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Knight Meets Dragon in the James Bond Saga: Realism and Reality-Models

Meir Sternberg
Style
Vol. 17, No. 2, Narratology (Spring 1983), pp. 142-180
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42945465
Page Count: 39
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Knight Meets Dragon in the James Bond Saga: Realism and Reality-Models
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Abstract

Comparison of the James Bond novels to canonical realistic literature and earlier spy fiction (particularly the Ashenden Tales by Somerset Maugham), reveals how Ian Fleming in his oeuvre manipulates the reader into accepting the Marvellous as real and also the real as Marvellous. For the first effect he persuades the reader that the Marvellous is simply an extension of the real, that superhuman character traits are nevertheless limited, and that the Marvellous does exist after all, despite the initial skepticism of reader and characters. To convince the reader that everyday reality accommodates the Marvellous, Fleming will set an exotic tale in an everyday or even topical frame, will specify details extensively and evenly throughout the novel, and will refer to them by glamorous or authoritative designations. Moreover, Fleming wishes to convince his reader that there is no way to separate the realistic from the Marvellous. A sophisticated play of reality-models creates the impression that they both belong to the same frame of reference. Thus there is a continual flow between the real and the Marvellous, which come to interpenetrate one another; and the best examples of this strategy are Fleming's use of children's games, the portraying of humans as animals, and especially the projection of modern events in terms of fairy tale and heroic legend.

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