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Goldfinger [James Bond #7] by Ian Fleming
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Member:MSWallack
Title:Goldfinger [James Bond #7]
Authors:Ian Fleming (Author)
Info:Thomas & Mercer (2012), 295 pages
Collections:Your library, Read
Rating:*****
Tags:James Bond

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Goldfinger by Ian Fleming

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Ian Fleming

Goldfinger

Signet, Paperback [1959].

12mo. 191 pp.

First published, 1959.
23rd printing, n.d. [1964?]

Contents

Part I. Happenstance

I. Reflections in a Double Bourbon
II. Living It Up
III. The Man with Agoraphobia
IV. Over the Barrel
V. Night Duty
VI. Talk of Gold
VII. Thoughts in a D.B. III
Part II. Coincidence
VIII. All to Play For
IX. The Cup and the Lip
X. Up at the Grange
XI. The Odd-Job Man
XII. Long Tail on a Ghost
XIII. ‘If You Touch Me There...’
XIV. Things that Go Thump in the Night
Part III. Enemy Action
XV. The Pressure Room
XVI. The Last and the Biggest
XVII. Hoods’ Congress
XVIII. Crime de la Crime
XIX. Secret Appendix
XX. Journey into Holocaust
XXI. The Richest Man in History
XXII. The Last Trick
XXIII. T.L.C. Treatment

========================================

James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.

It was part of his profession to kill people. He had never liked doing it and when he had to kill he did it as well as he knew how and forgot about it. As a secret agent who held the rare double-O prefix – the licence to kill in the Secret Service – it was his duty to be as cool about death as a surgeon. If it happened, it happened. Regret was unprofessional – worse, it was death-watch beetle in the soul.


This is not a bad beginning. Somewhat surprisingly, at least for this reader coming here after the film, this is not a bad novel either. Now, the movie gives the impression of a farce made by moderately intelligent ten-year-olds for the enjoyment of moderately stupid five-year-olds. It has Sean Connery at his most dashing, some great shooting on location in Switzerland – and nothing else. The novel, whatever faults of style and structure it may have, is for adults.

Fleming is a good writer, if not a great one. He has an effective way of describing people and places. Goldfinger, for instance, has “the face of a thinker, perhaps a scientist, who was ruthless, sensual, stoical and tough. An odd combination.” Goldfinger’s disconcerting gaze, elaborately formal speech, supremely relaxed attitude, mad obsession with gold and highly theatrical megalomania are also conveyed in a chilling, powerful way. He cuts an impressive and sinister figure. On the whole, this is not a negligible piece of villainous characterisation, far superior to the cartoonish creature in the movie. Fleming’s atmospheric depiction of places is even better. Here is one example, a restaurant in a posh seaside resort:

Inside, the big room was decorated in white with pink muslin swags over the windows. There were pink lights on the tables. The restaurant was crowded with sunburned people in expensive tropical get-ups. Brilliant garish shirts, jangling gold bangles, dark glasses with jewelled rims, cute native straw hats. There was a confusion of scents. The wry smell of bodies that had been all day in the sun came through.

The faults of Fleming’s style are mostly his passion for games and sports. If you are not wildly enthusiastic about canasta and golf, you may find some parts of this novel very heavy-going. Superfluous detail about Bond’s dress, equipment and surroundings might also be tedious now and then. Fleming evidently didn’t think this novel would survive the test of time, or he would not have loaded it with topical references – anything from hotels and meals to drinks and purges – that make much less sense today than they did in the late 1950s.

As far as the plot goes, pace the usual improbabilities for which you have to make allowances in that kind of book, it unfolds at a relatively slow but steady pace, though much of the suspense is drown in Fleming’s verbosity. Those tiny details he is fond of, so evocative about people and places, are not very welcome when a golf game or a tail job has to be made the most of. But I admit I was kept on a leash from the first page to the last, several attention drops notwithstanding. Especially Part III, progressively outlandish as it is, proved to be rather a spellbinding read. The whole novel has a special atmosphere, a character, an aura, call it what you will, of sophisticated double-dealing and suppressed violence that was, alas, completely lost in the movie.

James Bond, much like Hercule Poirot, is an entertaining character without being conventionally likeable. He is not terribly intelligent and he is certainly full of silly prejudices, but he is a meticulous professional who lives in a “cocoon of danger” and, as made clear in the very opening and confirmed several times later, not devoid of some humanity. He is supposed to be British, even patriotically so, but he can be accused of some horribly un-British activities, like never drinking tea for instance. He loves women of course, but nowhere near as much as they love him. He even (mis)quotes poetry: “Some love is fire, some love is rust. But the finest, cleanest love is lust.” Sad to say, the women are not Fleming’s forte. Neither of the Masterton sisters has much personality or charm, and Pussy Galore has nothing at all except brash lesbianism (“‘Move over, Handsome. Us girls want to talk secrets. Don’t we, yummy?’”) and one immortal name. Bond doesn’t use them with the heartlessness that’s supposed to be typical of him, but he certainly overshadows them. The ominous tension along the Bond-Goldfinger axis steals the show:

‘Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” Miami, Sandwich and now Geneva. I propose to wring the truth out of you.’

The parallel with the famous Belgian sleuth is not incidental. The Bond novels, if this one is anything to go by, are much like the Poirot mysteries (of which I’ve read two, neither the most famous nor the most obscure). They are amusing enough for a single, quick and easy read, but not terribly memorable. I would love to read more when I’m in a suitable mood, but I’m not at all anxious to. I cannot help wondering what keeps them in print so many decades after the first publication. I suppose they appeared at the right historical time, explored the vogue for sleuths and spies to the utmost, and have been sentimentally regarded as seminal examples of the Golden Age of Fantastic Realism ever since.

Perhaps the movies also helped, especially the mammoth Bond franchise. Well, the 1964 Connery flick certainly did a poor adaptation job, turning Bond from a smart and cynical yet complex and compassionate human being into a cheap, goofy, gadget-obsessed, sorry excuse for a humorist. The Golden Rule of Divided Loyalties applies here. When in doubt, read the book. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Jun 21, 2017 |
Fleming's formula for the British, Bond spy adventure has never worked better. ( )
  Birdo82 | Jan 16, 2017 |
... so I read this book last year, and I was so hoping I would love it as I did the previous James Bond collection I read, and I just didn't.

I know the sexism is just a part of the books and that's fine, I can accept that - as long as it remains part of the character's flaws, and not the author's prejudices.

Auric Goldfinger's workmen or thugs are Korean, but Fleming refers to them as gorillas, beasts or animals. He describes their physical features in a way that objectifies them, makes them ugly and makes me so uncomfortable.

Fleming also implies through his writing that Pussy Galore is a woman, (or, lesbian) who merely needs a proper man to show her what he wants.

~~ Spoilers! ~~

Bond does, of course, in the end. Which is fine, I guess, but it still really affected me so if you're going to read this book I would be prepared for that. It's such a shame because I read another collection of short stories and absolutely loved it!

But this time around, I just couldn't get past Fleming as an author because I realised he and I would not have much to talk about, and I wouldn't like him as a person.

... other than all of that? The book had a solid plot, except for The World's Longest Game of Golf (TM), and some really nice quotations. I just didn't find it worth the effort. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
Growing up in the UK of the 1970s and 1980s I was much inspired by the movies of James Bond (on television every Bank Holiday) and would scour second-hand book tables at the local village fete every year looking for old Bond novels. I had heard lots of talk about how `Goldfinger' was the definitive James Bond movie - the blueprint for every feature film that followed in the hugely popular series. Yet it never seemed to appear on British television.
So, it was with much anticipation that I dived into a copy of the Ian Fleming novel of the same name. I was not disappointed.
Much maligned by Bond fans in general, I actually list `Goldfinger' as one of my favorite of all the Fleming James Bond books. It has all the elements I love - the trademark `Fleming sweep' keeps the novel moving at a fast pace, the villain is deliciously colorful and dastardly and the structure is impressive. Split into the three sections: Happenstance, Coincidence and Enemy Action (Goldfinger's theory on his three meetings with 007), the structure is more clearly evident and works well within the overall framework of the book.
The plot of the novel follows the same path as the movie, except in one crucial detail. In the 1964 movie, Goldfinger (in cahoots with the Chinese) plots the detonation of a nuclear device inside the gold depository at Ft. Knox. In the novel Fleming has the villain scheming to steal the gold - a highly impractical scheme but still an enjoyable caper.
I remember upon first reading the novel how impressed I was with the chapters revolving around the game of golf. I find the colorful description and the game of wits between Goldfinger and James Bond especially suspenseful. It's interesting to note that these scenes in the movie are also among my favorites in the series (and even inspired Sean Connery to take up the game of golf).
`Goldfinger' is well worth a read. It's fast moving, has some great characters and a well drawn plot structure. I am frankly surprised it has received such a drubbing on amazon and Bond sites. Pick it up! ( )
  DarrenHarrison | Jul 21, 2016 |
Goldfin­ger by Ian Flem­ing is the sev­enth novel fea­tur­ing James Bond, 007, agent of MI6, the British Secret Ser­vice. The book’s orig­i­nal title was The Rich­est Man in the World, it was writ­ten in 1958 and pub­lished in 1959.

Bond first meets Auric Goldfin­ger, a mil­lion­aire, after being asked by a rich friend to find out if Mr. Goldfin­ger cheats at Canasta. Coin­ci­den­tally, Bond’s boss asks him to dis­cover how Goldfin­ger man­ages to smug­gle gold out of the coun­try and also if he has any con­nec­tion to SMERSH, the Russ­ian anti-spy agency.

Bond dis­cov­ers Goldfinger’s deal­ings with smug­gled gold and, of course, other mis­deeds. He meets Odd­job, a hench­man for Goldfin­ger, and man­ages to entrench him­self in Goldfinger’s get rich quick scheme.

Goldfin­ger by Ian Flem­ing is another fun book in the series. The story is, of course, dated and some of it seem down­right laugh­able or cringe wor­thy if not keep­ing in mind the atti­tudes at the times towards women and minorities.

The book fea­tures two very mem­o­rable vil­lains, Goldfin­ger and Odd­job, which have become the clas­sic stereo­type of Cold War rogues like many of Fleming’s inven­tions. The char­ac­ter of Pussy Galore, is a strong, smart, inde­pen­dent woman but Flem­ing still man­ages a few sex­ist remarks regard­less and Fleming’s anti­quated views on the sub­ject of fem­i­nism. I just took his old time views with a chuckle, but it’s amus­ing to read about those and I don’t know if his views are rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the times or even of the major­ity of men in the era. For exam­ple, Flem­ing “blames” the suf­fragette move­ment and women vot­ing on… les­bians. Quite laugh­able these days, but a bit dis­turb­ing to think that those views actu­ally existed and maybe even still exist.

With the excep­tion of From Rus­sia with Love, I thought that the char­ac­ter of Bond grew in this book more than the pre­vi­ous ones. Bond is more human and devel­ops some form of a sense of humor, ver­bally jab­bing at Odd­job sim­ply for his own amusement.

Frankly, another fun and silly adven­ture which has to be read with a wink and a nod to another time. A page turner which, to today’s audi­ence, might seem funny at all the wrong places.

For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com ( )
  ZoharLaor | May 5, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian Flemingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schott, BenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Goldfinger said, 'Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."'
Dedication
To
my gentle Reader
William Plomer
First words
James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
Stiff lipped and Oddjob.
Goldfinger strikes at England.
James Bond faints away.
(SomeGuyInVirginia)
Double Oh Seven
Fights a man obsessed with gold
who has some big plans.
(yoyogod)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142002046, Paperback)

Auric Goldfinger, the most phenomenal criminal Bond has ever faced, is an evil genius who likes his cash in gold bars and his women dressed only in gold paint. After smuggling tons of gold out of Britain into secret vaults in Switzerland, this powerful villain is planning the biggest and most daring heist in history-robbing all the gold in Fort Knox. That is, unless Secret Agent 007 can foil his plan. In one of Ian Fleming's most popular adventures, James Bond tracks this most dangerous foe across two continents and takes on two of the most memorable villains ever created-a human weapon named Oddjob and a luscious female crime boss named Pussy Galore. REVIEW; A superlative thriller from our foremost literary magician. (The New York Herald Tribune)

Auric Goldfinger, the most phenomenal criminal Bond has ever faced, is an evil genius who likes his cash in gold bars and his women dressed only in gold paint. After smuggling tons of gold out of Britain into secret vaults in Switzerland, this powerful villain is planning the biggest and most daring heist in history-robbing all the gold in Fort Knox. That is, unless Secret Agent 007 can foil his plan. In one of Ian Fleming's most popular adventures, James Bond tracks this most dangerous foe across two continents and takes on two of the most memorable villains ever created-a human weapon named Oddjob and a luscious female crime boss named Pussy Galore. REVIEW; A superlative thriller from our foremost literary magician. (The New York Herald Tribune)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:02 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"Auric Goldfinger; cruel, frustratingly careful. A cheat at canasta and a crook on a massive scale. The sort of man James Bond hates." -- Back cover.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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