-known catchphrase in spy literature. However, Fleming nearly gave Bond a different name: James Secretan. Although the wordplay on secret may be clever, critics agree James Secretan just doesn't have the same ring to it as James Bond. In a draft of the manuscript, Fleming crossed out Secretan with blue ink, replacing it with Bond.

5. James Bond's name came from a bird-watcher, not a spy.

Although the name "James Bond" immediately conjures up images of espionage and action, the character's namesake actually had nothing to do with the intelligence community. The real James Bond was a famous ornithologist—a scientist who studies birds. This Bond was famous for his studies of the birds of the Caribbean, proving many species on the islands originated in North America, instead of South America, as previously thought. Bond's field guide, Birds of the West Indies, fell into the hands of Fleming (who was himself an avid bird-watcher), and Fleming wrote to Bond's wife to ask permission to borrow his name. In the letter Fleming joked:

I can only offer you or James Bond unlimited use of the name Ian Fleming for any purposes you may think fit. Perhaps one day your husband will discover a particularly horrible species of bird which he would like to christen in an insulting fashion by calling it Ian Fleming.

6. There are health benefits to Bond's favorite drink, a martini "shaken, not stirred."

"Shaken, not stirred" is the famous line Bond often delivers while ordering a martini. Scientists were curious about the potential health benefits of this particular order and published an article entitled "Shaken, not stirred: bioanalytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis." After examining both shaken and stirred martinis, they found that "shaken martinis were more effective in deactivating hydrogen peroxide than the stirred variety," leading to the conclusion that "007's profound state of health may be due, at least in part, to compliant bartenders."

7. A tiny island in Thailand is named after Bond and is very popular with tourists.

A minuscule island jutting out of the sea in Thailand is named "James Bond Island." The island appears in the 1974 Bond film Man with the Golden Gun as Bond flies over Phang Nga Bay in Thailand. Bond fans from around the world, and particularly from the nearby city of Phuket, Thailand, flock to see the landmark. It's possible to arrange a Bond-style helicopter ride over the bay to experience the area from 007's perspective in the film.

8. The Bond franchise has been criticized for "sex, sadism, and snobbery."

Some conservative reviewers have expressed disapproval toward the Bond franchise, and particularly Bond's cultivated image. The terms sex, sadism, and snobbery have been thrown around, critiquing Bond's promiscuity with women, his penchant for violence, and his classist worldview. The political left has also taken offense to Bond, as a BBC article entitled "Is James Bond Loathsome?" claimed that:

Ideologically, none of us should like the Bond films. They are sexist, heterosexist, xenophobic, everything that is not politically correct. Either the audiences don't notice these ideological issues or the films provide a different kind of pleasure.

9. The cars from the Bond films have been big hits at auctions.

Some of the vehicles used in the Bond films—particularly Bond's trademark Aston Martins—have been sold to wealthy fans at auctions. The car from the films Goldfinger and Thunderball was sold to a private collector for more than $2,000,000. During the auction, the auctioneer dimmed the lights and drove the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 model onstage, wearing a Bond-style tuxedo. This entrance was met with a standing ovation from the excited crowd.

10. There's been a dispute over who composed the famous theme music from the Bond films.

Composer Monty Norman is generally credited as the writer of the famous introductory music from the Bond films. However, a 1997 article published in the Sunday Times claimed Norman was a fraud and should not be credited as the composer. The newspaper instead claimed English composer John Barry should get the credit. Norman took the Sunday Times to court over the matter, winning a sizable settlement. After the trial, Norman expressed his happiness at the outcome, stating:

I am absolutely delighted—and vindicated. The Sunday Times always said that they were only interested in the truth. Well, now they've got the truth.

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