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Issue 11 – Trinity 2022


The Man With the Golden Gun

On James Bond.


On a movie website there’s an institution called “The Black Sheep.” Here aficionados can defend a movie generally held in poor esteem that they think is unfairly maligned—or simply enjoy. If there were a novelistic equivalent, my Black Sheep would be The Man With The Golden Gun, the last James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming. It is universally considered a minor work, especially given its appearance after the so called “Blofeld trilogy” of Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice; with the last two, Fleming elevated humble spy stories to a quasi-literary level. Compared with these genre giants, Golden Gun, published in 1965 eight months after the author’s death, is a slim, straightforward gangster story without the lavish details that make Fleming’s best work so appealing. It is therefore panned, for style, content, and lack of imagination (some plot elements are rehashed from Fleming’s previous writings). The reason usually given to explain this “lack of quality” is that the book as we have it now is simply a first draft, banged out quickly by Fleming before his heart attack in August 1964. Had he lived to complete it, he would have taken this draft and lavishly enriched it with the famous Fleming touch.

Well, you can guess that I come to praise Golden Gun and not to bury it. But first, some background on my relationship with James Bond and the Fleming books. 

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About the author

Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen

Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen is ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta.

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