[Reading] ➺ You Only Live Twice By Ian Fleming – Uroturk.info
Ian Fleming often teased readers in earlier James Bond novels by including scenes where James Bond fantasizes what his life would be like if he retired from the Secret Service Bond often discusses quitting with his friends in almost every book in the series, too The ending of You Only Live Twice , number twelve in the series, leaves readers wondering if Bond has really come to the end of his career The tone of this book is elegiac, and the story seems of a funeral plot pun intended for the series as well as for many of the characters.Bond is coming to work at his London desk late and leaving early He is drinking a great deal, including at lunch He is doing no paperwork, rarely responding to work related questions He totally screwed up his last two field assignments Bond wonders whether he should resign before he gets fired Finally, M summons him to his office Bond is certain he is finished.Instead, M promotes Bond to the Diplomatic Section, giving him a new higher salary and a number 7777 Is it the old scam of promoting a failing employee by bumping him up in title and salary Maybe M has been consulting the Service s psychiatrist, Sir James Molony, who has recommended an extended vacation at minimum in the past for Bond This time, though, Molony has recommended giving Bond a hopeless assignment without any dangers, something to ignite Bond s patriotism and ingenuity So, M tells Bond he is getting an undercover assignment without any gunplay M wants Bond to somehow encourage Japan s secret service department head, Tiger Tanaka, to give over its intelligence reports on the Soviets England no longer has levers of influence, or even offices, in Japan The CIA has taken over the region Bond s cover will be as the Australian s embassy number two under Richard Dikko Lovelace Henderson of Her Majesty s Australian Diplomatic Corps.Dikko introduces Bond to Tiger Tiger and Bond spend much time together, sizing each other up Bond learns a lot about Japanese customs, does a lot of traveling around Japan Finally, Tiger says he will give Bond important secrets the Japanese have gotten from spying on Soviet communications IF he does a favor for them It seems there is a rich European in Japan the Japanese authorities would like to killJapan is sometimes called The Land of the Rising Sun From Wikipedia The Japanese names for Japan are Nippon and Nihon.They are both written in Japanese using the kanji Both Nippon and Nihon literally mean the sun s origin , that is, where the sun originates, and are often translated as the Land of the Rising Sun This nomenclature comes from Imperial correspondence with the Chinese Sui Dynasty and refers to Japan s eastern position relative to China However, after World War II, many Japanese were not feeling it A book, The Setting Sun , was written from Wikipedia The symbolism of the book The Setting Sun refers to how Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun was in a period of decline after World War II In her last letter to Mr Uehara, Kazuko says that Japan is struggling against the old morality, like the sun Fleming died shortly after You Only Live Twice was published The book takes several feints towards the death of Bond, or of his career, and especially at Bond s purpose in life, highlighting Bond s death wish The setting in another country destroyed by World War II, with a plot about an insane Edenic garden of deadly plants for Japanese people intending suicide, created by Bond s old foe Blofeld, a Polish German madman, adds up to a literary scream of despair I believe Fleming set the final book about Bond in Japan the novel is a travelogue about Japan for 2 3rds of the book because Japan was another country which was seemingly in its sunset years of influence, power and wealth in the world.I think Ian Fleming was emotionally done in for real when he wrote You Only Live Twice The novel has many references to the diminution of England financially, and in its political influence on the World There is a thread of sadness and a sense of loss over the overall decline of manners and customs and class throughout the story Although two James Bond books by Fleming were published after his death from draft manuscripts and notes, I think if it wasn t for the Hollywood deals, Fleming was ready to stop writing about James Bond Fleming seems awfully embittered angry in the books through the cartoon character he made to represent England s tired masculinity a spy suffering from a lot of PTSD Hollywood turned Bond into a wise cracking psychopath I believe Fleming was truly soul sick I do not have the sympathy for him that maybe some do, since I think his despair was mostly from the blurring and degrading of male class structures and s after WWII He equated nobility and patriotism as weft and warp of upper class values, so the ongoing growing disrespect of the upper classes around the world meant the concurrent degradation of country and social life to him, I think, thus his resulting angst and depression As an underclass woman who grew up a little later in the twentieth century, my sympathy for the death of toxic masculinity, whether upper class or no, must remain rather with the hopeful blooms in a feminist poison garden. You only live twice Once when you are born,And once when you look death in the face.This is the haiku James Bond composes in this book, but in reality it is by Bassho, a Japanese poet.This is a very weird book Actually, it s my personal opinion that view spoiler the death of Gwen Stacy Tracy Bond hide spoiler The Tragic End To James Bond S Last Mission Courtesy Of Ernst Stavro Blofeld Has Left A Broken Man And Of Little Use To The British Secret Service At His Wit S End, M Decides That The Only Way To Snap His Best Agent Out Of His Torpor Is To Send Him On An Impossible Diplomatic Mission To Japan Bond S Contact There Is The Formidable Japanese Spymaster Tiger Tanaka, Who Agrees To Do Business With The West If Bond Will Assassinate One Of His Enemies A Mysterious Swiss Botanist Named Dr Guntram ShatterhandShatterhand Is Not Who He Seems, However, And His Impregnable Fortress Known To The Locals As The Castle Of Death Is A Gauntlet Of Traps No Gaijin Has Ever Penetrated But Through Rigorous Ninja Training, And With Some Help From The Beautiful And Able Kissy Suzuki, Bond Manages To Gain Access To Shatterhand S Lair Inside Lurks Certain Doom At The Hands Of S Bitterest Foe Or A Final Chance To Exact Ultimate Vengeance You only live twice Once when you are bornAnd once when you look death in the face Ian Fleming s 12th Bond book is set in Japan and concludes his brilliant Blofeld trilogy.While the films use Blofeld and Spectre to a greater degree, Fleming s Blofeld shows up in three books Thunderball, On Her Majesty s Secret Service and here First published in 1964, we see Fleming at the height of his considerable narrative powers, but tragically he only had a few months to live.Months after Blofeld killed Bond s wife Tracy, Bond is a mess and M sends him East on an impossible mission But this is after all James Bond and our hero crashes headlong into trouble than anyone expected When Bond discovers that the Japanese nemesis is in fact Blofeld, the action turns personal, as ugly as a Sicilian vendetta and Fleming s tight prose makes the most of the scenario.One of the better Bond stories, there were passages of this that made me think that this was some of Fleming s best writing. 2.5The Superintendent went to the bottom of his file and extracted what looked like a blown up copy of Doctor Guntram Shatterhand s passport photograph and handed it over Bond took it nonchalantly Then his whole body stiffened He said to himself, God Almighty God Almighty Yes There was no doubt, no doubt at all You Only Live Twice or, as I really want to call it, On Her Majesty s Secret Service Part Deux, because I can t help seeing parallels to the second Hot Shots movie, deals with a James Bond that has been broken after the events of On Her Majesty s Secret Service.Bond has lost his interest in his job, is depressed, puts missions and lives at risk, chases pleasures aimlessly, and is on the verge of being fired The only reason he is not is that M is persuaded to set Bond an improbable task that has no other aim than to make Bond realise that he needs to step up his game.What M does not know, is that the investigation into the strange goings on on a Japanese island will play right into Bond s troublesBond held the pictures, not looking at them, thinking Ernst Stavro Blofeld Irma Bunt So this was where they had come to hide You would think that this set up of Bond being sent to investigate something far away from his usual life would provide some opportunity for Bond to reflect or try to deal with his own losses, you know, to make Bond grow as a character But no Instead, Fleming decided to use this book as an opportunity to showcase his own interest in all things Japanese and use Bond as a tool for comparing Fleming s understanding of British and Japanese cultures.This part of the book is fun It might, with good reason, make you doubt Fleming s research There are at least two eye roll inducing assertions in Fleming s portrayal of Japan and one of which, about sumo wrestlers, seems to have become a myth that has transcended the Bond franchise.Never mind, eh As this Bond buddy read comes to a close only 2 books left, one of which is a re read of a short story collection , I have come to really ask myself why I stuck with the series and had not abandoned Bond s exploits after From Russia With Love, which was one of the very worst books I have ever read Ever.Well, I have to admit that Fleming s attempts at dazzling his readers with bullshit are one of the reasons this series has been fun I don t mean Fleming s xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, snobbishness, I really mean the times when Fleming tries to persuade the reader of facts that are wrong The series is riddled with mistakes about biology, history, physics, chemistry anything that can be researched Yet, Fleming talks about this stuff with so much conviction that reading a Fleming novel inevitably makes you question your own knowledge It is fun to discover the errors or to learn something you didn t know by looking at topics that Fleming discusses with enthusiasm which just don t sound true Even so if you have a patient reading buddy who doesn t mind sounding out some of the ideas with you On the flip side, what I haven t enjoyed so much are the plots of the Bond novels There are exceptions of course Casino Royale, or Dr No come to mind here, but overall the plots reading in today, that is were quite simplistic and often boring.In You Only Live Twice, I would even go as far as to say that there is no real plot Or at least, there is nothing that makes the plot interesting There is not even an evil master plan to overthrow We meet Blofeld and Bunt again, but they are mere mad shadows of their characters from On Her Majesty s Secret Service Where is the fun in this So, overall, this is an interesting novel for getting to know a little bit about Fleming and his estimation for Japan, but it is an utterly boring Bond adventure, that ends with a weird variation on Madama Butterfly.Such an odd novel. Rating 3.5 of five1967 s film version of the book apparently kept nothing to speak of from the book s plot, little enough of the characters, and broke new ground in space science, if only physics would agree to operate by Bondiverse rules So that raises the question What the actual fuck Undetectable space launches from a densely packed island nation famous then as now for being xenophobic Volcanos hollowed out and repurposed because they re extinct and then KERPOW they blow up on cue The sorriest ninjas on record being trained in what appears to be a suburban garden Yeesh No wonder Sean Connery was ready to leave the role after this turkey.You might have noticed that Connery is, by Western standards, a large man Tall Muscular Imposing And he s now going to pretend to be Japanese Forty five years ago, there were very few Japanese men over 6ft tall To the best of my knowledge, there are to this good moment a vanishingly small number of Japanese men with Scottish accents and furry chests So when Bond is presented as a native husband for a local girl WITH HER OWN HOME AND BOAT, I rolled my eyes so hard I m pretty sure I saw my brain Like every damn single man on that island wouldn t be all up in Bond s business from second one, seeing as how he nabbed the most eligible woman in Japan So it sounds like 3.5 stars is ridiculously generous, doesn t it There are reasons 1 Bond s death scene at the beginning of the movie So cool I get frostbite from watching it 2 Blofeld s big blond henchrat Scenic 3 The Toyota 2000GT that Bond s first gal pal drives ber cool car And, trivia for the five of you still reading this, Toyota delivered the car to the filmmakers a couple weeks before shooting Connery did not fit in the vehicle At all Toyota s staff said, oh no, so sorry, we ll fix it and they DID I am constantly amazed that this level of customer service ever existed on the surface of the earth.The house I live in presently was built in 1938 It s got golden oak floors, painted baseboards, dentilated crown moldingsvery NOT 1960s decor The films have reminded me of the ocean of blond wood, teak, copper, and faux stone that permeated the built environment of the day Glass tables, horrible things they were too An amazing number of ceramic lamps with cylindrical paper shades As familiar to me as my beard, but not today s design vernacular by any stretch I wonder, is it off putting or old fashioned looking to kids of the 1980s Kids HA most of y all got kids of your own now So at least one star added for taking me right back into a world I liked a lot, because it was the first one I ever knew It had its charms I prefer today, but that doesn t lessen the draw of a familiar past That s a big part of the fun I get from rewatching these films.ETA The song I forgot to mention Nancy Sinatra s rendition of You Only Live Twice , a syrupy ballad with a screechy violin hook that embeds itself in the brain extremely deeply The hook is played over a lot of lovely scenery shots, so repetition does its ugly work Still, it s nowhere near as horrible as the Tom Jones rendition of Thunderball That is just heinous. Britain has not only lost a great Empire, you have seemed almost anxious to throw it away with both hands You apparently sought to arrest this slide into impotence at Suez, but succeeded only in stage managing one of the most pitiful bungles in the history of the world, if not the worst Further, your governments have shown themselves successively incapable of ruling and have handed over effective control of the country to the trade unions, who appear to be dedicated to the principle of doing less and less work for money This feather bedding, this shirking of an honest day s work, is sapping at ever increasing speed the moral fibre of the British The reason that international terrorist organisation SPECTRE replaced Russian Spy body SMERSH as James Bond s main villain was, that as the Fifties progressed, it became increasingly ludicrous to suggest that Britain was at the forefront of the anti Soviet fight Philby and his cohorts who are referred to obliquely in this volume had proved that British agents were likely to be hand in hand with the Russians In addition, the fact that Britain had lost the Empire and the whole country seemed tired and grey not to mention still bombed out meant that Britain s prestige had greatly faded This then is James Bond, super agent of a failed cause, a man still fighting the fight but unsure any what he s fighting for.To be fair, the piece of dialogue quoted above is dismissed by Bond when said to him, and yet the sentiment of it echoes throughout You Only Live Twice There are numerous references to how Britain needs to buck up her ideas because fings ain t what they used to be Newly widowed, Bond is jaded and tired, which undoubtedly suits the downbeat and failing country he represents And yet, this novel wasn t published in the Fifties, but in 1964, just when Britain was starting to swing again Okay, the book was no doubt written the year before, but even then there should have been a sense that all was changing and Britain wasn t as threadbare as previously supposed And yet, in the reactionary and conservative world of James Bond and Ian Fleming, in the year of his death , Britain was definitely past its prime and destined to be a miserable black and white failure for even Side note the Bond film in 1964 was Goldfinger Isn t it a jarring moment when Connery suggests that the best way to listen to The Beatles is while wearing earmuffs That s one Swinging Sixties icon taking a swing at another, but it does sound like the 1950 s Bond of the book He d have thought the moptops were nothing but tuneless scruffs Divorced from its historical context, this is a fairly dull and uneventful book Bond goes to Japan on a nebulous mission, then hangs around for a bit waiting for a plot to develop In the main this is a travelogue, Ian Fleming s What I Did On My Summer Holiday essay It takes a long while for the action to get going, and even then it s fairly anticlimactic To be fair the ending is refreshingly atypical, although the suggestion that all these books are real and written by one of Bond s friends, feels clumsy and self reverential In short this is a novel in which Bond is a lot like the country he represents or Fleming s perception of it anyway He was once virile and powerful, but those days have passed. I ve found that one must try and teach people that there s no top limit to disaster that, so long as breath remains in your body, you ve got to accept the miseries of life They will often seem infinite, insupportable They are part of the human conditionIan Fleming, You Only Live TwiceIan Fleming took James Bond off the interstate of his traditional espionage novels with the last couple books You Only Live Twice is Fleming putting James back into the game The settting for most of this novel is Japan Bond is hunting for the Japanese Dr Guntram Shatterhand, who turns out to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE It is interesting enough, but seems a bit dated with the NINJA scenes and Yellow Face. I am one of the first to admit that I would rather be reading than watching most television, movies, and other media other than a few of my favorite franchise series One of those series is James Bond, and I have seen most films at least once I have a favorite Bond actor and a favorite film for each Bond, which I am partial to and end up repeating so than the other flicks When classic bingo called for an action or adventure square, I used it as an excuse to read another of Ian Fleming s original Bond books You Only Live Twice, which also checks off the Y for my A to Z book title challenge, was the last book that Fleming wrote in his lifetime, hence passing the franchise on to other less devoted writers While not my favorite Bond by far, it still presented me a chance to spend time with 007 on an otherwise gloomy winter day.James Bond is reeling, off of his game so to speak It is the 1950s, the height of the cold war, and he has been a 00 agent since the end of World War II He has botched his last two assignments as he is still grieving from the death of his wife Tracey at the hands of the sinister Ernst Stavo Blofield and his equally vile wife Irma Bent Bond believes that he should tender his resignation, yet M, the head of British Secret Service MI,6 can not afford to lose his most capable spy At a time when the threat of nuclear warfare has the entire world on edge, M entrusts Bond with top assignments than ever Yet, Bond would be happy to retire to Jamaica and live out his days in the sun and surf of the island After buttering up and prodding by M, Bond agrees to a promotion to the foreign service and heads to Japan on a classified diplomatic mission.The one caveat of this assignment is that there are no guns or any other secret gadgets available to Bond from MI6 While in a Japan still in the American sphere of influence, Bond must learn to behave like a true member of Japanese society Entrusted in the hands of top Japanese agent Tiger Tanaka, Bond spends the majority of the book immersed in Japanese culture Although he pines for English gin, cigarettes, food, and women, Bond plays the game and becomes passable for one of the taller Japanese miners Versed enough to write a rudimentary haiku and to laugh at the right places, Tanaka believes that Bond is ready for his assignment to infiltrate the Garden of Death located on the remote island of Kyushu off of the Asian Sea While there, he will be under the care of Bond girl Kissy Suzuki, a pearl diver from the nearby island of Kuro who believes 007 to be Taro, a Japanese miner.Behind the garden of death are none other than Blofield and Bent themselves Creating this garden of deadly plants, fish, and volcanic geysers, the couple encourages Japanese suicide seekers to meet their death at their paradise The couple appears just as sinister and vile in this book, as they do in current Bond films, most notably Spectre Yet, Blofield is the only thing similar to the movies from this books Rather than disabling a nuclear weapon that is a threat to western civilization leaving viewers on edge, here Bond desires revenge on Blofield and Bent and is forced to fight them without the aid of a gun This scene makes for a true fight of strength and man power, and was actually enjoyable to me than some of the sequences where Bond has multiple killing agents at his disposable And, of course, because Blofield grows evil by the page, I was silently cheering as 007 dueled his rival in true Japanese ninja style.You Only Live Twice is one of the few instances where I may have enjoyed the movie version slightly than the book While I enjoyed seeing Bond in a different role as a foreign service officer and learning about a culture different than his own, I pined for the action of the big screen I have previously read From Russia With Love and Casino Royale, and both books contained action than this one Perhaps Fleming suspected that his involvement with Bond was coming to a close, although he left numerous journals that would form the basis of his other stories You Only Live Twice is not my top Bond story, but it was fun and even witty at parts Besides, as longtime Bond viewers know from the screen, James Bond will be back, and hopefully my next Bond read will be better.3.5 stars I WAS reading a lot of espionage and western novels in the early 70s In fact, I had started reading espionage in 1969 with The Man from U.N.C.L.E novels and Ian Fleming s Goldfinger which was followed by Thunderball and finally You Only Live Twice , both of which I read in 1970.Ian Lancaster Fleming writing his novels in the bedroom of his house in Jamaica.Of the three James Bond novels, I think I had liked You Only Live Twice the best Maybe because the location was Japan and I was totally bewitched by the rich Japanese culture I had already known several Japanese words like kimono, origami, geisha, sayonara and kamikaze through reading books and watching films while I picked up some like sumo, harakiri and sake a Japanese rice wine from Mr Fleming s tome.The cover of the novel I read as a schoolboy in Calcutta The novel started off with sumo wrestlers wrestling in an arena Just imagine giant babies in pampers butting their heads to start the match I am sure a 148kg sumo would be easily able to lift me up with his little finger, then roll me like a dice in his palm and throw me at the jubilant front seaters However, I wouldn t mind landing on the lap of a beautiful buxom Japanese woman or even a white Spanish senorita Oh Please excuse me for being carried away.Sumo wrestlers lunge towards each other on a clay dohyo an elevated ring.Getting back to the novel I think Ian Fleming also mentioned Bond playing Stone, Paper, Scissors while on his spying business in Japan Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong Then there was this part about how some Japanese shrinked their testes through sheer practise and brain power so as not to get hurt if faced by some crazy rival I was truly enthralled reading all this I kept wondering as to how they did that.Bond was skilled in judo and karate, so, naturally, the location being Japan, the novel had its fair share of that too What would a bond novel be without fast and furious action Sean Connery poses for a publicity still.A haiku from the novel became extremely popular when the book was first published and then again when the film was released in 1967 Nobody needs to be reminded that suave and sexy Sean Connery was its hero Bond, James Bond You only live twice Once when you are bornAnd once when you look death in the face Bond composes the haiku in the novel, but it is actually by Basho, a Japanese poet.I thorougly enjoyed the book and found it to be the best of the three Bond novels I had read so far.Playboy magazine featured excerpts from Ian Fleming s You Only Live Twice in its May and June 1964 editions, having artwork by Daniel Schwartz.Towards the fag end of 1969, the film was released at a cinema hall in Calcutta My elder brother took me along with two cousins to watch the night show I loved the opening titles with the silhouettes of girls dancing in the nude, the sumo wrestlers ramming their heads with all their might and the volcano set which is in reality Blofeld s secret hideout That is nearly about all that I liked about the film It was no patch on the book Besides, I did not find the Japanese heroine, Mie Hama, to be attractive or sexy at all, especially after having watched beautiful Bond heroines like Ursula Andress Dr No , Daniela Bianchi From Russia With Love , Claudine Auger Thunderball and Honor Blackman who starred in Goldfinger and remains my favourite to this day.