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Topic: Ian Fleming as Major Dexter Smythe in 'Octopussy'?

I know well that many of you here will know of the thesis put forward by some writers that 'Octopussy' is considered in some ways a suicide note from Ian Fleming. It is very self-referential and as part of my blog writing, I intend to write a substantial piece on this overlooked area of Bondology. In many ways 'Octopussy' is a sort of later 'Quatum of Solace' or 'The Hildebrand Rarity' from For Your Eyes Only (1960). Smythe and Fleming are the same age  at the time of writing (1962) - it is a story of betrayal, deceit, murder, illicit gold dealings and tropical sea life like scorpion fishes and octopuses. It combines WWII memories for Fleming - his 30 AU 'Red Indians' especially - about which a new book appeared last year - Rankin's Ian Fleming's Commandos - he also has an interesting view on 'Octopussy' and its basic meaning. It is a story laden with sub-textual meaning and I think it's high time these hidden qualities of this late gem from the pen of Fleming was reappraised.

I'd love to hear your views on this short story where again (after QoS), Bond has such a very minor role.

Last edited by Silhouette Man (30th Jul 2019 17:00)

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"The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).

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Re: Ian Fleming as Major Dexter Smythe in 'Octopussy'?

This seems the best thread to post this in.  ***SPOILERS BELOW***

It's well-known that Fleming was friendly with Raymond Chandler and each read the other's works. It's my contention that a work of Chandler's directly influenced a work of Fleming's:

In Chandler's 1953 novel The Long Goodbye his established series character Philip Marlowe spends time with an alcoholic writer called Roger Wade. Wade is basically a gloomy portrait of Chandler himself, aging and very pessimistically looking towards an unpromising future. Marlowe, it could easily be argued, is a glamourised portrait of other aspects of Chandler himself- eternally in his prime, attractive to the ladies, etc.

Spoiler Wade commits suicide

In Fleming's Octopussy exactly the same could be said of Fleming, Major Dexter Smythe and James Bond (except that Smythe wasn't a writer)- just change the names.

I'm not the first to suggest autobiographical elements in OP- see Revelator's excellent article here https://literary007.com/2014/02/24/was- … graphical/ - but I don't think anyone has drawn a connection between Chandler/Wade/Marlowe and Fleming/Smythe/Bond before. If so, please tell me and I'll be happy to be corrected. I've touched on this subject before, but not in the context of Major Smythe and OP.

So, in each work the writer creates two different versions of his own personality and puts them together on paper to draw contrasts and converse with each other. Chandler's book is far, far longer than Fleming's short story so has more time to expand on the possibilities.