LATELY — 19 March 2004

Casino Royale

Re­cently took a bit of time out from Dos­toyevsky (I’m reading The Idiot) to whip through Casino Royale, the first Bond book. Rather fun, it was. And also instructive:

  1. In this book, James Bond does not attempt to save the world. As a brief ex­pla­na­tion of what he has to do, saving the world is not even close. His job is to bank­rupt a villain called Le Chiffre not by, say, killing him and taking his money, but by winning it from him, fair and square, in a game of Casino baccarat. And Le Chiffre, by the way, is bad because he’s the “Paymaster” (treasurer?) of a Communist-controlled trade union with 50,000 members in the “heavy and trans­port in­dus­tries of Alsace.” Of course, there is fight­ing and bombs and guns and so forth but Bond’s actual job is to bank­rupt a union. Woo fucking hoo.

  2. Ac­cord­ing to the book, a Double O number is not a “license to kill.” Instead, it seems to be a sort of honour given to those who have had to kill in the course of duty:

“Well, in the last few years I’ve killed two villains. The first was in New York–a Japan­ese cipher expert crack­ing our codes on the thirty-sixth floor of the RCA build­ing in the Rock­e­feller centre… The next time in Stock­holm wasn’t so pretty. I had to kill a Nor­we­gian who was dou­bling against us for the Germans. … For those two jobs I was awarded a Double O number in the Service. Felt pretty clever and got a rep­u­ta­tion for being good and tough. A Double O number in our Service means you’ve had to kill a chap in cold blood in the course of some job.”