Ian Fleming – Goldfinger

With Goldfinger (1959), the seventh installment of the James Bond series by Ian Fleming, I have come halfway. As usual I assume everyone knows about how it works with the plot and the typical Bond-characteristics so that I mainly focus on what is different from the movie adaptation (without spoiling anything) and commenting on good or bad points.

Goldfinger was a strange reading experience for me. In the beginning the story seemed to unfold more slowly than the movie and at a certain point I had the idea it was going to drift into a different direction considering the ending, but Fleming still had some twists up his sleeve that made it all worthwhile. All things considered it is hard to say if the movie or the novel is better. Their different approach and development of the story are such that they balance out against each other. What seemed weak in the movie is stronger in the novel and the other way around. In the end both are very satisfactory, making Goldfinger certainly one of the better novels, similarly as it is considered one of the best movies.

More than ever James Bond is like we know him from the movies, more reckless, determined and a woman’s man than the earlier novels. As the novels follow a chronological order it can be seen as a natural development as Bond has gotten more experienced and has been through more hardships so that he feels a greater urge to live life to the fullest.

There is one other thing I want to mention. The James Bond novels were written in the fifties and early sixties. Although they represent the lifestyle and society of those times Fleming adds unusual progressive elements in the novels and provides commentaries on some of the societies that Bond visits. One example is homosexuality. He presents it in a neutral way and although he makes certain comments one cannot discern them as negative as the addition of this element to the story is not made for that reason. In that case he would have presented them in a different way than as a colorful addition to society.

There are more small things like these that enrich these seemingly adventurous and short thrillers. There is more to find and when one recognizes that one will understand why the novels got critical acclaim in those times besides being fantastic thrillers. Even today, when some elements might seem outdated, they are a great read.

One Response to “Ian Fleming – Goldfinger”

  1. DRush76 says:

    I was not impressed with this novel when I read it. The movie is slightly better . . . but not much.

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